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Wyoming chalks a win for federal lands grazing

On Tuesday, May 17, a Montana Circuit Court agreed that approval of continued grazing in the Upper Green River area did not violate the Endangered Species Act and ruled that the Fish and Wildlife Service properly took into account possible grizzly bears. The court stated that federal agency documents allowing the grazing were “supported by substantial evidence, and neither arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or inconsistent with law.”

Upper Green River Cattle Association members have grazed the area for over a century and that was jeopardized by a suit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity. Photo courtesy Mountain States Legal Foundation

Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association said the win was significant for livestock producers.

“The Upper Green River Cattle Association and the grazing permits they hold up on the national forest used to be and I believe still is, the largest permit on the national forest in the U.S. in terms of acreage,” Magagna said. “They’ve been grazing up there for well over 100 years. The things they’ve inherited being there are wolves and grizzly bears, in particular grizzly bears were a protected species when the permits came up for renewal.”

At the time of the permit renewal, because grizzlies were protected, the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completed an analysis on the grizzly bear. They concluded that a certain number of the bears could be taken annually either through relocation or permanent removal. This move, he said, would meet the requirements of the grizzly bears as protected species and still allow beneficial grazing on the permit.

The Green River Drift will go on now that a court ruled in favor of the agency that completed a grizzly bear study prior to renewing a grazing permit. Photo courtesy Mountain States Legal Foundation


Magagna said when the report was released, environmental groups appealed the decision.

“The main challenge was that the grizzly bear analysis was inadequate but then they raised some other NEPA issues along with that,” he said. “We along with the Upper Green Cattle Association and a coalition of county commissioners in southwest Wyoming filed an intervention in that suit and have been interveners in it since the beginning.”

The ruling, he said, was entirely in their favor with the judge rejecting all of the challenges the environmental group had brought forward and upheld the USFS and USFWS plan in its entirety.

“That’s a win we don’t see too often,” he said.

There is a 60-day period during which an appeal may be filed with the 10th Circuit Court, though for now it ensures grazing will continue as it has for a century.

Mountain States Legal Foundation Senior Attorney Joseph Bingham said environmentalist groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity want the practice of grazing on federal lands ended. The MSLF represented WYSGA and other interveners in the case.

“The law requires the USFS to provide land for grazing, so they can’t try to stop that directly, so what they do is when the USFS grants a permit to graze, they sue claiming the USFS didn’t comply with the law in the process of granting the permit,” he said.

In this particular case, Center for Biological Diversity v. Haaland, CBD claimed that the USFS did not adequately consider grizzly bear survival because the grazing allotments are located in the greater Yellowstone area.

“Because the grizzly bear population has been such a remarkable recovery success story, there are inevitably conflicts when grizzlies find their way to livestock and kill some, or there could potentially be conflict between the ranching personnel and the grizzlies,” he said.


He said the environmentalists claim that in light of the recovery of the grizzlies there are likely to be conflicts if grazing is allowed, therefore ranchers ought to give up grazing in the areas to allow for an indefinitely expanding grizzly bear territory.

He said a loss in this case would have potentially ended grazing in the Greater Yellowstone area on federal lands. CBD, he said, has utilized the same strategy in other areas with whichever species is available.

“The outcome of this case doesn’t determine the outcome of other cases but every victory like this discourages environmentalists from using the strategy and it encourages the forest service to continue complying with the law by providing for grazing because they can win one against the environmentalists, too,” he said.

The multiple use mandate requires that the USFS provide for grazing by balancing recreational opportunities with productive opportunities and conservation. He said environmentalists would prefer a single use mandate for conservation purposes only.

The presiding judge, the Honorable Nancy D. Freudenthal, is an Obama appointee who has ruled in favor of environmental groups in the past, including Western Watersheds Project, one of the plaintiffs here.

“What the court did here was to defer to the agency, and said the agency did its job considering all of the information,” he said. “It’s important for ranchers and industry groups to work together with agencies to ensure their decisions are based on complete and accurate information.”

WYSGA marks 150th year

In 1872, in the Territory of Wyoming, five men gathered in a livery stable in Cheyenne with the intention of forming a vigilance committee to combat a band of cattle rustlers in the area. The Stock Association of Laramie County was formed, and within a few years it also worked to manage round ups, brand inspections, and the health and sanitation of cattle on the range in addition to dealing with freight rates, fencing and questions of public domain.

Swimming cattle across the Powder River, 1888. Photo courtesy WYSGA

In the 1880s, the association worked to develop the state’s livestock and rangeland laws, and the association was closely involved in the notorious Johnson County War. Wyoming’s Cow-Belles organized in 1940 and the Junior Wyoming Stock Growers in 1954.

“Our spurs” taken in 1903 by F.M. Sherman. Photo courtesy WYSGA

According to the association’s history, the open range system made it difficult for ranchers to watch over cattle but made rustling a relatively easy undertaking. In 1875, Stock Association members began paying dues to fund the hiring of detectives to discourage rustlers. The association approached the Laramie County Commissioners with a request for financial assistance to help pay for the detectives and were granted $150 monthly for two months. In 1877, stock detectives were on the payroll and the job on behalf of the association’s members.

Commemorating 150 years of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association will debut at the association's June meeting in Cheyenne.

Renamed in 1879, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association supervised brand inspectors represented the interests of members in the state legislature. In 1882, the association, now the primary source of protection for the interests and property of cattlemen in Wyoming and surrounding states, persuaded the Territorial Legislature of 1882 to appoint a state veterinarian. The legislature, at the association’s urging, also penned and passed stock laws to prevent the introduction of disease on Wyoming range.


The association, under the presidency of John B. Kendrick, appointed the first historical committee and began collecting historical data and artifacts related to the accomplishments of the association and the development of the cattle industry in the Western U.S. Those artifacts are housed in the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center collection.

Pictured together are Wyoming Govs. Francis E. Warren, Nellie Tayloe Ross, Robert Carey and John B. Kendrick. Photo courtesy WYSGA

The association and it’s members faced blizzards and historically high cattle losses during blizzards in the winter of 1886 and 1887. Many Wyoming ranchers went out of business between the hard winter and the economic depression. This drastically reduced membership in the association and changed the face of the western cattle ranching industry. The WYSGA, though, was able to weather the storm and remain intact and working for its members.

The first pages of the first brand book kept by the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, a group founded originally to combat a cattle rustling band.

According to historical records maintained by the association, in the 1920s the WYSGA was recognized as an official marketing agency under the Packers and Stock Yards Administration. In the 1930s, the association and the Wyoming Wool Growers aligned to address issues facing producers. It was also in 1937 that the association worked to unify brand inspection agencies, livestock exchanges, and independent commission firms to arrive at a uniform system of brand inspection rule enforcement.

A photo from a 1915 round up. Photo courtesy WYSGA, Eunice Small Collection

Members of the WYSGA fought the “Jackson Hole Seizure” which was the creation of Grand Teton National Park. The association worked to encourage the application of principles of the Taylor Grazing Act, which brought orderly use of federal grazing lands that had previously been used in a free-for-all type manner.

From the historical collection, correspondence from W.H. Cody. Courtesy WYSGA

Now, the group works extensively with the U.S. Forest Service, agriculture trade organizations and other groups working together to defend and promote Wyoming ranchers.


In June, the group will convene in Cheyenne for their 150th anniversary. In addition to speakers, committee meetings, a parade, a chuckwagon dinner, and tours, the meeting marks the release of the book titled Commemorating 150 Years of the Wyoming Stockgrower Association. The book includes historical information about the association, photos, and stories of how the association has changed and grown to advocate for producers in Wyoming.

Beef promotion efforts exploded in the 1970s. Pictured here, from a 1971 issue of Cow Country, is Sundance mayor G.W. Popham signing a proclamation designating American Beef Week. Looking on are Mrs. Schelldorf and Mrs. Proctor. Photo courtesy WYSGA.

The 150th celebration will kick off in Cheyenne on June 8 and will wrap up on June 11 after a parade from the Depot to the State Capitol, a proclamation from Gov. Mark Gordon in recognition of the association’s history and future.

EPA, Army to host online Midwest WOTUS roundtable Monday

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army will host a Midwest-focused regional online roundtable on “waters of the United States” on Monday from 3 to 5 p.m. Central time.

The virtual roundtable was organized by the Regenerative Agriculture Foundation and is one of 10 roundtables intended to highlight diverse perspectives and regional experiences on WOTUS implementation, EPA said in a news release.

“Through these engagements, the agencies will hear from participants representing agriculture, conservation groups, developers, drinking water and wastewater managers, environmental organizations, communities with environmental justice concerns, industry, Tribal nations, and state and local governments,” EPA said.

The Biden administration is rewriting what is informally known as the WOTUS rule. The Obama administration wrote the first WOTUS rule, which was then rewritten by the Trump administration. The point of the rewrites is to address conflicting rulings by the Supreme Court on what constitutes waters that are to be regulated by the federal government.

EPA said in an explanation, “The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants from a point source to navigable waters unless otherwise authorized under the act. Navigable waters are defined in the act as ‘the waters of the United States,] including the territorial seas.

“Thus, ‘waters of the United States’ (WOTUS) is a threshold term establishing the geographic scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The term ‘waters of the United States’’is not defined by the act but has been defined by EPA and the Army in regulations since the 1970s and jointly implemented in the agencies’ respective programmatic activities.”

USDA makes commitment to big game conservation in the West

The Agriculture Department will support voluntary conservation of private working lands and migratory big game populations in a pilot project in Wyoming, Agriculture Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Robert Bonnie announced today in Cody, Wyo., at the University of Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park 150th Anniversary Symposium.

The pilot will take a systems approach to voluntary conservation and draw on several USDA programs, including the Grassland Conservation Reserve Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program and the Agricultural Conservation Easements Program, to provide financial and technical assistance for landowners who want to participate, USDA said.

USDA is committing an initial $15 million in investment through EQIP and ACEP for Wyoming, in addition to the rental payments that will go to producers who enroll in Grasslands CRP.

“Using lessons learned from this pilot, USDA seeks to scale up this model across the West as part of President Biden’s commitment to support voluntary, locally led conservation efforts to reach the administration’s national conservation goals,” USDA added.

“Conserving America’s most iconic wildlife and wildlife migration corridors depends on the conservation of private working lands and tribal lands through voluntary, collaborative incentives that reward farmers, ranchers and forest owners for stewardship of their lands,” Bonnie said in a news release.

“Today’s announcement results from consultation with the state of Wyoming and local stakeholders to create new and enhanced opportunities through USDA’s conservation programs to expand our work with farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to conserve wildlife and migration corridors and to keep working lands working.”

“Wyoming leads the nation in our approaches to conserving big game and their movements. We’ve done that with strong landowner partnerships and an acknowledgement that habitat conservation can be done on multi-use landscapes,” said Brian Nesvik, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

“Private landowners provide key habitat for wildlife seen in Yellowstone National Park. Offering voluntary funding opportunities to landowners to maintain this valuable space for wildlife is a recognition of their role in conservation.”

USDA said it participated in extensive engagement and listening sessions with stakeholders throughout Wyoming and developed this pilot in response to their feedback. Those sessions helped guide the project’s concepts and principles: recognition of the large scale of this issue in key landscapes, coordination with state agencies, consistency with state policy and direction and support of existing partnerships wherever possible.


USDA will invest in three conservation areas using these voluntary and incentive-based programs. All are designed to help willing landowners and their partners conserve private lands for the benefit of migratory big game populations:

▪ Agricultural Land Protection — Preventing the conversion of private working lands that provide habitat and other values for migratory big game populations to alternative land uses not compatible with big game migrations. Specifically, this would include preventing actions like residential subdivision, mining and development of commercial wind and solar facilities on private lands. Additional resources will be provided to Wyoming for Agricultural Land Easements through ACEP (ACEP-ALE) for this effort, as well as prioritization of big game conservation through RCPP.

▪ Restoration, Enhancement and Management — Restoring and managing working lands to provide a variety of healthy habitats migrating animals need to meet their life history requirements. Habitat quality can be improved in many ways including but not limited to the control of invasive species, restoration of degraded aspens, removal of encroached woodlands and restoration of wet meadows.

▪ Conservation Leases — Managing working lands in a way that ensures the resiliency of the desired habitat conditions is extremely important to migrating big game as they rely upon healthy lands to meet their diverse seasonal habitat needs. Providing annual financial incentives to landowners through a conservation lease can help encourage the long-term management that results in resiliency.

“This effort builds on USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Working Lands for Wildlife approach, which has enabled more than 8,400 producers across the United States to conserve 12 million acres of prime wildlife habitat since 2010,” USDA said.

“This approach has had ample success in the West, where it has focused on removing invasive weeds and invading conifers, reducing wildfire risk, and protecting wetlands as well as agricultural lands from exurban development. Resulting conservation actions played a key role in the no-list decisions for the greater sage-grouse, bi-state sage-grouse, and New England cottontail as well as the delisting of the Louisiana black bear.”

US Forest Service prescribed fire burns out of control

They were told to evacuate, but the Atencio family couldn’t let the fire take their ranch headquarters.

With buckets and a garden hose, James Atencio and his wife Barbara and sons Matthew and Aaron protected their home, barns, corrals, weanling calves, bulls and more from the flames that leveled a house just behind them and came to within 50 feet of their New Mexico ranch home. Another son, Will, was protecting his own home across the valley.

“It just roared when it came over the top of the mountain. It was deafening. Trees were popping. It was a very hot fire. We felt the noise, we felt the heat from the fire. We thought we were going to catch on fire,” said 73-year-old James, who battled the blaze until 4 a.m., when his son told him to rest. “He said dad, you’d better take a nap. My wife and I sat on the couch for an hour but we couldn’t sleep so we went back out to help.”

Atencio said his cows survived the fire, finding safety in an open meadow that didn’t burn.

One neighbor lost several cows, three pack horses, pack saddles, tack and other saddles, along with a tack room. No big numbers of cattle deaths have been reported. “Most rely on open spaces” such as cleared meadows for their cattle to harbor, he said. “We’re at the end of our grazing season here where there isn’t any tall grass, it’s been grazed by the cattle.”

The Lower Rociada village just before the fire arrived and burned homes and other structures. Courtesy photo

Francisco Sanchez, another rancher in the Las Vegas, N.M., (the “original” Las Vegas) area said two fires are burning through the Sangre De Cristo Mountains (in north central New Mexico, east of Santa Fe.) The first, known as the Hermit’s Peak fire, began as a U.S. Forest Service prescribed burn, which got past containment efforts. Sanchez said it was lit on a “red flag warning” day for fire. It is thought that perhaps a spark from the Hermit’s Peak fire lit the “Calf Canyon” fire that burned through the Atencio ranch. The cause of the Calf Canyon fire is still under investigation. The two fires have merged into one.

Much of the approximately 260,000 acres that have burned is forested, said Sanchez.

“Much of the fire’s growth is in thick, heavy timber and steep, rugged terrain,” said Inciweb, the fire reporting site.


Sanchez and Atencio both say that poor forest management over the years has made it very difficult to gain control over the fire.

“They’ve been blaming these mega fires lately on climate change,” said Sanchez. “Maybe that has a little to do with it but in my opinion it is also caused by poor forest management.”

“The people with private tracts of land who have worked closely with the New Mexico Forestry Department to thin the trees, you can tell when the fire hits those areas, it slows down,” he said. “But there are a lot of places on federal land it just crowned and ran.”

Atencio echoes these concerns. “It’s been a long time coming. We kind of had a feeling it was going to happen eventually but not in the scope it did. It spread every which direction. We’re in an exceptional drought right now,” he said. “Our forest was devastated. We had a beautiful forest behind our meadows and now it’s just sticks, not even branches. Behind us is federal land and what burned with the federal land is our private forest,” he said. “When it got into private land with thinning projects, it was real low key, it wasn’t cresting or anything.”

“As a taxpayer, I want to know, where is the money being utilized? Nothing is being done to manage the forest. We have to be held accountable for our own personal actions. They have to be held accountable, too. It’s devastating.”

Some of Atencio’s cattle graze on the federal Pecos Wilderness, where motorized vehicles aren’t allowed, Atencio said.

“You can hardly walk through parts of the forest, let alone horses and cattle — they can’t get through some of it. It’s dead and downed trees. It will be devastating if we get a fire in the wilderness,” he said.

Atencio has photographs dating back to 1875, when the forest was harvested and much healthier, he said.


“Right behind where the hills are, you can see a tree here and there because people used the wood for firewood, railroad ties. The forest was harvested. All these tree huggers, now there are no trees to hug. You can give them credit for this. It burned through the national forest and then came to our private land and it burned our homes.”

Atencio said several lumber mills now sit idle in the area due to lawsuits filed by anti-logging groups.

The Atencio cattle and other cattle in the area graze on federal and private land. Some graze in the wilderness area for about three months, within the forest itself and also on high mountain meadows.

The grazing association, including the Atencio family, met with the U.S. Forest Service on May 13. So far, they will still be allowed to graze their cattle on their allotments that have not yet burned, beginning June 15, but if a devastating burn goes through their grazing areas, it could be two to three years before they are able to graze there. “That will put us out of business,” said Atencio. He said others would be forced to sell their cows, too, if they lose the ability to graze the federal land in the area.

FEMA is in the area, taking applications to help those with significant personal losses. “But we won’t know until later if it comes through,” Atencio said. They don’t know if they will be compensated for lost hay, grass, or other feed.

Due to drought conditions, Atencio and other ranchers have reduced their herd sizes. “The drought has devastated us. We don’t have the feed. I usually put up about 2,500 to 3,000 bales but this last year I put up about 250.”

Atencio appreciates Sanchez and Dr. Ashley Sanchez, DVM, (Cisco’s wife) for working with veterinarian organizations to secure donations for hay to help ranchers whose feed reserves were reduced to ashes. Local feed stores have also donated livestock feed as well as dog and cat food, Atencio said.

Strong winds and low humidity continue to push the fire onward, but forecasted lower winds may give crews a chance to rein it in soon, said Sanchez.

“This is fixing to be the biggest forest fire in New Mexico history,” said Atencio.


If you would like to contribute hay, feed or provide financial assistance, please contact the New Mexico Livestock Board.

April Riggs — (575) 643-6162, april.riggs@state.nm.us — Area 2 supervisor-Regional Operations Manager for northeast New Mexico.

Matthew Romero – (575) 643-6805 — District 18 supervisor.

Jose Miera — (505) 203-9267 — District 18 inspector.

Inflation and money

A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore. – Yogi Berra

Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man. – Ronald Reagan

Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon in the sense that it is and can be produced only by a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output. – Milton Friedman

The four most expensive words in the English language are, “This time it’s different.” – John Templeton

Overall consumer prices in April were 8.3% higher than a year ago, the federal government announced yesterday, May 15. This is a slight tick down from March’s peak, so far, of 8.5%, but still part of a dramatic rise in consumer prices that began a year ago. The March inflation figure is the highest rate since the painful conquest of inflation in 1981-82. So-called “core inflation,” (which doesn’t count the more volatile energy and food prices), was 6.2%, also a slight tick down from March; until recently this figure had not gone above 3% in 25 years. This doesn’t mean that a quick end to inflation is at hand. It does mean that the battle to beat it has finally begun; but inflation is almost certain to stay above 5% or 6% for the next couple of years.

So what’s going on? Why is this happening? It’s not being caused by giant corporations; and massive government spending had some impact, but that can be easily overstated.

International turmoil has driven up the price of certain things, including fertilizer and fuel; and this is having a terrible impact on farmers, particularly. However, that isn’t driving overall price inflation in the U.S., either.

Quite simply, too much money was created by the Federal Reserve Bank (often called “the Fed”), mostly in 2020, and it is turning, inevitably, into inflation. Thankfully, the Fed has begun taking steps to address this. The market may once again be reassured that it will be controlled, but it will likely take a few years to approach their long-term target of 2% per year.


In October, we explained that the COVID-19 pandemic had tilted consumer demand from in-person experiences (like meals, shows, and ballgames) – to physical “stuff” to be enjoyed at home, and we said that our current price inflation was driven substantially by supply chain issues, particularly a shortage of shipping, rail, and trucking capacity to meet this growing demand for ‘stuff’. These transportation bottlenecks continue, but by now it is clear that they are part of the general limits on how fast the economy can grow, held back by limited labor availability and the slow and cautious recovery of food service and live entertainment.

And yet, the economy has recovered to the point that it is nearly back on the pre-pandemic trend.

This economic recovery has been strong enough that we can only conclude that short supply of overall production can’t explain high prices anymore, and that we were overestimating its contribution to inflation in October. Market disruptions to fuel and food have goosed inflation in recent months. However, the much larger reasons for current overall inflation, and those that will persist in the coming years, are the unprecedented actions of the Fed since March 2020 and the resulting growth in the money supply, something to which very few people were really paying attention last October.


In the words of Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Jerome Powell, the Fed controls the rate of inflation through three “blunt tools”: 1) raising and lowering the interest rates it charges other banks for money, 2) buying and selling assets on the open market, and 3) signaling its future intentions to the market. Let’s look at how and what they’ve been doing.

First, the Fed lowered interest rates by 1½% in March 2020, from about 1½% to just above 0%, effectively lowering other banks’ cost of borrowing to nothing. This increased banks’ borrowing of money the Fed created. (See Figure 2.)

Second, since the beginning of March 2020 the Fed bought nearly $6 trillion in assets (mostly bonds and other long-term securities) with money they created (and which added to the money supply). This includes $3 trillion in just the four months beginning March 2020. These purchases by the Fed were intended to put more money into the economy.

The “M2” version of the money supply, shown below, is the most common measure of the amount of money in the U.S. economy and includes cash in circulation, checking and savings accounts, and other readily available personal accounts.

The Fed’s actions drove a $6.4 trillion increase in the M2 money supply between March 2020 and the end of 2021. This was a massive and unprecedented 42% increase in only 22 months, far more than could be absorbed by economic growth, even with the strong recovery we have had.

Finally, the last of those three blunt tools is the Fed’s forward guidance, including their explanation of how they see the current situation. After initially insisting that inflation was ‘transitory’ and due to supply chain issues, the Fed’s leadership has finally acknowledged that it is persistent. They have also acknowledged their responsibility to control this inflation and that they will use the tools that drive the money supply to return inflation to the target rate of 2% (though they do so without mentioning the money supply directly).

The job of the Fed is to manage the money supply to promote 1) price stability and 2) maximum employment. For four decades, the Fed has focused on price stability, which has provided a stable environment to support the growth and employment. During the pandemic, they focused on short-term support for the second goal with little focus on the first, through that massive money supply expansion.

This was supposed to stimulate demand. But was that stimulus needed? Or even helpful?

The Fed’s monetary stimulus was done on top of enormous new federal spending commitments – Congress increased its spending commitment for pandemic relief and economic stimulus by about the same $6 trillion amount between March 2020 and late 2021. This spending (most of it bipartisan) included much needed relief for those affected and overdue infrastructure investments, as well as pure stimulus spending, such as the roughly $11,400 sent to an average family of four, regardless of job status. Note that the infrastructure investments are critical to continued growth in the general and farm economies, regardless of the pandemic.

This combination of stimulus-related spending and the Fed’s money creation was almost certainly an overstimulation of the economy. Consider that the stimulus spending in response to the 2008-2009 recession was less than $900 billion, including both relief and infrastructure investments. In addition, the 2008-2009 recession was a demand-based recession, while the COVID recession was about the temporary cutting off of the supply for many in-person services. There was a lot of disposable income, including enhanced unemployment benefits to most of those put out of work, substantial government support for businesses who kept people on payroll, and the regular paychecks of the vast majority of the workforce. (See Figure 1.) This ensured that personal incomes and overall demand didn’t flag; so there was little reason for the Fed to pursue demand stimulus through such a loose money policy.

Another indication of the overstimulation of the economy is the record job openings data, a rough indication of the excess demand in the economy that can’t be met by the available workforce. (See Figure 5.)

So, arguably, the Fed’s monetary stimulus was an overdose of the wrong prescription.

Since the Federal Reserve Bank is an independent central bank, operating independently of the executive and legislative branches, it has no obligation to finance government spending. That is, it was in no way obliged to match government spending with money creation.

What happens when the money supply is pumped up too much? Such a massive injection of money into the economy has to work itself out, mainly through 1) an increase in the economy (which needs more money roughly in proportion to its growth), 2) an increase in the demand for money as a held asset and 3) an increase in prices, i.e., price inflation, over two to three years. (For more detail on this analysis see Greenwood and Hanke at https://ideas.repec.org/p/ris/jhisae/0198.html).

This leaves excess money equal to about 30% of the money supply. This will have to work its way through the economy in the next few years in some combination of inflation, which will happen, and contraction of the money supply, which the Fed is unlikely to do. That means, unfortunately, that it would not be unreasonable to expect two to three more years of inflation in the 6% to 8% range, far above the Fed’s long-run inflation target of 2% per year.


It may not be too early to call this ‘runaway inflation,’ because there is a lot of inflation still to come, and because it is so critical that we recognize what a dangerous phenomenon inflation is, and how important it is to long-term economic growth that we stop it. The last time inflation was this high, the U.S. economy was suffering its second economic recession in three years as the Federal Reserve Bank finally reined in the inflation that had galloped through the 1970s. (See Figure 6.) Those of us who remember those days recall inflation was massively disruptive to the economy, making prices uncertain, eroding incomes, devaluing savings, and building destructive expectations of continued inflation into interest rates, leading to 30-year mortgage rates near 20%. (See Figure 7.) It helped to define a generation and was particularly painful for farmers, who were put on a treadmill of rising crop and land prices in the 1970s, only to be stuck with high-interest debt when the treadmill ground to a halt.

Perhaps the best thing that came out of that era (other than roller disco and Star Wars) were the lessons about managing monetary policy. The 1960s belief that inflation would always support economic growth was wiped away as “stagflation” – a combination of high inflation, high unemployment, and stagnant demand – made 1970s headlines. By the 1980s, it had become an accepted economic principle that putting money into the economy faster than the economy can absorb it will cause inflation, and that continuing to do so was dangerous to the economy. The cure – slowing the growth in the money supply – was applied by then-Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker, based on the monetarist principles laid out by Milton Friedman. This was painful to the whole economy and particularly to farmers; but it was necessary to establish the stable monetary environment that has supported continued economic growth over the last four decades. In fact, it took years for financial markets to be assured that inflation was not around the corner and to reduce long-term interest rates to the levels we have enjoyed until recently.

By ignoring these lessons of our monetary history, the Fed has led us to repeat it. A reasonable stated intent of making Fed policy more amenable to high employment and wage growth seemed, during the response to the COVID recession, to turn into a belief that a free lunch could be had from monetary expansion.

So perhaps once again, we can find this inflationary episode’s silver lining in the rediscovery of how monetary tools work and, more importantly, how they don’t work. And we look for the Fed to renew its focus on price stability and to exercise due restraint in the future. The Fed’s actions and statements last week – including a half percentage increase in their lending rate, their pledge to sell off up to a trillion dollars in bonds and securities over the next year, and their statements supporting further action in the coming months – are all encouraging, in this respect.

In the meantime, farmers, ranchers and consumers will face the pitfalls of inflation until time and more sober policy can return us to price stability.

Rodeo couple exhibits trick riding and roping, gun spinning at Buffalo Bill Rodeo

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. — A pair of western entertainers will hit the “stage” at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte next month.

In the tradition of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Rider Kiesner and his partner Bethany Iles entertain with trick riding, trick roping and gun slinging.

It’s an exhibition of the Western arts, heralding back to the old west days of Annie Oakley, the Will Rogers Follies, and the glory days of TV, when westerns were king.

Kiesner and Iles are well-known for their work. Kiesner has performed at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, pro rodeo’s world championship, seven times, and has done his act in all 50 states and 15 countries. He’s performed at Cavalia, and last year, he and Iles did their act at a NASCAR show in front of 130,000 fans.

Their act is all western: Kiesner trick ropes and does gun spinning tricks, standing on a specially designed platform on his truck, doing such rope tricks as the butterfly, the wedding ring (with 70 feet of rope) and the Texas skip. Iles rides around the arena, doing dangerous yet beautiful trick riding stunts like the suicide drag, the shoulder stand, the liberty stand, the full fender drag, the stroud layout, and one of her newest, the cartwheel vault.


He’s no stranger to the art of western talent. When he was 9 years old, he got a Will Rogers trick roping kit for Christmas and taught himself to rope. His entire family, including younger brother Roper and parents Philip and Julie, took their show on the road. When Rider turned 18, he got his PRCA card and began his solo career.

World champion trick roper Rider Kiesner will entertain with his brand of fancy trick roping and fire. The Oklahoma cowboy has been a showman and entertainer for more than 20 years. Photo by Jackie Jensen

Iles grew up with a mother who was terrified of horses, but when Iles saw trick riding, she and her twin sister knew that’s what they wanted to do.

“My mom, being a good mom, signed us up to take riding lessons, and within a month, we had three head of horses,” Iles said. The sisters made their own trick riding equipment and hung off horses, “which is totally not safe,” she laughed. Their riding instructor hosted a trick riding clinic, which the girls attended, “and a year later, we had learned enough to do local shows,” Iles said.

The two of them paired up in 2018 and have performed at rodeos across the nation. Kiesner is a four-time world champion trick roper and a two-time world champion gun spinner, and the couple is the 2020 PRCA Specialty Act of the Year.

They will entertain during each night of the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte June 15-18. Performances begin at 8 p.m. nightly. Tickets are on sale at NebraskalandDays.com and at the gate and range in price from $10-$23.

For more information, visit the website or call the office at (308) 532-7939.

Agsplosion brings agriculture to local students

More than 700 elementary students from western Nebraska got a hands-on education recently about Nebraska agriculture during the Agsplosion event that was held in five different locations in the Panhandle.

The young learners spent the day rotating through eight stations about a variety of agriculture commodities that were presented by Nebraska Extension educators and assistants. The students learned about the livestock and crops that are raised and grown in the Panhandle as well as across the state. Some of what the students learned include:

Swine: The basics of the swine life cycle and production, and how pigs are raised to produce safe, quality meat for consumers.

Corn: How the No. 1 crop produced in Nebraska is planted and grown. They also learned about the three main types of corn produced in the state, and products from corn, such as popcorn and ethanol.

Wheat: How winter wheat is grown and harvested in the Panhandle. They also learned how wheat is ground up to make flour, and the difference between whole wheat and white flour. Students were able to grind their own flour using pestle and mortar sets.

Potatoes: How potatoes go from farm to factory. Students learned how the nutritional value depends on how potatoes are cooked, and that 85 percent of the potatoes grown in Nebraska are made into Lay’s potato chips.

Beans: The importance of Nebraska soybeans in central and eastern Nebraska and dry edible beans in western Nebraska. Both crops are sold within the U.S. and internationally for human consumption, and how soybeans are also an important component of animal feed rations.

Beef: Students learned they get more than meat from beef animals and realized how many beef byproducts they use every day such as toothpaste and toothbrush, shampoo, tires, and combs.

Dairy: The process of milk production from farm to refrigerator. Students also made and tasted homemade butter.

Ag Technology: Students explored how technology allows farmers to grow lots of crops efficiently. They worked in teams to plant by hand to experience the difference.

“AgSplosion is a great way for youth to explore Nebraska’s No. 1 economy in a fun, hands-on setting. The Extension staff works together to create lessons that engage youth while exposing them to the vast products that originate not only in the Panhandle but across the state,” said Sarah Paisley, Nebraska Extension, 4-H Youth Development Educator. “Teachers appreciate that we connect the lessons to what they are teaching in school and how they apply directly to the world in which they live and the food they eat.”

Sponsors and other supporters provided financial support, use of facilities, farm equipment and live animals for the events. They include Nebraska Corn Board; Nebraska Wheat Board; Farm Bureau; Prairie Winds Community Center at Bridgeport; Walther Farms; Oshkosh Heifer Development; Big Red Popcorn; Box Butte Ag Society; Cheyenne County Fairgrounds; and Dawes County Ag Society.

Rob-See-Co announces acquisition of Rupp Seeds grain and forage division

ELKHORN, Neb. — Rob-See-Co, an independent seed company located in Elkhorn, Neb., acquired the Rupp-brand grain and forage division of Rupp Seeds, an Ohio-based seed company. The acquisition enables Rob-See-Co to expand its market and product offering to Rupp Seeds dealers and growers.

“We are excited to welcome the Rupp Seeds team to our Rob-See-Co family,” said Rob Robinson, Rob-See-Co CEO. “Rob-See-Co and Rupp Seeds share the culture of a family-owned company. Both companies offer a simple, transparent business model and value the customer relationship. Given the similarities between the two companies, we see a mutually beneficial relationship.”

Given there is no overlap with existing dealers, Rob-See-Co anticipates it will work with 100% of Rupp Seeds’ dealers and will continue to sell Rupp corn, soybean, and wheat branded products through the 2022 growing season. In 2023, the company plans to expand its offering to Rupp dealers to include Rob-See-Co and Innotech brand corn and soybeans, Masters Choice specialty silage, and Streamline Ag seed-driven crop inputs. The company will operate out of Rob-See-Co’s headquarters in Elkhorn. The Rupp family will continue to offer their vegetable seeds and other crops under the Rupp Seeds brand, operating out of their Wauseon, Ohio, offices.

Customers will benefit from an expanded product selection. Rupp Seeds customers and dealers will gain the efficiencies of Rob-See-Co’s operations, including broad germplasm and trait access, and improved testing and characterization. Rob-See-Co will benefit from an expanded footprint and access to additional trait and germplasm platforms. All customers will continue working with their respective Rupp Seeds and Rob-See-Co representatives, as there is no overlap in sales territories.

“We’re excited for the opportunities our customers and dealers will experience with this transition into Rob-See-Co through dealer development and broader access to world-class genetics and traits,” said Phil Rupp, Rupp Seeds president. “Since 1946, Rupp Seeds has been a trusted partner for dealers and growers in Ohio and Michigan. We’re proud of the legacy we’ve created and excited to see what the future holds in this next chapter with Rob-See-Co.”

“Our two organizations bring together strengths and expertise which expands Rob-See-Co’s capabilities,” said Jim Robinson, chief technology officer at Rob-See-Co. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to expand our offerings, and to be able to share that with our growers.”

To learn more about Rob-See-Co, visit www.robseeco.com.

Forage minute


Cattle producers needing forage may be considering harvesting small grains such as wheat, rye, triticale and oats as hay or silage. When deciding timing and method of harvest, begin with the end in mind; realizing that normally spring windrow drying can be a challenge. For young growing cattle, small grain hay should be cut in the boot stage or as soon as possible following heading to ensure higher protein and energy content. Awnless (beardless) varieties are preferred if harvest is delayed past the full heading stage. Mature cow and feedlot managers may consider delaying their forage harvest until the hard dough development stage to increase forage quantity, since these cattle can utilize lower quality forage than younger beef animals.

In Nebraska Extension forage harvest studies, wheat and rye yields almost double by delaying spring harvest just one month. Compared to early May (boot stage) harvest, early June (soft dough growth stage development) irrigation biomass yields on average increase from 12 tons per acre to 20 tons per acre. However, the trade-off for delaying forage harvest is that forage crude protein content decreases from 18% at the boot stage to 10% crude protein at the dough kernel grain stage. Another downside to delayed small grain forage harvest is shortening the growing season for double-crop annual forages planting such as corn or sudangrass for fall silage.

When small grains are chopped for silage (wheatlage or ryelage), there may be opportunity for adding a week onto the subsequent annual crop growing season. If silage is your small grain harvest choice, moisture content is critical; and the target moisture content for successful ensiling is 70-72% for proper packing. Generally, small grains have a 76-78% moisture content during the soft-dough grain stage with the moisture dropping 5% during the harvest process.


Did you have musk thistles last year? If so, I’m sure you’ll have them again this spring. And even through you may have done some herbicide control last fall, there are always those that may have been missed.

While corn and soybean planting are a top priority for many, this is also a very good time to control musk thistles. And I’ll also bet that you can get into your pastures to spray at least one or two days sooner than you can get into row crop fields to plant.

The current short rosette growth form in the spring is the ideal stage for controlling these plants. That means spray herbicides soon, while your musk thistle plants still are in that rosette form, and very few plants will live to send up flowering stalks.

Several herbicides are effective and recommended for musk thistle control. Some popular herbicides include Milestone, Graslan L, and Tordon 22K. These herbicides will help control other difficult weeds like common mullein as well.

Other herbicides that can control musk thistles in pastures this spring include Chaparral/Oversight, Cimarron, Telar, Transline, Redeem R&P, and Curtail. A tank mix of dicamba and 2,4-D also works very well. No matter which weed killer you use, though, be sure to read and follow label instructions, and be especially sure to spray on time.

All these herbicides will work for you this spring if you spray soon, before musk thistles bolt and send up their flowering stalks. After flowering, though, the shovel is about the only method remaining to control thistles this year.


Fertilizing warm-season grass is a practice some producers do, but one should consider forage needs, the value of the forage and fertilizer costs.

Warm-season grasses are very efficient at using water and nutrients. Where moisture is present, warm-season grasses will grow rapidly when air and soil temperatures increase. With fertilizer, growth will be more abundant resulting in more hay or grazing days. Mid-May to early-June is the window to fertilize.

How much fertilizer to apply depends on each operation. First, consider whether or not fertilizing is worth the cost. If extra growth won’t get grazed or extra hay won’t get fed, then fertilizing won’t be economical.

Knowing what species will be fertilized can also help with the decision. Taller growing warm-season grasses such as switchgrass, big bluestem, and indiangrass will be the most efficient with the fertilizer. Shorter warm-season grasses such as sideoats grama and little bluestem will respond less.

Moisture is the last key consideration. In eastern Nebraska, in a year with average or above average moisture, a rate of 50 to 60 pounds of nitrogen per acre will have a great response. In a drier year, the response will be lower/less. For central and western Nebraska, 40 pounds of nitrogen on subirrigated meadows will do well. Outside of subirrigated meadows, nitrogen may not pay off unless there is adequate moisture. Without moisture, the response may not be worth the cost.

Fertilizing warm-season grasses may be a benefit to an operation if done soon. Hay yield or grazing days may increase if managed well with fertilizer.