I grew up in Peoria, Illinois back in the days when you could get in the car and, in about five minutes, be in the middle of a corn field.
There were four radio stations. In the mornings and at noon, the programming on all of them was that day’s price of corn, beans, grain, pork, and beef.
I knew what a calf would bring at a very early age, as well as what a bushel of corn was worth.
Because our parents (instead of the unions) controlled the public school system, we learned at a very early age that food most assuredly did NOT come from the A&P, the National, or the Kroger store.
And even though we mostly grew up in the city, we grew up with a very healthy respect for the business and the lifestyle of agriculture.
We took seriously the fact that Chicago was the “hog butcher to the world,” and that corn was as important to Illinois as was Caterpillar Tractor. When we talked about the “breadbasket of the world” in school, we fully understood that we were talking about the region in which we lived.
Nobody where I grew up looked down on or made fun of farmers and ranchers because we all liked to eat, and we all knew where the food we ate came from.
Today, in Nevada, there is a different attitude; and that attitude comes largely from the most inbred parts of the Federal bureaucracy.
In fact, the official policy of the Bureau of Land Management’s Battle Mountain director, Doug Furtado, seems to be that we can all starve to death because of the “environment” (a variable term for whatever the crazy people who control 90 percent of the land mass in Nevada want to do at any given time).
The Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, through their agencies–the BLM and the US Forest Service–have spent at least the last 20 years waging war on agricultural activity in Nevada. They have cut grazing allotments, they have ordered ranchers off “their land,” and they have (through their actions if not their words) suggested that man should simply leave the state.
The latest outrage came as Furtado ordered a Battle Mountain rancher to remove his cattle from Riparian lands (near streams or rivers) by June 30th, regardless of the fact that the rancher in question owns all of the water rights to those lands.
In the words of Elko County Commissioner Grant Gerber, “we’re not going to win this in court. Not in the short term.”
There have been some victories in court, but the BLM has an unlimited budget and the benign neglect of both political parties. They have survived a Nevada Federal Judge referring one of their managers for prosecution and simply ignored that Judge’s orders.
Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy won a huge victory in the court of public opinion, and the first thing the intelligentsia running the Federal bureaucracy is doing to him and his friends is to have the FBI investigate those who came to Bunkerville to defend Bundy–and who may have pointed a gun at a BLM mercenary who might have pointed a gun at them.
Western land policy isn’t an issue that is sexy enough to get any attention among Presidents and Presidential candidates of either party–unless the party faithful in these swing states make it very clear that the votes will swing the opposite way absent a clear policy prior to a voting commitment.
Or, put another way, if a Presidential candidate knows that there is no chance Nevada will vote for him or her at a caucus, and that there is no way the state will break for him or her in a tight general election, then a potential Secretary of the Interior or Agriculture becomes a real issue.
Absent that, those two positions are afterthoughts; and that is why the BLM and the Forest Service have become so inbred with granola munching food haters.
Think I’m kidding?
Check out the prices of basic foods like beef and milk at your local grocery store and the production levels in the West as opposed to what they could be, remembering that the bigger the supply, the lower the cost. Nevada’s inventory of cattle and calves is about 455,000 head, according to the Nevada Department of Agriculture. That’s down from a historical high of 700,000 in 1982. That’s about 35% less beef being produced.
And one more thing.
If there is no clear Presidential policy saying that agriculture beats, say, nothing as a land use, then morons like Harry Reid—who gets his food from either the Senate Dining Room or the restaurants in the Ritz-Carlton in Washington DC where he lives in a million dollar condo—get to make policy. And Harry favors the protection of the desert tortoise, as opposed to the protection of our food supply.
It’s really very simple.
Do you want faceless Federal bureaucrats to be able to shut off your food supply? Do you understand that your food does not come from 7-11 or WalMart?
If you don’t want your food supply to be at the mercy of the Federal Government, then policies of the Federal Government need to be changed.
You start that by telling the state legislature that you want the Federal Government control over the land of Nevada ended. Or we can find a new state legislature. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue in Nevada. They all like to eat, regardless of party affiliation.
You then make it clear to your congressional representatives that their further representation of us depends on their getting something done. Even Dina Titus and Steven Horseford. Last time I checked, both of them like to eat.
And then, you make it clear to any Presidential candidate of either party that ending BLM and Forest Service hegemony over Nevada is a condition of getting our votes.
Or you could let Cliven Bundy do all the work.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.