CFBlog

November 04 2016

Colorado Farm Bureau Board Member Marc Arnusch Named

2017 Rising Star in Colorado Agriculture

The Colorado FFA Foundation has named Colorado Farm Bureau District 2 Board Member, Marc Arnusch, as the 2017 Rising Star in Colorado Agriculture. The award is given in conjunction with the Farm Credit Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame as a way to recognize the next generation of Colorado agriculture leaders. Award winners are named from nominees between the ages of 35-50 who are currently making significant contributions to Colorado agriculture.

 

Arnusch, a farmer from Prospect Valley, is also a certified crop advisor and water and land use consultant. The CFB District 2 Board Member has become a reputable and articulate public voice for Colorado agriculture with his appearance in television commercials, speaking at various town halls and forums and testifying for favorable agricultural policy at the state legislature and in Washington, D.C. As the 2017 Rising Star in Colorado Agriculture Award recipient, Arnusch has utilized his voice for agriculture to open dialogue between legislators, consumers and the agriculture industry.

 

In addition to his work with Colorado Farm Bureau, Arnush has also served on the Colorado Corn Administrative Committee, the Aims Community College Ag Advisory Board, the Weld County Comprehensive Plan Committee, and the Valley Bank and Trust Ag Advisory Committee. He also currently serves as a Colorado Groundwater Commissioner, the Wagoneer 4-H Crops Leader and basketball coach for the Weld Central Rebels Basketball Club.

 

Arnusch will be recognized as the recipient of the Rising Star in Colorado Agriculture Award during the Farm Credit Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame Banquet on Feb. 22, 2017. Inductees into the Farm Credit Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame for 2017 include Charlie Bartlett of Merino, Bill Markham of Berthoud, Dale McCall of Longmont, and Bill Webster of Greeley. Industry and political leaders as well as family farmers and ranchers who lead and support the agriculture industry and its future are invited to attend the banquet.

 
 
 

If you are interested in attending the Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture, click here.

 
July 20 2016

This post needs to start with a confession: my knowledge of politics in the U.S. has historically been woefully small. In my defense, I was raised overseas and spent years scrambling to catch up with my peers on rudimentary civics knowledge. I’ll never forget sitting in my first political science class in college and thinking to myself, “what the heck are the Articles of Confederation,” and, “School House Rock, you really failed me.” I tell you this because, if it sounds like I’m dumbing this down, that’s not my intention; I just don’t assume we all have a fount of knowledge about government.

Onward!

The Colorado Constitution has a long and illustrious history. You can truly fall down a rabbit hole of Wikipedia articles learning about the stuttering start of it, but I am here to be your trusty summarizer (not of Wikipedia, just the facts). We start here because if you have no idea what the problem is, why would you care about fixing it?

Our constitution was ratified a hundred years into our great nation’s history (hint: that’s why we’re officially called the Centennial State, even though that’s not quite as jazzy as Colorful Colorado). At this point, a solid framework was set for how state constitutions were written. Our original constitution played nice with expectations, with some oddities thrown in, because we are the Wild West after all.

Then came 1910. DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNN. It was at this point in our state’s history that direct democracy came into play. Direct democracy is the idea that I, Anna Q. Citizen, through various avenues, can work to change things in my state constitution and statutes without having to go directly through the legislature. There were all kinds of verbiage and amendments that went down in 1910, but what is relevant here and now is that I can just as easily start a ballot initiative to amend the Colorado Constitution as I can start a ballot initiative to create a statute.

Blink blink. “So? Isn’t it great that you have a voice, Anna Q. Citizen?”

It sure is, because I like to talk. BUT (the dreaded but - stick with me, it’s worth it I promise), statutes and constitutional amendments are not the same thing and they should not be interchangeable.

The Colorado Constitution is our framework, our foundation as a state, similar to the Constitution of the United States of America. It outlines how we govern, not necessarily what we govern.

Statutes, on the other hand, are laws. This is where change should happen. The nuts and bolts of daily life, within the context of our Constitutional framework. Citizens should be able to influence both, but our constitution should be better protected than simple statutes.

Constitutions should be slow to change and involve fundamental issues. Statutes should be where hot topic issues are dealt with, so that they are able to be applied properly and upheld in the legal system in a healthy way.

Constitutions should change like so:

But currently Colorado’s Constitution changes a little more like this:

Why? Because to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot, it only takes 100,000 signatures on a petition without regard to geographic representation.

*Fun fact: you can do that without ever leaving Denver.

This means the process by which you amend the Colorado Constitution, our bedrock, can be completed without ever hearing voices from all areas of the state. It also means companies with big bucks can come in, pay people to hang out at Safeway in Denver, and impact our bedrock governing document.

Currently, our State Constitution has 150 amendments. The US Constitution has 27.

In the last ten years, there have been dozens of proposed constitutional amendments. Only two proposed statutes.

That’s a mess, y’all.

Let me show you why with an example.

I, Anna Q. Citizen, feel passionately that in the state of Colorado all cats should wear pants. I want all my peers to have the opportunity to vote for this because I just know that they will agree with me. Awesome. A statute is a great place for my cat pants issue. If voted in as a statute, then it would become a law. A law that can be argued in court, and adjusted to various issues. “Fine, you put your cats in dresses, you don’t have to put pants on them too. That is a reasonable exception,” so sayeth the judge.

BUT (there it is again), why settle for that when I can get it put in the Colorado Constitution that all cats have to wear pants?! It’s just as easy, and that way there’s no arguing it. It’s the Constitution. So, I get it on the ballot as a constitutional amendment, and it passes. Joe Schmoe is appalled that this has become part of the Constitution, so the next year he starts his ballot initiative saying cats cannot wear pants. It passes (really voters, read up on things, don’t just willy nilly vote), as a constitutional amendment. “Excuse me, isn’t that conflicting and confusing?” Thanks for asking; it sure is.

And, to make matters worse, let’s take the example one step further. Say it is no longer Anna Q. Citizen, cat loving, concerned Coloradan, but Anna Q. Citizen, CEO of Cat Pants International who gets involved. She lives in a far off state, but knows that Colorado is prime for the picking when it comes to making constitutional amendments. She uses her pile of money to pay people to get the needed 100,000 signatures to get her cat pants amendment on the ballot, as opposed to getting it on the ballot as a proposed statute. Change is now not even coming from a citizen, rather a big corporation whose interests are probably not in line with the everyday Coloradan.

This is why the Colorado Constitution is well on its way to becoming totally bananas. Something has to change.

Constitutions are our framework, our foundation. There should be a process to amend, but it should be slow and steady and factor in diverse and representative voices. Thats where Raise the Bar, Protect our Constitution comes in.

Raise the Bar will be on the ballot this November. This initiative will change:

1.       The signatures needed to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot in Colorado would need to come from at least 2% of registered voters in each of the state’s 35 senate districts. This means that access to the ballot will involve the entire state, not just the I-25 corridor.

2.       It would change the requirement for passage from a simple majority (50% of voters +1 person) to 55%.

3.       Nothing about initiating or passing statutes changes.

Raise the Bar is a win-win. Voices can still be heard. Cats can still wear pants. All of this in the appropriate place, as state statutes. Our constitution will be protected. Nothing about cats will be added to the foundational document of our state. At least, not without representing 2% of geographically diverse registered voters in the initiative process and 55% of those voting for it once it’s on the ballot..

Click here. You know you want to.

 

 
July 14 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 14, 2016 – “Today’s House passage of GMO disclosure legislation means we now begin the work of putting in place a uniform, national labeling system that will provide balanced, accurate information to consumers. Genetically engineered crops have a decades-long track record of safety and benefits for agricultural productivity and our environment. This legislation helps to continue those benefits by avoiding the confusion of differing and potentially misleading labeling standards from state to state. The next stop is the president’s desk. We are pleased that Congress has moved quickly to finish the job.”

June 22 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 22, 2016 – Congress must act quickly to keep fast-growing herds of feral horses and burros from further damaging the environment of the western United States, the American Farm Bureau Federation said today. At current rates, AFBF said, their already excessive numbers will double in a mere four years.

Callie Hendrickson, chair of AFBF’s Federal Lands Issue Advisory Committee, testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands. Hendrickson also serves as executive director of the White River and Douglas Creek Conservation Districts in Rio Blanco County, Colorado.

“The rangeland of the West has its share of unique natural resource challenges, not least of which is the burden it carries of an overpopulation of wild horses and burros,” Hendrickson said. “This overabundance is critically damaging the ecology of western rangelands with severe, long-term consequences for the native plant and animal life that call it home.”

Even though law requires it, the Bureau of Land Management has neither the money nor the ability to fairly balance wild horse and burro populations so that other wildlife, livestock and vegetation can thrive. Ranchers face rapidly shrinking grazing allotments while continuing to pay for the allotments they once had lest they lose them – if and when the grazing lands recover from severe overgrazing by feral horses and burros. 

“Populations of wild horses and burros have been allowed to grow at a rate that in many places exceeds six times their authorized management level,” Hendrickson told the subcommittee. “This situation has not only led to widespread degradation of western rangelands, but has also had devastating effects on the health of the animals themselves who often face dehydration, starvation and death … The need for congressional intervention cannot be overstated.”

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February 23 2016

Last weekend, thousands of Young Farmer and Rancher and Collegiate Farm Bureau members gathered in Kansas City for AFBF's YF&R Conference. Throughout the conference, the Collegiate Discussion Meet took place and Colorado's own Kole Kelly, Adams State, finished as a finalist. Kelley received a $1,250 scholarship from AFBF.

"It's a great honor and accomplishment to have made to the final four considering all the great participants and speakers here," Kelley said. "I'd just like to thank Adams State Collegiate Farm Bureau, Colorado Farm Bureau and AFBF for giving me this opportunity and platform to discuss issues facing agriculture; it's something I am very passionate about."

Kelley is a senior at Adams State and is the president of ASU's Collegiate FB chapter. He also plays wide receiver on ASU's football team. Upon graduation, Kelley plans to attend law school  to pursue a career in water law to help protect Colorado's water.

Picture above: Kole Kelley (far left) pictured with the Discussion Meet Finalist

Picture above: CSU Collegiate Reece Melton (far right) during his competition.

Pictured above: Kole Kelley speaking during the Final Four of the AFBF Discussion Meet.


 

The conclusion of the YF&R conference meant the conclusion of Zandon and Sara Brays' tenure on AFBF's YF&R Committee. Colorado Farm Bureau would like to recognize and thank them for their commitment and service to AFBF's YF&R Committee.

 

July 23 2015

Today, the House of Representatives voted 258 to 166 to pass the Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act of 2015 (H.R. 1734), which provides for the safe management and disposal of coal ash in a manner that preserves jobs and encourages recycling.

“Obama’s war on coal has to stop. Regulating coal fired power plants out of business hurts the poor; it hurts families; and it hurts farmers. We should be solving problems, not causing them,” said Congressman Buck.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s summary of the legislation can be found here.  According to analysisby the Heritage Foundation, high energy costs caused by Washington regulations disproportionately harm the poor.  They state: “While the median family spends about 5 cents out of every dollar on energy costs, low-income families spend about 20 cents,” which is why President Obama’s energy policies and war on coal hit America’s poor the hardest.  Heritage found that killing the coal industry would result in an income drop of more than $1,200 per year for the typical family of four. The war on coal also kills jobs.  According to the Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety, coal production in the state slipped to a 20-year low in 2014, according to state data. There was a nearly 20 percent cut in mining jobs in Colorado in 2014. 

Rep. Ken Buck (CO-04) is the Freshman Class President. He serves on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  He serves on the OGR Subcommittees on Government Operations and the Interior and is a member of the Judiciary Subcommittees on Immigration and Border Security and Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations.
 

July 14 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 14, 2015 – “The American Farm Bureau Federation is pleased that Congress is moving to bring greater clarity to food labeling. H.R. 1599 empowers consumers by continuing to require warning labels for foods that may have adverse effects on the public. At the same time, it does away with labeling schemes that would stigmatize foods based on nothing more than the way in which they were developed.

 

“This bill is an antidote to anti-GMO initiatives that make people wrongly fear the food they eat. Such regulations generally ignore science and undermine the public’s understanding of the food farmers and ranchers produce. H.R. 1599 restores reason to our food discussions and shows pseudoscience and food quackery the door. We look forward to passage by the full House in the very near future.”

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June 30 2015

(Brad Milligan, standing far right, and his family at the 2012 Colorado Farm Bureau Annual Meeting)

Today Brad Milligin, Colorado Farm Bureau member and professsional beekeeper, submittedt to the Denver Post a 'Letter to the Editor' in responce to the recent article "Abuzz over bees.'

'Abuzz over bees’ is humming with misinformation. As a second generation beekeeper with more than 40 years experience and one of the larger beekeepers in Colorado I am keenly aware of how pesticides and bee colonies can successfully coexist. Pesticides are a concern for beekeepers, but it is a two way street. Many backyard beekeepers will place hives in precarious areas and do not list their hives on Driftwatch, so that applicators can have accurate information prior to spraying. As a professional beekeeper, I cannot afford to make this misstep. We need to have a real conversation on pollinator health, but casting accusations against pesticide use does not create a productive discussion. Pesticides are used to protect our families and pets from West Nile, secure our home and gardens and protect our food supply. We can have a healthy bee population and healthy pest free communities together.

June 26 2015

I would like to thank Sen. Larry Crowder (EPA proposal imposes unnecessary water regulations) for his response on June 22 to the oped that advocated for the EPA’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Like it or not, this rule fundamentally changes how EPA would regulate waters in United States. Furthermore, it takes liberty with two Supreme Court rulings that clearly defined where EPA jurisdiction rests regarding WOTUS.

The Supreme Court ruled in two separate decisions - Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 531 U.S. 159, 172 (2001) (SWANCC) and Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. 715 (2006) - that there are limits to EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act. Yet, the EPA’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act would expand immensely under its proposed WOTUS rule. Among the numerous questionable provisions, the rule would define “navigable waters” so as to regulate countless ephemeral drains, ditches and “wetlands” that only contain water when it rains. But whether they are wet or dry on any given day, farming, home building, business expansions, commercial development and countless other land uses in or near these land features will require a federal permit. Permits might take years, or might never be issued. The result amounts to nothing short of federal zoning authority.

 

Here is an example of a what EPA wants to regulate:

IMG_20141021_143614464.jpg

Photo taken on HW. 94  in Lincoln County, Colo. by a Colorado Farm Bureau staff member.

When Congress passed the Clean Water Act, they intentionally sought to keep the EPA in check. This regulatory expansion of the Clean Water Act by the EPA has to be stopped.

June 15 2015

By George F. Will Opinion writer 

Before presidential politics — the game of getting to 270 electoral votes — completely eclipses governing, there is the urgent task of getting to 217 votes in the House of Representatives to pass trade-promotion authority (TPA). This would guarantee a vote without amendments on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Without TPA, any trade agreement will be nibbled to death in Congress by those eager to do organized labor’s bidding. So, Republicans who oppose TPA are collaborating with those who oppose increasing the velocity and rationality of economic life. 

TPA touches on two challenging problems: one economic, one constitutional. Regarding both, conservatives have special responsibilities.

The economic challenge is to generate economic growth sufficient to restore vigor and upward mobility to an underemployed America, sustaining national security and entitlements as, every day, another 10,000 baby boomers become eligible for Social Security and Medicare. The constitutional problem is how to restore institutional equilibrium by bringing the presidency back within the restraints the Founders devised with the separation of powers.

Only conservatives can turn economic policy away from the self-defeating aim of redistribution and toward growth. This goal would be advanced by the trade agreement among the 12 nations who together account for 37 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and one-third of world trade. Defeating TPA, and thus the agreement, is a service most House Democrats will perform for a reactionary faction, organized labor. Defeat would, however, make economic dynamism even more elusive, punishing the nation without meaningfully disciplining the president. 

This vote comes in the turgid wake of a first quarter in which the economy shrank 0.7 percent — the third quarterly contraction during the anemic recovery that is slouching into its seventh year. The aging recovery began in June 2009; another recession may arrive without there having been a real recovery from the previous one. For Democrats devoted to policies of redistribution, economic growth is an afterthought. Only Republicans can make possible the freer trade that can combat the lingering stagnation that is Barack Obama’s painful legacy. 

This month, Republicans can extinguish the Export-Import Bank, a deplorable instrument for government intervention in economic transactions, simply by not reauthorizing it. How perverse it would be to do so while also opposing TPA and (hence, in effect) freer trade, which would make economic activity less subject to distortions by governments. 

In the 19th century, Republicans embraced a braid of vices — big government and crony capitalism. Adept at using tariffs to purchase the loyalty of particular constituencies, Republicans opposed free trade. Democrats in the 21st century generally want government, rather than markets, to regulate commerce and allocate opportunity, so they recoil from any enlargement of the sphere of economic freedom. The fact that TPA would make possible the ratification of an agreement that is an imperfect enlargement is no reason for Republicans to help Democrats protect the power of governments to further politicize economic life. 

Some Republicans are understandably reluctant to give any satisfaction to Obama, who disdains them as much as he does constitutional limits on presidential power. But a stopped clock is right twice a day, and he rightly favors freer trade. 

Some Republicans resist granting this authority, a traditional presidential prerogative, to a president who has so arrogantly disregarded limits on executive discretion. It is, however, unnecessary to defeat so-called fast-track authority (thereby defeating freer trade) in order to restrain this rogue president. The 22nd Amendment guarantees his departure in 19 months. His lawlessness has prompted congressional resistance on multiplying fronts. The judiciary, too, has repeatedly rebuked him for illegal executive overreaches. So it is neither necessary nor statesmanlike to injure the nation’s future in order to protest Obama’s past. 

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) campaigned hard to prevent a second Obama term, but he strongly favors TPA. He notes that if Obama’s negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program were being conducted under guarantees of congressional involvement similar to those contained in TPA, Congress would enjoy statutorily required briefings on the negotiations and access to the negotiating documents. Furthermore, any agreement with Iran would have to be made public for examination at least 60 days before Obama signed it, after which the agreement could not take effect unless Congress approves it. 

Obama has all the friends in Congress he has earned and deserves, so even among Democrats this cohort is vanishingly small. By passing TPA, House Republicans can achieve a fine trifecta, demonstrating their ability to rise above their justifiable resentments, underscoring his dependence on them and on Congress and illustrating his party’s dependence on factions inimical to economic vitality. 

Read more from George F. Will’s archive or follow him on Facebook.

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