I stand with Cliven Bundy
By Trent Loos
I must start by saying I am greatly disappointed with many fellow cattlemen in the past couple of weeks in their failing to understand the situation that has been unfolding in Nevada with the Bundy family. I fully expect non-farm folks to have a hard time grasping what has been happening, but the number of fellow cattlemen that say he is a jerk and should just pay his fees seems to be a result of their needing to spend a little more time researching the facts.
First of all and most importantly, the Cliven Bundy family has been grazing government-owned land since 1877. As a result of the early pioneers seeking an opportunity and thanks to the Homestead Act 0f 1862, a few ranchers made the voyage and claimed land near water supplies. When that was all said and done the Nevada desert had about 10 percent claimed and the balance fell back to the state.
The state of Nevada, like other Western states back in the day, contacted the homesteaders and asked them to manage their portion of the land in exchange for grazing rights. That was a win-win for everyone and the ranchers were able to invest a great deal of time and labor and turn a seemingly vast wasteland into something that could actually produce food, fiber, fuel and pharmaceuticals.
In doing some cowboy math, if you were to remove 100 percent of the number of cattle that could graze all of the federal lands today, it would reduce the number of protein-based meals produced domestically by 110 million annually.
Fast forward to today with the modern pressures from a loud vocal minority that hates the cow and has used every angle possible to remove the cattle and ranchers from federal lands. They cannot do it legally so they have invented methods by which to get it done—primarily the Endangered Species Act.
Cliven Bundy’s stand has always been that the government has not lived up to their end of the deal they made with his family. The federal government continues to find every means possible to reduce the animal unit months Bundy and all federal lands ranchers have, often without any advance notice.
I am not sure what more proof you need than simply knowing the fact that at one time Clark County, Nev., had 52 ranchers with grazing permits and today it has one. The Bundys are the lone survivors and have been shouting at the top of their lungs trying to educate people about this travesty for 20 years. They may have finally found a way to get people’s attention.
It is the hypocrisy that really needs to be brought to the forefront here. The Bundys have been continually reduced in the number of grazing animals they may have on the range because allegedly the cattle pose a risk to the native habitat for the desert tortoise and 2,000 other endangered species.
Yet the oil companies are expanding. Documents from the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology show significant exploratory drilling being conducted in precisely the same area where the Bundy family has been running cattle since the 1870s.
In addition to oil recovery, it recently came to light that Sen. Harry Reid has ties to a Chinese-owned energy company called ENN Energy Group. ENN Energy, through its lead attorney Rory Reid, son of Sen Harry Reid, has its eyes set on building a solar farm on the same land where Bundy’s cattle now run.
So why is it that cattle are a danger to the habitat and must be removed when other personal interests that fill the pockets of the politically connected seem to be expanding?
For those of you who think this is only a Western grazing lands thing that doesn’t affect the rest of the country, it’s time to wake up. In 1862 Abraham Lincoln told pioneers that if they take the land and make it productive, the government will deed it to them through the Homestead Act. If the government can renege on federal lands grazing rights because they have a better uses for the land, how safe is your deed?
Finally, need I remind you that they are already started implementing these same strategies against private property land owners, or have you not heard about government control of water puddles, the black-footed ferret and the lesser prairie-chicken? It’s time to take a stand before there is nobody left to stand with you!
Editor’s note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or email Trent at firstname.lastname@example.org.