Bitter winter has impact on gypsy moth in Minnesota

Minnesota Department of Ag Logo Last winter’s harsh temperatures have resulted in some positive benefits – a decline in the state’s gypsy moth population. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) captured approximately 500 moths this year in traps around the state. That’s a major shift from last year’s count of over 71,000 moths.

“We knew going into this survey season that our numbers would be down,” said Kimberly Thielen Cremers, MDA’s Gypsy Moth Program Supervisor. “Studies have shown extended stretches of extreme cold have an impact on gypsy moth eggs as they overwinter. However, we cannot let our guard down over this invasive insect.”

In fact, University of Minnesota research has shown gypsy moth egg masses can survive a harsh winter if located below the snowline.

“While the decrease in moths is good news, we know they will bounce back quickly.” said Dr. Brian Aukema of the forest insect laboratory at the University of Minnesota. “A single surviving egg mass will produce more than 500 hungry caterpillars.”

The placement of survey traps throughout the state also affected 2014 trapping numbers.

“We placed 60 percent fewer traps in the quarantined counties of Lake and Cook this year,” said Thielen Cremers. “We know a reproducing population is established there; 90 percent of the moths caught in the state in 2013 were in those two counties, so this year we placed more traps ahead of that established population to keep on top of the spreading gypsy moth infestation.”

Gypsy moth caterpillars, which are not native to North America, eat the leaves of many trees and shrubs. Severe, repeated infestations can kill trees, especially when the trees are already stressed by drought or other factors.

A male, gypsy moth caterpillar (photo from www.constructionandtreeservices.com)

A male, gypsy moth caterpillar (photo from www.constructionandtreeservices.com)

Last winter’s harsh temperatures have resulted in some positive benefits – a decline in the state’s gypsy moth population. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) captured approximately 500 moths this year in traps around the state. That’s a major shift from last year’s count of over 71,000 moths.

“We knew going into this survey season that our numbers would be down,” said Kimberly Thielen Cremers, MDA’s Gypsy Moth Program Supervisor. “Studies have shown extended stretches of extreme cold have an impact on gypsy moth eggs as they overwinter. However, we cannot let our guard down over this invasive insect.”

In fact, University of Minnesota research has shown gypsy moth egg masses can survive a harsh winter if located below the snowline.

“While the decrease in moths is good news, we know they will bounce back quickly.” said Dr. Brian Aukema of the forest insect laboratory at the University of Minnesota. “A single surviving egg mass will produce more than 500 hungry caterpillars.”

The placement of survey traps throughout the state also affected 2014 trapping numbers.

“We placed 60 percent fewer traps in the quarantined counties of Lake and Cook this year,” said Thielen Cremers. “We know a reproducing population is established there; 90 percent of the moths caught in the state in 2013 were in those two counties, so this year we placed more traps ahead of that established population to keep on top of the spreading gypsy moth infestation.”

An example of tree damage from gypsy moth infestations (photo from gypsymothalert.com)

An example of tree damage from gypsy moth infestations (photo from gypsymothalert.com)

Gypsy moth caterpillars, which are not native to North America, eat the leaves of many trees and shrubs. Severe, repeated infestations can kill trees, especially when the trees are already stressed by drought or other factors.

For more information on gypsy moth, go to www.mda.state.us/gypsymoth.

 

RCTC program closures generate controversy

Earlier this year, Rochester Community and Technical College’s new President, Leslie McClellon, announced that two of the schools academic programs would be closing. The programs are equine science and occupational skills, with both scheduled to end by May 2016.

RCTC President Leslie McClellon (Photo from the RCTC Pinterest page at http://www.pinterest.com/myrctc/inside-rctc/

RCTC President Leslie McClellon (Photo from the RCTC Pinterest page at http://www.pinterest.com/myrctc/inside-rctc/)

The October decision to close the programs has generated some controversy on campus and in the Rochester community. The furor doesn’t just surround the programs themselves, but also the manner in which the decision was made. The decision came without warning, with little give and take between the administration and the people most affected by the decision.

One of the people most affected by the decision is Jonathon Holland, an Equine Science instructor. He said there was no warning when he was told the program would shut down and he wouldn’t have a job at the end of the year.

“I got a call on a Friday afternoon in October, and was asked to come to a meeting the following Monday with Michelle Pyfferon, Dean of Academic Affairs,” said Holland. “Then, on Monday morning, Pyfferoen called an hour before the meeting and said I should probably have union representation. I laughed at that, and said ‘first of all, I find it hard to believe you didn’t know I’d need representation on Friday when you called. An hour before the meeting, and there’s no chance I’m getting anyone to come that quickly.’”

“I told her ‘if I can’t have union representation there with me, maybe I shouldn’t come to the meeting,’” said Holland. “She said ‘well, it has nothing to do with you.’ If I needed representation, why wouldn’t it have anything to do with me?”

After finding out the meeting had nothing to do with his teaching or any of the students, he decided to attend. “As soon as I walked in, I was handed a set of papers, and told that as of May, I would be done teaching at the school, and the program would be closing.”

“There wasn’t much in the way of discussion. It was simply handed to me as a decision that was already made,” said Jonathon.

“I then learned that the President would be having a question-and-answer session with interested parties the following Monday,” he said. Over 150 people came to the October 27 meeting. Faculty, staff, current students, alumni of the program, even community members all showed up.

“Most of our advisory board was at the meeting,” said Holland. “As a background, all technical programs on campus must have an advisory board. They are not paid. It’s a volunteer position.” He said, “We ask community experts to sit on the advisory board and keep the program up to date with current trends, and as effective as possible for students.”

“Our advisory committee was shocked and dismayed,” said Jonathon. “The hostility with which they were treated, simply because they wanted their questions answered, was so disrespectful for these community members who give their time and effort to help this college.”

He said, “They were treated horribly. She (President McClellon) was very aggressive towards them. It’s almost as if she believed they didn’t have the right to question her,” said Holland.

Lita Hottel

Lita Hottel of Rochester is an internationally known horse judge, and a member of the Equine Science Advisory Board (photo from http://www.ranchhastar.se/september10.htm)

Lita Hottel of Rochester is a member of the advisory board, and an internationally known horse judge. She was shocked at the way she was treated simply by asking questions. Hottel started her part of the discussion by reading a statement from President McClellon in the schools newsletter. The statement said:

“I want to thank everyone, especially the faculty, who have taken significant steps over the past few years to do everything possible to avoid these program closures. I also want to thank Vice President Jim Gross and the academic deans for all of their time and commitment to carefully consider all aspects before coming to this decision.”
~Leslie R. McClellon, President

“I asked President McClellon to explain what ‘doing everything possible over the last few years’ looked like,” said Hottel. “The reason I’m asking is her very qualified staff didn’t seem to know about the possibility of the program closing until the day before it closed.” She added, “I am on the advisory board, and I would have loved to help find a solution, but I’m not really sure what the problem was.”

McClellon then passed off the question to Michelle Pyfferoen, Dean of Technical Programs. However, Hottel was not satisfied with what she heard.

“I said, ‘She didn’t answer the question,’” said Lita. “President McClellon just repeated something she had said before about state guidelines. It appeared she just didn’t want to answer the questions.”

“President McClellon then asked me for a solution to the problem on the spot, which was obviously after the fact,” said Hottel. I said, ‘If you want a solution, I would be happy to bring you one.’ She then became verbally aggressive and demanded a solution right then. I would have loved to bring RCTC’s program a solution, and told her so.” Lita said, “It was very demeaning to be put on the spot for a solution to a problem I was just learning about.”

Julie Christie is the program leader for Equine Science at the school, and she attended the meeting as well with a lot of questions to ask.

Julie Christie

Julie Christie is the Equine Science Program Director and instructor at RCTC (photo from thelandonline.com)

“We were asking why she never gave us a chance to turn this program around, or to meet new goals, or change things to make it more feasible for the college,” said Christie. “No one ever told us what we needed to do to keep this program going. We didn’t have a chance.”

“A member of the Advisory Council told the President ‘we have a lot of smart people on this board who run businesses and have great connections,’” said Christie. “’You never asked us what we could do to help this program stay afloat’. She basically said ‘what are you gonna do?’ It was very hostile.”

Christie had a private meeting with the President the Friday before the college-wide meeting took place. “I had asked to talk with her to discuss alternatives to closing the program. As we were talking, she made a surprising statement, saying ‘Well, you know, this program was started because of rich doctors’ wives that wanted to learn how to ride.’”

“It was just so shocking, I didn’t know what to say,” said Christie.

“President McClellon then added, ‘You know that rich horse owners keep their horses in California, and fly out on weekends to ride them.’ How do you make a blanket statement like that?” asked Christie.

“That [first] comment was an insult to the women of Rochester and everyone who works at Mayo Clinic,” said Dr. Pam Whitfield. Dr. Whitfield designed the original curriculum in 2003, and taught the first class offered the next year.

Audrey Lidke was a counselor and transfer specialist at RCTC for 30 years. “More than 500 horses can be found within ten minutes of campus. I talked to ropers, trainers, nutritionists, barn builders, and even truck sales people before I decided to start the program,” said Lidke. She added, “Dr. Pam Whitfield created all the curriculum for free, which was a $30,00 in kind gift to get the program going.”

“We started this program after talking with literally dozens of people to determine there was a need for this kind of offering at RCTC,” said Lidke.

“Every college in the MnSCU system is supposed to have a program review process in place,” said Whitfield. “Doing a thorough program review is a prerequisite for closing a program. The Equine Program was not given this opportunity.”

Dr. Pam Whitifeld

Dr. Pam Whitfield on the back of her horse, Casper (Photo from blogs.mprnews.org) http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2011/10/pam_whitfield/

“She did not do her homework,” said Dr. Whitfield. “You know, college presidents do not close programs. The MnSCU Chancellor closes programs and he bases his decision on paperwork filed with his office. The application (for closure) must show the proper process was followed.”

Whitfield has served on the equine advisory board since its inception. She said, “The faculty was blindsided. The advisory board was blindsided. There was no due process.”

The RCTC Faculty Academic Affairs and Standards Council weighed in on the discussion with an email to President McClellon that called her attention to the MnSCU Policies and Procedures Manual. Chapter Three deals with Education Policies that cover program closure.

The manual states, “The Chancellor must approve closure of an academic program.” Approval of the closure will only come if certain conditions are met. Chapter Three further states that the application for closure must come with documented information, with a list of nine topics that have to be covered. You can find the complete list here.

The email does point out that McClellon is new to MnSCU and RCTC, so the President may not know that she has not followed protocol. The Council mentioned they have received no paperwork showing that the nine sub-points have been met that would allow the application for closure to even be sent to the Chancellors Office.

The email goes on to say: “The college works best when faculty and administration work together and when both the contract as well as the procedures developed to observe the letter and spirit of the contract are followed.  Your decision to act without faculty consultation is detrimental to a collaborative working environment and reveals your disrespect for faculty and contempt for the faculty contract.”

Not only is Jonathon Holland left in limbo, but also there are students in the program who don’t know what their future holds. “We have about 30 students in the program currently,” said Julie Christie. “They’re all planning on finishing. They’re good students who are self-starters who know what they’re doing.”

A great many of the programs graduates go on to start their own businesses, and Christie said, “It’s too bad, because the Minnesota economy is going to lose out on a lot of businesses that would have been started.” Records show that more than 25 alumni have gone on to start a business, and Christie asked, “Isn’t that what Minnesota would like to promote in its own state?”

Technical programs (like veterinary technology, horticulture, EMT, dental hygiene, etc.) are admittedly more expensive than other programs, but they require a lot of hands on learning. Christie said, “Hands-on learning means more facility cost, smaller class sizes, more inventory, and et cetera. Many of these students come to a Community and Technical College (as opposed to a four-year school) because this is where they learn the skills they need for a successful career.”

“Why would you take technical programs away from a Technical College like RCTC?” Christie said, “It appears as if the administration is trying to get rid of these programs, and if they do, wouldn’t that be the death of our college?”

It may not end here. President McClellon met with the Equine Science students to inform them of the decision. Holland’s students returned and told him that the President said they might be looking at up to 9 other programs for potential suspension or closure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not much change to Minnesota fence law

The need for man to fence in livestock has been around a long time, and Minnesota is no exception. Minnesota Statutes, Chapters 346 and 561, cover livestock fencing, and state that a landowner does not need to fence his land against the livestock of another landowner. The livestock owner is required to restrain his livestock from entering the land of another.

Cattle behind a fence

Humans have fenced in livestock as far back as anyone can remember. But who actually pays for fencing in Minnesota Law Books? (Photo from www.extension.org)

However, Minnesota Statute, Chapter 344, supplements the Common Law of 346 and 351. Chapter 344 covers “partition fencing,” and says the livestock owner is not the only one responsible for maintaining the fence that keeps livestock on his land and off his neighbors. A landowner who doesn’t have livestock may have to pay his neighbor to help put up that fence.

“When there’s adjoining land and one of the parties wants to have a fence erected, the other adjoining landowner has to pay for half. That’s the long and short of it,” said Bruce Kleven, President of Kleven Law in Minneapolis, and a lobbyist for the Minnesota Cattlemen and Minnesota Wheat Growers.

Bruce Kleven

Bruce Kleven of the Kleven Law Office in Minneapolis, Minnesota (Photo courtesy of brucekleven.com)

The obligation doesn’t stop when the fence is put up, either. “It says build and maintain in here (the statute),” said Kleven. “If we think that out, say 20 years go by and you have to paint it, the adjoining landowner would pay half the cost.”

Kleven has been involved in agriculture law for years, and said he thinks many farmers may not even know the law exists. “I think most farmers, if they want to put up a fence, they put up a fence, and they don’t even know they could charge the adjoining landowner for half the cost,” said Kleven. “Property law has been around a long time. It’s old. It’s mid-1800’s.”

“The law itself is a territorial law, which means it predates Minnesota statehood,” said Kleven. “When you look at the development of the law, it was put in out state code in 1858 when we hit state hood. There was an amendment in 1866, and then a couple more in the late 1800’s.”

“Since then, it’s been pretty quiet on Minnesota fencing law through most of the Twentieth Century,” said Kleven.

The only recent amendment to the law was applied in 1994. “The amendment said this law applies to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) like it does to everyone else,” said Kleven. “Elk farming was taking hold at that time. For clarity, I think they said if there’s an elk farm next to a piece of DNR property, this law applies to the DNR like it does to everybody else.”

“I don’t think we’ve had any bills attempting to change the fencing law at the Legislature since 2000 and ‘02,” said Bruce Kleven. “House and Senate members from the Otter Tail County area brought a bill forward, but it never really moved.” He said, “Then, in 2002, House and Senate members from Wright County brought the same issue, and it didn’t move either.”

“What they were trying to do is change the fence law because urban sprawl was beginning to cause conflicts between farmers and non-farmers,” said Bruce. “The non-farmers were moving out into the country and asking ‘why do I have to help pay for your fence?’”

Minnesota hasn’t seen a large number of fencing conflicts in recent years. “There was a court case in 2001 up in Lake of the Woods County,” said Bruce. “The case made it to the Court of Appeals in St. Paul, and the main question there was what kind of fence would be used instead of whether or not one was needed.”

“Some of why it’s so quiet is if you go back 100 years, we had more grazing, cattle, and prairie. Quite a bit of livestock has left the state, and we’re seeing more confinement and feedlot-type activity, so that may be some reasons why we haven’t see a lot of land use conflict,” said Kleven.

“Just think of the Dakotas. Miles and miles of fences, and we just don’t have that here.”

Kleven did find one exception to the state Statues. “The local Township Board, by resolution, may exempt adjoining landowners or occupants from this Statute when their land is less than 20 acres,” he said. “That can get into your suburban landowner who moves a couple miles out of town and only has five acres. They can take it to the town board and get an exemption.”

Salmonella cases linked to raw, frozen chicken entrees

MDA logoST. PAUL, Minn. – State health and minnesota-department-of-health-logoagriculture officials said today that six recent cases of salmonellosis in Minnesota have been linked to raw, frozen, breaded and pre-browned, stuffed chicken entrees. The implicated product is Antioch Farms brand A La Kiev raw stuffed chicken breast with a U.S. Department of Agriculture stamped code of P-1358. This product is sold at many different grocery store chains.

Investigators from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) determined that six cases of Salmonella infection from August and September 2014 were due to the same strain of Salmonella Enteritidis. One person was hospitalized for their illness.

“Our DNA fingerprinting found that the individuals were sickened by the same strain of Salmonella,” said Dr. Carlota Medus, epidemiologist for the Foodborne Diseases Unit at MDH. “The Minnesota Department of Agriculture collected samples of the same type of product from grocery stores and the outbreak strain of Salmonella was found in packages of this product.”

There have been six outbreaks of salmonellosis in Minnesota linked to these types of products from 1998 through 2008. This is the first outbreak since improvements were made in 2008 to the labeling of these products. The current labels clearly state that the product is raw.
Salmonella is sometimes present in raw chicken, which is why it is important for consumers to follow safe food-handling practices. This includes cooking all raw poultry products to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. “The problem arises when consumers don’t realize that they are handling and preparing a raw product,” according to Dr. Carrie Rigdon, an investigator for the MDA Dairy and Food Inspection Division.

MDA and MDH officials advised that consumers with these products in their freezers, if they choose to use them, should cook them thoroughly. Other important food handling practices include hand washing before and after handling raw meat, keeping raw and cooked foods separate to avoid cross-contamination, and placing cooked meat on a clean plate or platter before serving. Consumers can find more information about safe food-handling practices on the MDH website at: www.health.state.mn.us/foodsafety

Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps and fever. Symptoms usually begin within 12 to 72 hours after exposure, but can begin up to a week after exposure. Salmonella infections usually resolve in 5 to 7 days, but approximately 20 percent of cases require hospitalization. In rare cases, Salmonella infection can lead to death, particularly in the elderly or those with weakened immune systems.

Approximately 700 cases of salmonellosis are reported each year in Minnesota.

More information on Salmonella and how to prevent it can be found on the MDH website at www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/salmonellosis/index.html

Propane supply replenishing after a rough winter

 

 

Did you know that propane is a key fuel in the United States, as it heats over six millionPropane pic 2 homes in the winter?  According to philly.com, it’s vital to American farms as well, because it runs grain dryers after a wet fall harvest season, and it keeps livestock barns all over the country warm too.

According to reuters.com, propane is becoming a key component on the nation’s farms at the other end of the growing season.  After finishing spring planting, more and more farmers are using propane to power their irrigation equipment, and they’re having success doing it.  Farmers are reporting a significant decline in the amount of fuel they need, which in turn saves them a lot on their overall cost of fuel.

However, philly.com reports that after a brutal winter in the Midwest and Northeast USA, there are questions about the supply of propane.  Despite the fact that the nation produces more propane than it can consume domestically, there was a big shortage of propane during the winter heating season.  The shortage was so bad, 30 states declared emergencies, and loosened certain trucking restrictions on propane deliveries from other areas.  Governments boosted heating aid to low-income residents, and propane dealers were forced to ration the fuel.

Several factors contributed to the shortage.  Field to Field talked with a couple gentlemen who are deeply involved in the propane industry.  Mark Leitman is the Director of Marketing and Business Development for the Propane Education and Research Council, and Phil Smith is the lead energy salesman for the Aurora Cooperative in Nebraska.  They both called last winter a “perfect storm” for the propane industry, and feel the supply will be enough for next winter, and in the years ahead.

 

A farmer works on a propane irrigator engine (Photo from Alexis Abel, Public Relations Council at Swanson Russell)

A farmer works on a propane irrigator engine (Photo from Alexis Abel, Public Relations Council at Swanson Russell)

 

 

 

 

 

The 18th Annual Pro Bull Riding Event is this weekend in Rochester

The 18th Annual Bull Riding Challenge is coming to the Graham Complex at the Olmsted County Fairground in Rochester this Friday and Saturday night. The even begins at 7:30 each night, with the doors opening at 6:00.

A wild, eight-second ride is all that will stand between experience bull riders and cash prizes. Of course, that wild ride will come atop a 1,200 to 2,000 pound bull. It’s guaranteed to be a lot of fun for the whole family to watch.

Matt Merritt is a veteran rodeo entertainer, which he said used to be called a rodeo clown. He said, “the bulls are legitimate athletes, and they have their own personalities. They’re amazing when you get a chance to sit and watch how the work.” He said, “The bulls have their own way of doing things and their job is to simply spill the rider as quickly as possible.”

Matt Merritt is a professional rodeo entertainer who will appear at a bullfighting event this weekend in Rochester (photo courtesy of Matt Merritt)

Matt Merritt is a professional rodeo entertainer who will appear at a bullfighting event this weekend in Rochester (photo courtesy of Matt Merritt)

If you aren’t familiar with riding, you may be surprised to learn there’s no saddle and no halter either. It’s much more challenging than that.

Merritt said, “The rider climbs on the bull with a braided bullrope that has a handle, similar to a bullwhip. The rope is wrapped around the body of the animal, behind the front legs,  while the cowboy grips the handle. The rope is pulled tight, which snugs the handle down on the hand.”

Next, the excess portion of the rope is held in the rider’s open hand. Merritt said, “The rope isn’t actually tied to the bull. It’s wrapped around the animal’s body, so the rider’s strength is what holds him on the bull.” He then has to stay balanced on the bull, and Merritt said, “It’s all the strength of his leg and groin muscles that keep him on the bull’s back.”

It’s a big challenge. “If the rider touches the bull with his free hand, he’s disqualified,” said Merritt.

Matt Merritt, pro rodeo entertainer, plays to the crowd at a recent event (photo courtesy of Matt Merritt)

Matt Merritt, pro rodeo entertainer, plays to the crowd at a recent event (photo courtesy of Matt Merritt)

Merritt is a veteran rodeo entertainer. His job is to keep the crowd entertained, and to keep the audience from realizing the show has come to a pause as they manage 40 bulls. “They’ll buck ten bulls in a section, and then they have to reset the bulls for the next ten rides. My job is to keep the show flowing with crowd interaction, humor, dancing, and keep the crowd from realizing the show has come to a temporary stop,” said Merritt.

He said the job has changed over the years. Bull fighting is no longer part of the rodeo clown’s job. “Years ago, when rodeo first started, there was one guy in the ring that did it all. As the sport has developed, bullfighting has become a separate job from entertaining,” said Merritt.

Merritt said he’s been in the rodeo business for roughly fifteen years now. “I started when I was about fifteen years old. I’ve been all over the country, and have gone to Canada and Australia as well,” said Merritt. “Rodeo was common back in northwest Louisiana where I grew up. I found a way to fit in and not have to risk myself quite like the bull fighters do.”

Overflow viewing will be offered this year. Folks who want to get away from the crowd or find a better view, you can go to an adjacent arena, to an area with concessions and bar service.

Friday night is “Tough Enough to wear Pink Night.”

For more information, check out the MF Production website at www.RochesterBullRiding.com. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to show support for breast cancer awareness. Sponsors have agreed to donate money for each person that wears pink.
Other events include a dance both nights, plus, don’t miss the fan favorite event Mexican Poker.

Agenda 21 is either sound policy or something sinister

Agenda 21 first came into being as a “non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations regarding sustainable development” at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. The icleausa.org website says the gathering, also known as “Earth Summit,” took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  However, based on whom you ask, this document may be more than that.

The original Agenda 21 document (photo from agendatwentyone.wordpress.com)

The original Agenda 21 document (photo from agendatwentyone.wordpress.com)

 

Visit the bgci.org website and you’ll find Agenda 21 described as a “process for meeting the needs of the present generation without harming the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”  Americanfreedomwatchradio.com calls Agenda 21 an “elitist plan to control your life, demanding you do as I say not as I do.”

 

Agenda 21 is born

 

According to the un.com website, the “Earth Summit” was a first-of-its-kind U.N. Conference, both in terms of the number of attendees, and the wide-ranging scope of concerns it dealt with. The U.N. sought to help world governments redo their economic development processes, as well as limit the use of disappearing natural resources and reduce damage to the environment.

 

Hundreds of thousands of people attended the conference in Rio.  The message of the conference was “that nothing less that a complete change of thinking, in both attitudes and behaviors, would bring about necessary changes.”

 

Townhall.com notes as a result of the Earth Summit, over 170 countries signed on to Agenda 21, including then-American President George H.W. Bush

Earth Summit delegates signing the Earth Pledge (photo from the guardian.com)

Earth Summit delegates signing the Earth Pledge (photo from the guardian.com)

 

Agenda 21 and hidden motives

 

Americans Against Agenda 21 is a group based in Rochester, Minnesota, and in recent years began noticing some interesting terms popping up in their local neighborhood planning meetings.

 

Their website, aaa21.org, notes the terms included “sustainable development, open space, heritage areas, historic preservation, comprehensive managing, growth areas, and smart growth.”  The group said, “all of these terms sound good, and we thought they were things we could support.”  However, as time went by, they learned more about Agenda 21.

 

AAA21 says those “good sounding terms have a foundation directly in Agenda 21.”

More walking paths over fewer cars on the roads because of Agenda 21? (photo by Chad Smith)

More walking paths over fewer cars on the roads because of Agenda 21? (photo by Chad Smith)

 

The website notes that some readers may think it “sounds like a crazy conspiracy.”  They say, “It may sound like some crazy kook theory that the average person should just write off.”  They encourage readers to look through all the evidence on their website and make their own decisions.

 

The people behind Agenda 21

Glen Beck is a one-time political commentator for Fox News, and he offered some evidence supporting the theory that Agenda 21 is not what it seems:

 

 

 

 

Plans in motion

 

In a video posted by Jason A on Youtube.com, local communities around the country are realizing what Agenda 21 actually is:  an infiltration of local governments by globalists in the United Nations:

 

 

The “stack em and pack em” comment in the video caught the attention of Steve Roberts, a member of Rochester, Minnesota-based Americans Against Agenda 21.  He says it’s begun happening in recent years to Rochester residents.

 

“In recent years, planning department are putting increasing pressure on homeowner associations regarding an increasing number of bike paths, less and less parking, and shoe-horning multi-family developments into residential areas.”

 

He offered up the example of a new development on Fifth Avenue Southwest in Rochester.  “It’s right there, literally next door to single-family homes on all sides,” said Roberts.  “Neighborhood residents didn’t want it there, but the city said the

More multi-family dwellings and less homes in Agenda 21? (Photo by Chad Smith)

More multi-family dwellings and less homes in Agenda 21? (Photo by Chad Smith)

project owner did due diligence, and we’re going to allow it, right in the middle of a residential neighborhood.”  His allegations were confirmed in Amendment to Land Use Planning  #R2014-001LUPA, showing a medium-density, multi-family dwelling put into a residential neighborhood.

 

He offered as proof of his claims a written document that Rochester’s membership in the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives, which is a United Nations-backed organization, directly created by the original Agenda 21 document to influence local governments.  Roberts included a string of emails with then-Rochester City Planner Phil Wheeler stating Rochester’s ICLEI dues totaled $1,710.

What happens to modern Agriculture under Agenda 21? (photo by Chad Smith)

What happens to modern Agriculture under Agenda 21? (photo by Chad Smith)

 

 

“This is not going to go away,” said Roberts.

 

The americanpolicy.org website agrees with Roberts.  They say, “Isn’t Agenda 21 just a plan to protect the environment and stop urban sprawl?”  No.  They say they oppose Agenda 21 because it is designed to control every aspect of our lives.

 

How will Agenda 21 affect individuals?

 

The teaparty911.org website called Agenda 21 “a substantial attack on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.”  They state Agenda 21 is designed to replace the economic and social structure of the United States, and offered up some of the “unsustainable” targets:

 

Page Number Unsustainable =We will take this away!
337 Ski runs
350 Grazing of livestock
351 Disturbance of soil surface-plowing of soil, building fences
728 Commercial Agriculture-Modern farm production, chemical fertilizers, fossil fuels, etc.
730 Any Industrial activity
730 “Human-made caves of brick and mortar (single family homes)
730 Paved and tarred roads, Railroads, floor and wall tiles
733 Technology, range lands, fish ponds, plantations or rangelands
738 Harvesting timber and modern hunting
748 Logging activities
755 Dams and reservoirs, straightening of rivers
757 Power line construction
763 Economic systems that fail to set proper value on the environment.
Will Agenda 21 mean the end of golf courses? (Photo by Chad Smith)

Will Agenda 21 mean the end of golf courses? (Photo by Chad Smith)

 

Conspiracy theory or sound policy?

 

Americans Against Agenda 21 said on it’s website, “after investigation, we found that the essential elements of this document are being supported locally, sometimes using public tax dollars.  Not only are the elements supported, they are being implemented as well.”

 

They say it’s “not remote. It’s not abstract and off in the future. It’s here, and it’s here now.”

 

They and other groups against Agenda 21 invite readers to do their own research, and form their own opinions on whether or not it’s a global conspiracy or sound environmental policy.

Farm Bureau sues EPA over alleged confidentiality breach

The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Pork Producers Council are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over the release of personal information on tens of thousands of individual farmers and ranchers back in early 2013.

 

Danielle Quist is the Senior Counsel for Public Policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C. She said the EPA received a request from environmental groups under the Freedom of Information Act regarding Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFO’s.  The EPA defines Animal Feeding Operations as agricultural operations where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking feed.

Quist said the EPA recently asked states to provide information on the CAFO’s in their borders, and talked about the information they compiled from 29 of the 50 states:

Are beef cattle farmers and ranchers safe from animal activism? (Photo by Chad Smith)

Are beef cattle farmers and ranchers safe from animal activism? (Photo by Chad Smith)

 

According to FoxNews.com, the FOIA request came from three environmental activist groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Pew Charitable Trust, and EarthJustice.   Quist said, “Without looking at what was contained in the requests, released all the information.”  The Farm Bureau says that’s where the problem arises.

 

Quist said “we found that states had given the EPA things like personal home phone numbers, personal email addresses, and even the GPS location of where each house was precisely located on these farms.  EPA literally put a bow on it, turned around, and handed the information to these environmental organizations.”

 

“We’re not talking about the number of animals on a farm, or the type of manure storage facility on the farm, which we have no problem with people knowing.  We’re talking about personal information.”

 

Quist said EPA’s position is “this information is available in the public domain, and they’re under no obligation to redact any of it.  Farm Bureau’s position is “if the home and the business are co-located, that is a home address, and there is case law in Minnesota, where the suit was filed, to support this.  Supreme Court decisions, for decades, have said that’s all personal information.” She said “the Supreme Court has said even though you run a business from home, that’s still all private information.”

 

Farm Bureau is concerned about the potential for mischief at these operations.  “You’ve got generations of family members that live on the site of these operations,” said Quist.  “We’re not trying to protect farmers with separate business locations and information, we’re trying to protect the farmers that live on site with a spouse and children, and we want their information to be kept private.”

Olmsted County Farm Bureau in Eyota, Mn (Photo by Chad Smith)

Olmsted County Farm Bureau in Eyota, Mn (Photo by Chad Smith)

 

According to the nationalreview.com, agro-terrorism is a new term that burst into the national spotlight back in the early hours of January 8, 2012.  A fire broke out at Harris Farms in the San Joaquin Valley of California, destroying 14 trailer trucks and causing more than 2 million dollars in damage.  An anonymous news release from the Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility, describing how the attack took place, and concluded threateningly: “until next time.”

The Animal Liberation Front is a worldwide organization as you can see in this video.  The American Farm Bureau doesn’t want this kind of activism in America:

 

Bob Stallman, the President of the American Farm Bureau, told Agri-Pulse.com “EPA is in effect holding up a loudspeaker and broadcasting where private citizens live and where their children play.”

Are farms public businesses or private homes?  (Photo by Chad Smith)

Are farms public businesses or private homes? (Photo by Chad Smith)

 

Quist expects the case to “be in motions for summary judgment by this summer,” and is hoping for a final ruling by the end of 2014.  “This is a case everyone should be paying attention too.  If the EPA gets away with breaching confidentiality, which government agency will be next?”

 

America’s livestock industry fights back against misinformation

Animal rights groups around the nation have gone on attack against livestock production facilities all over the country, and livestock farmers have begun to fight back through social media and direct interaction with consumers.

 

One of the more recent videos put out to the public by the group Mercy for Animals is available on YouTube.  It’s graphic and very offensive in nature:

 

Emily Meredith is the Communications Director for the Animal Agriculture Alliance, and she says what you’re seeing in videos like this isn’t the whole picture.

 

Emily Meredith, Communications Director for the Animal Ag Alliance

Emily Meredith, Communications Director for the Animal Ag Alliance

She said the Animal Ag Alliance is a “non-profit, broad based coalition of everyone in the animal ag food chain.”  The chain includes “farmers, ranchers, producer organizations, and veterinarians.”  She said the goal of the organization is to speak “with a unified voice, to the media and public about top of mind issues, which includes animal rights.”

 

The Alliance feels the real motivation for these videos are more bottom line oriented.  Meredith said “they’re trying to use these videos to fundraise.  They’re also trying to scare the American consumer into believing that their meat and eggs are not being produced humanely, which drives their vegan agenda.”

 

 

Dal Grooms is a spokeswoman for the Iowa Cattleman’s Association, and spoke to Fox News.  She said these activists aren’t in it for the animals benefit.  “Who cares more about the livestock?  The farmers who own it and make sure it’s healthy, or people that kind of stop in for a bit, and then move on to their next victim?  They’re trying to put livestock farmers out of business, and they’re trying to raise money too.”

Livestock farmers are battling back against misinformation

Livestock farmers are battling back against misinformation (Photo by Chad Smith)

 

Meredith said the food production chain has checks and balances in place to ensure that animals are treated humanely.  “There are animal welfare programs in place in each sector of the livestock industry, and buyers want to insure that farmers are following these guidelines.  If farmers are abusing animals, they’re not going to stay in business long because no one will buy product from them.”

Livestock of all kinds have come under scrutiny of undercover videos (photo by Chad Smith)

Livestock of all kinds have come under scrutiny of undercover videos (photo by Chad Smith)

 

According to msn.com, “the meat and poultry industries have begun to push back against animal activists by trying to get bills passed against shooting undercover video in production facilities.”  Humane Society of the USA California Director Jennifer Fearing said, “I wish the cattlemen actually wanted to stop the cruelty instead of the documenting of cruelty.”  Meredith said there’s more to it than that:

 

 

Meredith said farmers haven’t been vigilant in following sound hiring practices when they look for help around the farm. “They’re farmers, not private investigators,” she said. “A lot of these families haven’t been following up and checking references, so they end up hiring someone who’s seeking to destroy their way of life.”

 

The hog industry has borne the brunt of recent undercover videos (photo courtesy of www.national post.com)

The hog industry has borne the brunt of recent undercover videos (photo courtesy of www.national post.com)

“At the Alliance, we’ve encouraged farmers to do your diligence.  Check references.  Make people apply for work in writing, don’t just hire on a handshake,” said Meredith.  “A lot of farmers now make employees sign agreements that if they see abuse, they’ll report it immediately to the owner or to the authorities.

 

Meredith said there are signs that can help a farmer determine if a worker is there for hidden purposes.  “This person will be in areas they’re not supposed to be in.  They’ll be on the farm after hours in some way.  There may be complaints from other workers that they aren’t following proper procedures,” she said.  “In most cases, when the farmer starts asking questions, that activist is gone.”

 

 

Is it beef or Pink Slime

One of the largest defamation lawsuits in American history revolves around something known as “pink slime,” and that term is at the center of a dispute between ABC News and Beef Processors Inc., of Iowa.  Over one billion dollars is at stake, depending on the outcome of the case.   According to examiner.com, the lawsuit is a result of a series of ABC News investigative reports on how one of the nation’s biggest meat producers prepares its products for the marketplace.  What ABC News characterized as pink slime is what the beef processor calls “lean, finely textured beef.”

Beef cattle farmers await a ruling on "Pink Slime"

Beef cattle farmers await a ruling on “Pink Slime” (Photo by Chad Smith)

Carissa Nath is a meat scientist with the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, which specializes in finding new uses for agricultural products and technology, with the goal of expanding business and employment opportunities.  She explained what Lean, Finely Textured Beef is: “When carcasses are fabricated (cut; broken down) into steaks, roasts and other retail cuts there is always some amount trim left over.  This trim is mainly fat, but often times there will be a good amount of lean that could still be salvaged from this trim.  Due to the fact that carcasses are fabricated manually (by human hands), it is impossible to capture all this lean at the time of fabrication.  This trim can then be slightly heated and spun rapidly (think of a large salad spinner) to remove all the fat and retain all the lean.  The resultant product (beef lean tissue) is LFTB, 100% beef. LFTB is then used in the beef industry by adding it back into other trimmings (ground beef) to make varying levels of lean to fat ratios (85/15 (85% lean 15% fat); 90/10 (90% lean 10% fat), etc, to meet consumer demands.”

Mark Malecek is a cattle farmer from Redwood Falls, Minnesota, and said the goal is to “make the nation’s beef supply go farther, and make beef more affordable for the consumer at the grocery store. They’ve been using this process since 1990.”   The controversy arises when the separated beef is processed, heated, and treated with a cloud of gaseous ammonia to kill E. Coli and other bacteria.  In 2001, the Food Safety and Inspection Service okayed the process, and agreed that the ammonia was a “processing agent, and didn’t need to be listed on the ingredient label.”

According to Reuters, Dr. Gerald Zirnstein was a microbiologist at USDA, who sent an email to fellow scientist, first using the term “pink slime.”  In the email, he said he was “disgusted by the process and USDA’s approval of it,” and coined the term pink slime.  He said “USDA undersold it to the public and the meat industry soft-sold it to consumers.”

The issue came back into the public eye thanks to British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, devoted an episode of his television show “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” to Pink Slime in 2011.

ABC News then picked up the Pink Slime story and ran a series of reports in 2012 about the product.

 

According to the Pink Slime Wikipedia page, as a result of the series run by ABC News, grocery chains, restaurants, and even school districts announced they would no longer be purchasing beef with the Lean, Finely Textured, beef product.   The beef industry was hit hard by the Pink Slime controversy.

On May 8, 2012, Beef Processors Incorporated announced it would be closing three of its four processing plants in the Midwest.  On April 12, another producer, AFA Foods, a ground-beef processor, announced it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  Beef prices on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange hit a three and a half month low.  Malacek said the cattle prices on the Mercantile “went down about three and a half dollars per hundredweight, which is a significant chunk of the local cattlemen’s profit.”  Malecek said prices have returned to where they were before the controversy became news headlines across the country.

Beef prices have rebounded, pending a judge’s decision on “Pink Slime” (photo by Chad Smith)

Beef prices have rebounded, pending a judge’s decision on “Pink Slime” (photo by Chad Smith)

As a result of financial losses, BPI announced on September 13, 2012, that it had filed a 1.2 billion dollar lawsuit against ABC News, claiming damages as a result of the pink slime controversy.  ABC News denied the allegations, and tried to get the case moved from state court to federal court.  In June 2013, a federal judge sent the lawsuit back to state court.   According to Reuters.com, on December 17 of last year, lawyers for ABC News asked South Dakota State Judge Cheryle Gering took under advisement oral arguments from both sides in the case, and will issue ruling in the near future as to whether or not the case will proceed to trial.