Rocky Mountain Ag Notebook: Wyo., Colo. among the most ‘agribusiness-friendly’ states; Water rights bill passes House | TheFencePost.com

Rocky Mountain Ag Notebook: Wyo., Colo. among the most ‘agribusiness-friendly’ states; Water rights bill passes House

Wyoming, Colorado named top 5 ‘agribusiness-friendly’ states

Wyoming, Colorado, New Hampshire, South Dakota and North Dakota are the top five agribusiness-friendly states in America, according to a new report issued by Colorado State University agricultural economists.

CSU professors Greg Perry and James Pritchett developed the Agribusiness Friendliness Index to describe the economic climate for agriculture, which is impacted by climate, local and state government policies, geography and other factors more than other business sectors.

The index is based on 38 variables, representing regulatory policy, tax policy, government efficiency, impact of key government services, and the overall state business climate. It follows the methodology of other key indexes like the State Business Tax Climate Index.

Perry and Pritchett believe this is the first study of its kind, focusing exclusively on the agricultural sector.

To read the report, or view each state’s indexes, go to abfi.agsci.colostate.edu.

— Colorado State University

Water Rights Bill Passes House

Many hailed the passage of the Water Rights Protection Act (WRPA), H.R. 3189, by the U.S. House of Representatives by a 238 to 174 vote.

Introduced by Congressman Scott Tipton, R-Colo., the legislation reiterates the limits to federal agency jurisdiction of water.

H.R. 3189 comes as a means to combat the Federal Government by way of the United States Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management from seizing water rights in exchange for land use permits, without just compensation. An issue that arose in a USFS directive applicable to ski areas was seen by industry as an issue that could threaten all water users, including ranchers, as they depend on water rights on public and private land to keep their businesses viable.

The legislation will prohibit the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture from requiring the transfer of water rights without adequate and just compensation. Additionally, the bill supports long-established state water laws, clarifying that the federal government does not have jurisdiction.

— National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

Super Ditch Scuttles Pilot Program

The first pilot program under a new state law that would allow temporary water transfers under the supervision of the Colorado Water Conservation Board has been scuttled.

The planned lease of water to Fowler by the Arkansas Valley Super Ditch was pulled from the table last week after farmers who were leasing the water pulled out. It was the first plan introduced under last year’s HB1284, which allows the CWCB to monitor pilot programs that develop alternatives to buy-and-dry water transfers.

“It’s disappointing that we weren’t able to put the program in place,” said Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District. “We need to make sure Fowler survives. The first job of the Super Ditch is to keep small towns viable.”

Fowler uses wells to supply its water, but needs an outside supply to augment those wells. The town has been under water restrictions.

“It appears Fowler will be fine with water this year,” Hyatt said.

— The Pueblo, Colo., Chieftain

UNC Biologists Get USDA Grants To Address Cattle, Potato Issues

University of Northern Colorado researchers were recently awarded multiyear grants totaling more than $645,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

UNC biologists Patrick Burns and Susana “Karen” Gomez are the lead project directors on their grants and will conduct separate research projects focused on improving agriculture.

According to Nate Haas, a spokesman for UNC, Burns was awarded a $495,975 grant through August 2017 for a project to address early pregnancy loss in beef and dairy cattle, a major problem that translates to millions of dollars lost in meat and milk production.

Gomez, who received a $149,930 award through January 2016, is studying three-way interactions involving potatoes, soil fungi and insects. The project outcomes will serve as a foundation to achieve the long-term goals of determining how this ancient symbiosis modulates crop resistance against insects, which could potentially lead to the discovery of genes useful in developing insect-resistant crops.

— University of Northern Colorado

CSU Ag Graduate Programs Earn High Marks From U.S. News & World Report

Colorado State University graduate programs continued to place among the best in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 Best Graduate Schools edition.

Overall, 22 graduate programs at CSU were ranked among the top 100 in the country by U.S. News & World Report, which surveys more than 600 college and universities throughout the country, although rankings for each program are not published annually.

The CSU Professional Veterinary Medicine Program, its vet school, maintained its spot at No. 3 in the nation. It has held a spot among the top three vet schools in the country for at least two decades.

Among others that ranked high, the CSU Biological/Agricultural Engineering graduate program ranked No. 23.

— Colorado State University

Colo. Horse Breeder Sentenced To Prison, Ordered To Pay $900K In Restitution To IRS

A Berthoud, Colo., horse breeder was sentenced to federal prison Tuesday and ordered to pay nearly $900,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service for tax evasion.

Nikitis A. Mangeris, 70, was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge R. Brook Jackson to serve four months in federal prison and two years of home detention following his release, according to a Wednesday news release from the U.S. Department of Justice. Mangeris was also ordered to pay a $1,200 fine and $891,955.28 in restitution to the IRS.

Mangeris was indicted by a federal grand jury Jan. 9, 2013, in Denver, and pleaded guilty to tax evasion Oct. 1, 2013, according to the release.

In the indictment and plea agreement, Mangeris admitted to utilizing Colorado State University’s Equine Reproductive Laboratory to extract and store semen from two Arabian horses for future sales.

Mangeris made on average $2,500-$3,000 per breeding, but failed to disclose the income on federal tax forms.

Mangeris later admitted to falsifying tax forms and lying to a federal revenue officer about his income, assets and living situation.

— The Greeley, Colo., Tribune

R-CALF USA Frustrated With USDA, Requests Remedial Action on Beef Checkoff Program ‘Abuses’

In a firmly worded letter sent yesterday to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, R-CALF USA once again requested that significant changes be made to the Beef Checkoff Program. Many requests in this letter were originally submitted in a letter sent August 4, 2010.

The letter states, “It is beyond any semblance of common sense and impartiality that you would allow the Beef Checkoff Program to continually collect and expend producer contributions – for a period of nearly four years after you had definitively learned that funds were being misspent — while not having any assurance whatsoever that the program was being operated and administered in accordance with U.S. laws and regulations.”

R-CALF USA’s renewed complaint requests that Secretary Vilsack:

1) immediately freeze all Checkoff accounts managed or controlled by National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA);

2) immediately suspend the Checkoff contract between NCBA and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB);

3) immediately conduct a full and complete investigation and audit into NCBA’s fiscal management of Checkoff funds for a period to include at least the past five years (the investigation must go well beyond the small sampling of transactions reviewed in the Accountant’s Report);

4) take any and all action necessary to both redress any violations, non-compliance, and fraud that may be discovered, and reimburse the Checkoff in full for each dollar that may be found to have been misappropriated; and,

5) take action to completely separate the NCBA from the Federation of State Beef Councils.

— R-CALF USA