Rocky Ag Notebook: Feeding algae to cattle? Hickenlooper, Senators express EPA concerns | TheFencePost.com

Rocky Ag Notebook: Feeding algae to cattle? Hickenlooper, Senators express EPA concerns

Feeding algae to cattle? Colo. scientists, entrepreneur seek crowd funds to do so

For the past year, Shawn Archibeque, a Colorado State University cattle nutrition expert, has been testing an idea by Aspen entrepreneur Don Van Pelt Smith for feeding cattle the kind of algae eaten by fish. They hope to produce beef high in the good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and other fish.

Now, the two men want to feed the algae to hundreds of cows to see whether the animals can replicate the promising results they've seen after feeding small numbers.

Smith, who also has been working with Oklahoma State University researchers on the project, has built a website and invited the public to help raise $1 million for large-scale testing. He said in a telephone interview Monday that he has raised about $400,000 since the campaign began earlier this month, though some of the money is from a private investor. He could not say how much has been crowd-sourced.

Producers have used the tactic to raise funds for movies and albums, and researchers have used it to track health trends.

Smith said he knew little about the technique before a friend suggested it about a year ago. CSU's Archibeque said in a telephone interview that he had never heard of the fund-raising site Kickstarter until six months ago.

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But as government research funds become more scarce because of federal budget cuts, Archibeque was willing to give something new a try.

— The Associated Press

No more EPA regulations without knowing cost to economy

The Environmental Protection Agency shouldn't be passing more regulations until the American people know the damage the current regulations are causing.

That was the message of U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who cosponsored a bill introduced by Senator Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., that would block the EPA from finalizing any new major regulation until the agency analyzes the economic impact of its current air regulations as required by the Clean Air Act.

The EPA Employment Impact Analysis Act would show the true cost of the EPA's regulations. The legislation cites a number of examples where the EPA concluded that a regulation would result in the creation of jobs but the National Economic Research Associates (NERA) Economic Consulting firm, using a "whole economy" model, reported job losses in the thousands.

— U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

Hickenlooper concerned about EPA-proposed water regulation

Gov. John Hickenlooper joined 15 GOP senators Thursday to urge the Obama administration to reconsider a rule that would allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate marshes, ponds and streams in states.

The EPA proposed the rule — which would give them power over small waterways that flow intermittently — is part of the issue surrounding clarity in the Clean Water Protection act.

The Clean Water Protection act gives the EPA power to monitor and control "U.S. waters," but does not clearly define what waters they can and can't regulate.

Hickenlooper expressed concern to federal officials that the rule change would stonewall the state's ability to manage key water systems, and could negatively impact the Colorado economy.

The rule-change would give the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers clarification on what wetlands and waters they can manage and regulate, such as asking the state to pass a water-quality certification.

Hickenlooper in recent years also has urged the Obama administration to speed up its decisions on water-supply projects that will have an impact on both urban and rural development, as well as to secure enough water to meet demand.

Hickenlooper's worry was expressed by 15 GOP Senators in a letter sent to the Obama administration that faulted the EPA for asking for the ability to regulate the small water systems before a government peer-reviewed scientific assessment was complete.

The senators are concerned about the power invoked by the Clean Water Act and the impact it might have on drought management in several Western states.

— The Denver Business Journal

Gardner introduces safe harbor tax rules for small businesses, farms

Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., recently introduced legislation that would amend Internal Revenue Service regulations that updated how small businesses and farms should treat expenditures to maintain their business equipment.

The IRS provided a "safe harbor" in these new rules that permits small businesses (including farms) to treat expenditures up to $500 as a deductible repair expense. Gardner's legislation would increase this safe harbor amount to include expenses up to $1,000, and would be effective for the current tax year.

"The safe harbor provision recommended by the IRS has good intentions, but the $500 threshold is simply too low," said Gardner. "Small businesses and farmers will be better served under these rules with a $1,000 threshold."

An example may help explain the current IRS regulations: assume a $600 battery is being replaced in a truck, which the taxpayer is required to depreciate. Since the cost of the battery is over the $500 limit for the safe harbor, the taxpayer would need to determine if it is merely a replacement for the current battery (in which case it should be deductible) or if the battery has materially increased the truck's capacity, efficiency, or productivity. If the latter, the battery should be depreciated over the class life of the underlying property – in this case, the truck. This legislation would ensure anything up to $1,000 could be deductible that same tax year.

— Office of U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.

Southeastern Colo town banking on the birds

Filled with tumbleweeds, cow patties and dust, the fields surrounding this century-old homesteaders' outpost harbor an unlikely secret. They're where a rare bird goes to get busy.

Every April, a migration of mountain plover on the prowl turns tiny Karval – population 30 – into a breeding ground.

In turn, residents of the unincorporated farming community 80 miles east of Colorado Springs start spiffing up their guest rooms for visitors who flock here for a glimpse of the plover, a rarely seen native of the West also known as the "Ghost of the Prairie."

It's all part of Karval's annual Mountain Plover Festival – what organizers bill as a one-of-a-kind birding tour in which ranchers feed and lodge festival-goers and offer guided tours of nesting sites, which consist of little more than scratches in the ground on bare or recently plowed fields.

Along the way, visitors receive a privileged glimpse into the challenges and pleasures of life on a high-desert prairie, courtesy of working farmers who are in some cases second- or third-generation homesteaders.

"We want people to come see what it's like to live and work out here, to learn it from people who are involved in agriculture," said Dan Merewether, the treasurer for the Karval Community Alliance, which hosts the two-day festival set for April 25-26.

About to mark its eighth year, the Mountain Plover Festival draws roughly 30 people a year, temporarily doubling Karval's population with birders from the Front Range and beyond, including Canada, Wisconsin, Mississippi and Pennsylvania, organizers say.

— The Colorado Springs Gazette

CSU launching research project to study benefits of equine therapy

A new partnership between two of Colorado State University's flagship academic programs will lead to a better understanding of the potential benefits of equine-assisted activity and therapy.

The five-year research program, led by Wendy Wood, head of CSU's highly ranked Department of Occupational Therapy, is funded by a donation from the Carl and Caroline Swanson Foundation. The $468,000 gift will allow two graduate students, a Ph.D. candidate and Wood to lead the research via a partnership with CSU's world-renowned Equine Sciences Program.

The project will focus on EAAT — an area of study that appears to have tremendous promise, Wood said. Therapists long have known about the special connection between horses and riders, but there is limited documented research on the effectiveness of equine-assisted therapy.

While part of the project will be documenting existing research, Wood and her graduate students will do their own research at CSU's famed Equine Center. A good deal of the work is expected to be completed at the proposed Temple Grandin Research Center at the Equine Center, which is expected to be completed in two years.

Black said the project will focus on three primary areas: research, education and outreach.

— Colorado State University