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Thornton to leave Farm Bureau for Soybean Board

The United Soybean Board in Chesterfield, Mo., has hired Mace Thornton, executive director of communications at the American Farm Bureau Federation, as the soybean board’s vice president of communications and marketing.

Thornton has worked for Farm Bureau for 34 years, with five years at the Kansas Farm Bureau and 29 at Farm Bureau headquarters in Washington. He will leave Farm Bureau on June 7 and begin his work at USB on June 10. In a note to the Farm Bureau staff, Dale Moore, the Farm Bureau executive vice president, noted that Thornton had recently overseen the Farm Town Strong rural opioid campaign, an effort that earned the Silver Anvil recognition from the Public Relations Society of America. That initiative was a unified effort of Farm Bureau and the National Farmers Union. Moore also noted that Thornton will be inducted into the Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame for career achievement by the Agricultural Relations Council.

Representing Colorado’s produce growers

Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Board Member Bruce Talbott, Talbott’s Mountain Gold, Palisade, met recently in Washington, D.C., as a member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fruit & Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee. Also on the advisory committee is Tom Lipetzky, Colorado Department of Agriculture. The committee is to act as a sounding board for the USDA to determine the effectiveness of their programs and to identify needs that are not being met. When Talbott was appointed last fall, he said he hoped to work through the committee to develop a better farm labor program that is “much less bureaucratic than the current H2A program and that treats both the employer and the employee very well and ultimately results in a safe and secure food supply continuing to be produced inside the United States.”

Diamond V adds dairy expert to serve western Iowa, eastern Neb.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Diamond V continues to expand, with Kari Leonard joining the company’s Midwest Team as a regional sales manager. She brings dairy wellness knowledge to the position, especially in the areas of biosecurity, genomics, milk quality and transition. “I’m excited to have Kari on the team,” said Diamond V District Sales Manager Mitch Deimund. “In this role, she will work closely with our technical experts to support producers, nutritionists, veterinarians, and feed production professionals.” Leonard was raised on a registered Simmental farm in west central Iowa. She has a bachlor’s degree in public service and administration from Iowa State University. After completing her studies in 1991, she joined The Upjohn Co. in northwest Iowa. Since then, she’s transitioned through several company mergers including Pharmacia, Pfizer Animal Health and Zoetis covering Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska. She is based in Holstein, Iowa, and can be reached at kari_leonard@diamondv.com.

Little to leave Roberts for NAMI

Sarah Little, communications director in the personal office of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., will leave to become the vice president of communications at the North American Meat Institute. Roberts announced Little’s departure and the promotion of two staff members. Little confirmed that she would join NAMI. In a news release, Roberts noted that “Sarah started on my staff as an intern from Prairie Village, Kan., 20 years ago” and had “worked hard on behalf of Kansas and the nation, especially following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and most recently for America’s farmers and ranchers.” Stacey Daniels, Roberts’ press secretary, will be promoted to communications director in the personal office. Daniels previously worked in the House of Representatives as a communications director. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and worked as a television reporter in Columbia, Mo., and Eugene, Ore. Meghan Cline, the Republican press secretary on the Senate Agriculture Committee for the past four years, has been promoted to communications director for the committee. Previously, she served as assistant director of communications for the National Pork Producers Council. Cline was born and raised in Dalton, Ga., and earned bachelor’s and master of science degrees in agricultural communications from the University of Georgia and Oklahoma State University, respectively. ❖

In memorial

I know many people are taking advantage of the Memorial Day weekend as three days of fun, camping, fishing, hiking, barbequing, shopping for Memorial Day bargains or just taking it easy.

But I hope everyone will remember the reason for Memorial Day and keep in mind the many people who have fought and died for us so that we can have this three-day weekend.

I remember many Memorial Day services back in North Dakota. We used to gather at a country church that was so small many of us had to sit outside, where we listened to the service through the church public address system.

The church graveyard was decorated with American flags placed on the graves of those who died in service of the U.S. military.

After the church ceremony, we would all gather outside where members of the American Legion would fire a 21-gun salute, followed by a moment of silence and then Taps would be played. Then we all left the church in hushed silence.

On Memorial Day many of us would also visit the graves of our loved ones who didn’t serve in the military but who are still loved and missed.

Even if you don’t attend a church or military service, do take a moment to remember.

The “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution, which was passed on December 2000, asks that at 3 p.m. local time all Americans “… voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.’ ” ❖

Lewis’ bill protects private property

Rep. Kimmi Lewis has long been heralded as a defender of private property rights and the signing of her HB19-1078 into law was in the defense of those rights.

Lewis said multiple landowners, including herself, in southeastern Colorado learned in January of 2015 their property was to be included on the National Registry of Historic Places as a Multiple Property Documentation Form (MPDF) as a study area, without their knowledge or consent. The properties were submitted by Colorado Preservation Inc., and the landowners had about three days to stop the inclusion.

Representatives for the landowners contacted the keeper of the National Registry of Historic Places in Washington, D.C., who assured them the sites could not be included without the knowledge of the landowner, though Lewis said that was the case. Meetings followed during the spring of 2015 though Colorado Preservation Inc., did not attend meetings in Branson or La Junta, following an invitation.

“Ultimately, we sent demand letters from the landowners to Colorado Preservation, Inc., and some to History Colorado, who oversees the whole project,” Lewis said. “Colorado Preservation, Inc., had received a grant to come down here and do a lot of this research on these homesteads down here and they led people to believe they were going to stop the Army from taking their land if they would let them come on their land and take all these photographs and record all these homesteads.”

THE PINK MAP

Despite the objections of landowners, property was included on what Lewis calls the Pink Map, an area south of La Junta to New Mexico, west to Trinidad and east to Kim along Highway 109, basically the same area included in the failed Heritage Area that landowners fought and defeated years earlier.

“I felt like the way to solve some of the problems with them stepping on private property rights is to require a signature,” she said. “It ought to be an honor to have your property, historic building, or home on the National Register of Historic Places, but no group ought to be allowed to put your property on there without your knowledge.”

Lewis’ bill, also sponsored by Senate President Leroy Garcia and Sen. Vicki Marble, focuses on the MPDF submitted first to the Colorado Historic Preservation Review Board and, upon the board’s approval, on to the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places. The intent of the bill, now law, is to require each landowner’s consent, for all lands included within the area described or included within a MPDF, before a MPDF may be approved by the board.

The House of Representatives passed HB19-1078 on Feb. 22, 2019, introduced in the Senate on Feb. 25, passed the Senate on March 20, and was signed into law by Governor Jared Polis on April 12, 2019.​ ❖

— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at rgabel@thefencepost.com or (970) 392-4410.

Rural America on wrong side of the digital divide

Take a drive through Hamilton County, Kan., population 2,500, and you know you are in the heart of rural America. Hamilton County has an abundance of many things — wheat, sorghum and dairy, for starters — but broadband isn’t one of them.

And that’s a scary prospect when participation in the modern economy simply demands good internet service.

Policymakers, trade associations and private companies know this digital divide is a real problem and have supported commendable efforts to close the gap. But there’s a catch for communities like Hamilton County. The county isn’t eligible for public funds to support broadband deployment and could be missed by private investment, too, because, according to the Federal Communications Commission, 100 percent of the county’s population has access to broadband internet.

That’s news to most residents of Hamilton. In a recent report based on consumer usage data, Microsoft found that only 3.9 percent of Hamilton County residents, in fact, access the internet at broadband speed. My personal experience tells me Microsoft’s numbers are much closer to reality.

Republicans and Democrats agree that bridging the digital divide is crucial to America’s economic future, but we won’t get there unless we first know where the gaps are. The truth is the many public and private sector efforts to tackle this problem will suffer until we get a more accurate picture of which Americans remain on the wrong side of the rural broadband gap.

Each year, the FCC releases a “Broadband Deployment Report” that aims to show where broadband access exists, where it doesn’t, how many people have broadband access and how many people don’t.

Federal officials use this report and a corresponding map to guide nearly every rural broadband deployment effort in the country. Even so, both sides of the aisle agree that these reports overstate broadband availability in rural areas.

The consequences of inaccurate broadband data can be enormous for rural communities. For example, the FCC’s reports are used to allocate billions of dollars in federal funding for loans and grants that support rural broadband deployment. Inaccurate data can lead to duplicative efforts in some communities and cause others to remain locked behind the digital divide.

Action to fix this flawed system should start with a document called “Form 477,” which is a survey sent to internet service providers (ISPs) each year to determine where they are offering broadband access. The data is aggregated by census blocks, and providers are asked if they “do” or “could” serve just one home or business inside of that geographic area. If the answer is yes, then everyone inside that given census block is effectively counted as having access to broadband.

In rural areas, census blocks can cover expansive geographic areas, but just a few hundred yards can make the difference between having broadband access and being left behind. There are more than 3,200 census blocks across the country that are larger than the District of Columbia, and five that are larger than Connecticut. Census blocks larger than two square miles comprise more than 64 percent of the U.S. land area, which means that every rural area is impacted by this problem in some way. Furthermore, just because a provider believes it could serve a census block, it doesn’t mean it is providing service there.

Clearly, this is a flawed means of measuring the digital divide. The reports so clearly overstate broadband coverage that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue recently described them as “fake news.”

Hamilton County and the countless other rural areas that the FCC claims to have universal broadband access are counting on action. ❖

— Duvall is the President of the American Farm Bureau Federation and a third-generation farmer from Georgia.

Expanded beef access to Japan could increase US exports by $200M

Japan has lifted age restrictions on beef exported by the United States and Canada in what Kent Bacus calls a ringing endorsement of the safety and quality of the U.S. beef production system.

Bacus, the director of international trade for the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, said much emphasis has been placed on mitigating the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) risk, leading to one of safest designations in the world from the World Organization for Animal Health. Japan closed its door completely to U.S. beef in 2003 amid BSE concerns before opening access with age restrictions in 2005.

The USDA estimates this expanded access could increase U.S. beef and beef product imports to Japan by up to $200 million annually. The agreement is also an important step in normalizing trade with Japan, as Japan further aligns its import requirements with international standards for BSE.

The USDA’s estimate could be conservative, Bacus said, given the demand in Japan for U.S. beef cuts including tongues and short plate.

“Anytime we have more available supply we can sell to a strong customer like Japan, that’s going to benefit the entire supply chain,” he said.

Remaining competitive in the face of the current 38.5 percent tariff on U.S. beef is still the challenge facing both countries, a challenge that Bacus said can be overcome through a bilateral trade agreement.

“That’s something we have asked the Trump administration to prioritize and they certainly have responded,” he said. “We know the trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, has made this a priority and his team has been working with Japan to find a way forward.”

Bacus said tariffs receive a tremendous amount of attention but it is actually the non-tariff trade barriers that tell the story, tending to be a greater restriction than tariffs. Though most U.S. cattle are slaughtered before they reach 30 months of age, the removal of the non-science-based trade barrier is an endorsement of the quality and safety of U.S. beef, something Bacus said he will celebrate. He said he hopes the momentum will continue to include countries like China, Taiwan, Korea, and the Philippines, allowing them to enjoy U.S. beef without unjustified restrictions and trade barriers.

CULL COW MARKET

Joe Schuele, vice president, communications for the U.S. Meat Export Federation, said while about 80 percent of U.S. beef is from fed cattle, the lifting of the age restrictions could strengthen the cull cow market.

“Japan is such a large market that even though it will be a relatively small percentage of our total exports to Japan, it’s still a pretty good bump in exports,” Schuele said. “We did about $2 billion in exports to Japan last year, we think this will add another $150 to 200 million. That may not sound like a big increase but $200 million is about the amount of beef we export to Europe in a year, about the amount we export to the Middle East in a year.”

Schuele anticipates added value in cuts including tongues, tripe, some muscle cuts and middle meats, shoulder clods, and briskets as more barbecue cuts are marketed to Japanese consumers and interest in steaks grows. Japan is the dominant market for tongues, with the ability to ship tongues to Japan adding about $12 per head.

“It’s a little more difficult to differentiate those,” he said. “Our beef from fed cattle is a rather unique product, it’s high in marbling, a lot of intramuscular fat. The beef from older cattle will be a bit more like beef from older cattle from, say, Australia or New Zealand, but we do think there’s pretty strong interest among Japanese consumers for it.”

Schuele calls this a significant step to putting BSE in the rearview mirror as far as international trade is concerned, allowing the U.S. to market beef based on taste and quality rather than concentrating on safety alone.

Korea, he said, has been a model of what red meat consumption can look like when consumers are not saddled with high tariffs. Red meat consumption has grown, he said, in Korea as the country has come to trade agreements not only with the U.S. but with other red meat suppliers. He said the same scenario will play out with Japan but the U.S. is currently the only red meat supplier on the outside, looking in that has not received tariff relief. Canada, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand are all beef-supplying countries who have received tariff relief. In pork, Canada, Europe and Chile are the main suppliers, all of whom have gained tariff relief.

“We really need to get on a level playing field with these other red meat suppliers to capitalize on what we anticipate will be a pretty strong surge in red meat consumption in Japan once consumer prices don’t have to include those high tariffs,” he said. ❖

— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at rgabel@thefencepost.com or (970) 392-4410.

Ashley Doolittle’slegacy

The statistics are gut-wrenching:

• One in three U.S. teens ages 14-20 have been victims of dating violence. Young women in this age group are at a three-times greater risk than are any other demographic.

• Annually, 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner.

• Violent behavior often begins between sixth and 12th grades (ages 12-18).

• Women ages 16-24 experience the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence.

• Each year an estimated 1,200 deaths due to relationship violence occur — that’s more than three per day.

The facts and figures are eye-opening. But how can such grim outcomes be deterred? Knowledge affects change.

• 82 percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue but 58 percent were unable to correctly identify all its warning signs.

• Three in four parents have never talked to their children about domestic violence.

• It takes a victim an average of seven attempts to leave an abusive relationship before the separation becomes final.

• Leaving an abusive partner may be the most dangerous time in the relationship; women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the weeks after leaving their abusive partner than at any other time during the relationship.

All of the above statistics are included in a tri-fold pamphlet from the Ashley Doolittle Foundation. The organization was founded in March 2017 by Ashley’s mother, Ann Marie Doolittle, in memory of her daughter.

It was June 2016. Ashley Doolittle had just turned 18 three weeks earlier and graduated from Berthoud High School with plans to attend Colorado State University in the fall to major in agriculture business. Her life had always revolved around horses: she learned to ride at age 5; belonged to 4-H (where she spent eight years) and Thompson FFA (two years as an officer); was part of the Boulder County Fair and Rodeo Royalty program.

Doolittle participated on the Boulder County Horse Judging, Horse Bowl, and Hippology teams. She was a member of several National Champion horse judging teams, including the 2014 Quarter Horse Congress National Team, the Arabian Nationals Champion Team for three consecutive years, and the National 4-H Western Round Up Champion Team, where she was the 2014 Champion High Individual Overall. Through FFA, she was named 2016 High Individual Overall State Champion.

There couldn’t possibly have been a girl more excited and eager about her future, except for one growing concern.

Since her junior year, Doolittle had been dating Tanner Flores. A happy beginning gradually morphed into trouble as 19-year-old Flores became controlling and jealous. He often looked through her phone, accused her of seeing other boys, tracked her daily activities, objected to her male friends (some of whom she’d known since childhood in 4-H, and sternly forbade her attendance at parties when she’d begin college.

College was the last thing on Flores’ personal radar screen. He was a high school dropout with stated intentions of working in his father’s trucking business. But a series of bad decisions with a fatal outcome would curtail even those vague goals.

ENDING THE RELATIONSHIP

One year after Doolittle and Flores had begun dating, she finally ended their relationship, post several previous failed attempts. One week into that final break-up, the beautiful teen with so much promise was found dead from three bullet wounds to her head. The horrifying details dominated Colorado media for many months and went national.

Flores’ subsequent trial in autumn 2017 took just seven days. Witnesses and evidence chronicled in detail Flores’ twisted, evil deed, seemingly spurred on by the controlling mindset that if he couldn’t have Doolittle, no one would.

Larimer County Sheriff’s Office investigator Aaron Horowitz, a specialist in inspecting digital forensic evidence including cell phone and social media data, read a long list of text message exchanges between Flores and Doolittle from the day before her death.

One from Flores accused her of cheating on him. He hoped she realized what she’d thrown away. He regretted how much money he’d spent on her. And he said, “I’m going to do something stupid now. Bye.”

Doolittle denied his accusations. “I never cheated on you. I never did anything with anyone while we were together. Our relationship has been over for a long time. I wanted to be friends but that isn’t possible.”

The exchanges continued, with Flores begging, “Can we meet tonight please Ashley? I won’t survive tonight.”

“Yes you will,” she replied.

But, sadly, Doolittle agreed to meet Flores the following day at Lon Hagler Reservoir southwest of Loveland, Colo.

Flores’ father testified that his son had access to firearms kept safely locked away from the family’s younger children. With at least one of those guns, now loaded, Tanner Flores met Doolittle at the reservoir on June 8, 2016. The next day, the young woman was reported missing.

On June 10, Flores was apprehended on his deceased grandfather’s property in Colbran, Colo. (on the Western Slope) to which he’d driven with Doolittle’s body in his truck. A neighboring property owner had called law enforcement after observing his activities through binoculars. He carried a body wrapped in a blanket from the house to his truck. The neighbor saw Ashley’s arm swing out of the blanket.

“I wanted to not believe what I saw,” Samantha White testified.

But what she saw had been accurate. Ashley Doolittle had been murdered by Tanner Flores, who’d spend the rest of his life behind bars. Two families were destroyed. An entire Colorado community, 4-H and FFA members, plus The Boulder County Fair and Rodeo membership, were all in shock and grieving.

Found guilty of first degree murder, felony murder, and second degree kidnapping, the young man would spend the rest of his life in prison: life in prison plus 32 years, with no possibility of parole.

At Flores’ sentencing, he had no comment. Ann Marie Doolittle stood at a podium a few feet from the convicted man dressed in a bright orange jumpsuit, his feet and hands securely restrained.

She bravely spoke to the standing-room-only crowd in the courtroom, telling them about her daughter’s lifelong love for horses, how the family would never have the joy of walking her down the aisle or of seeing Ashley’s children.

“Our hearts go out to the Flores family,” Doolittle sincerely and generously continued. “A part of me feels sorry for Tanner but that does not mean he should not be punished for his actions. We want him to carry out the rest of his life in prison.”

Now Flores languishes in a closely-monitored, caged environment, convicted of a cruel and selfish crime driven by the need to control another human being.

CARRYING ON

Ashley, who’d been designated Boulder County Fair and Rodeo Lady-In-Waiting at the time of her death, was posthumously crowned 2017 Boulder Queen. Always with a heart for children, she’d proposed a Princess Program for younger girls to complement the existing Royalty Program.

As of 2017, her suggestion was implemented. Each year, two selected girls in The Ashley Doolittle Princess Program become “Ashley’s Princesses.” They each wear chaps bearing that designation and an Ashley pin with her photo on it. Through this honor bestowed on young horsewomen, Ashley Doolittle’s memory lives on through their work in the program.

Doolittle believed that Rodeo Queens are the preeminent ambassadors of the Western lifestyle, which exemplifies freedom, self-reliance and loyalty. As queen, she hoped to promote the fair and rodeo, and to introduce others to the lifestyle she so loved. Even beyond her lifetime she has done and continues to do so.

Ann Marie Doolittle has set about trying to somehow salvage hope for others from her daughter’s tragic death. Her research on teen dating violence led her to establish the Ashley Doolittle Foundation, an organization designed to present a clear picture of the dangerous trend in today’s culture.

In 2010, a University of Virginia student, Yeardley Love, was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend just days prior to her graduation. To spread awareness of the extent of teen dating violence, Love’s mother began a foundation, based in Bronxville, N.Y.

Using One Love Foundation’s curriculum, ADF conducts Escalation Workshops. These include “an engaging and emotional film-based discussion transforming the way students view and discuss relationship violence.” These workshops are free, with all costs covered by monies raised through horse shows and other fundraising activities.

One upcoming such combined event is the Ashley Doolittle Memorial All-Around Horse Show and JACKPOT Ranch Horse Show to be held Sunday, June 23, 2019, at the Boulder County Fairgrounds Indoor Arena. The show’s Western, English, Reining, halter, and showmanship classes, begin at 8 a.m. The JACKPOT portion starts at 5 p.m.

The Foundation’s Third Annual Boots Buckles & Bling Gala at Grace Place, 375 Meadowlark Dr., Berthoud, Colo., will be on Saturday, Oct. 5, from 5-11 p.m. The festive evening will include appetizers, drinks, dinner, silent auction and live auctions, dancing and a special performance by Aubree Bullock. Arrive by 6 p.m. in semi-formal Western attire — boots and buckles encouraged. Tickets, $100/person or $700/for table of eight, can be purchased online at www.ashleydoolittlefoundation.org/gala.

BREAKING THE CYCLE

Ann Marie vigorously works through Ashley’s foundation to spread information to help break the cycle of dating violence. Many youth (currently 10 young women) as well as adults are seeking to become Escalation Workshop facilitators. This includes Ashley’s 18-year-old brother, Michael. (The siblings were just two years apart and extremely close.)

The foundation includes a Victim’s Advocate from the Larimer County District Attorney’s Office on its board of directors. Ann Marie also would like law enforcement to participate in the foundation’s work.

She’d love to see the workshops get into area schools. One principal and a School Resource Officer have expressed how impressed they are with the program, especially for 11th and 12th graders.

Ann Marie always recognized the degree of her daughter’s involvement in equestrian and agricultural endeavors. Ashley seemed to know people from all across the state of Colorado. But, Ann Marie is amazed by the true extent of her rodeo queen daughter’s influence. “I never realized the impact she had on people until after her death.”

Anyone seeking additional information about the Ashley Doolittle Foundation, to volunteer at/attend a fundraiser, to become an Escalation Workshop Facilitator, or other associated topics should contact Ann Marie Doolittle at www.ashleydoolittlefoundation.org; ashleydoolittlefoundation@gmail.com; phone (720) 226-5402. ❖

— Metzger is a freelance writer from Fort Collins, Colo. She can be reached at ponytime47@gmail.com.

Senate passes disaster aid, Congress heads home

Before departing for the Memorial Day recess late Thursday, the Senate passed a disaster aid package that includes money for farmers ravaged by hurricanes, floods and wildfires.

The House had already left for the recess. The lower chamber could pass it on a voice vote while most members are out of town, but that would have to be by unanimous consent and that appeared to be unlikely.

Congress will return the week of June 3.

An attempt by House leaders to pass the disaster aid bill by unanimous consent failed when Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, refused to agree, The Washington Post reported.

President Donald Trump said at the White House on Thursday that he agreed to support the package without the money he wanted to deal with immigration at the border because “I have to take care of my farmers with the disaster relief.”

“This way, our farmers from not only Georgia, Alabama, different places, some in Florida — but if you look at what happened in Nebraska and Iowa and a lot of different places, they got wiped out.” Trump said. “They got hurt badly. And I didn’t want to hold that up any longer.”

“So the answer is: I totally support it. I’d like to see it happen,” Trump said. “We’ll take care of the immigration later. The wall is being built.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., a lead negotiator on the supplemental, said: “Even though it may be five months late, today is a good day for the United States Congress, for the American people, and for the nation.”

“I have said from the beginning that any disaster supplemental that passes this chamber cannot pick and choose which American citizens to help in their time of need. The American community bands together to support one another when disaster strikes, regardless of where we are from, our politics, or our beliefs. That is the American way, and it is the role of Congress to make sure it is done.”

The disaster package aids a number of states and territories recovering from hurricanes, floods, wildfires and other natural disasters: Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, California, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Kansas.

The $19 billion disaster package includes help for farmers to recover from floods, wildfires and other natural disaster, and nearly a billion dollars of disaster aid for Puerto Rico, more than Trump wanted.

The Senate package includes $600 million in disaster food assistance and another $300 million in housing rebuilding funds for Puerto Rico. It also would expedite allocation of $8.9 billion Congress has already passed for the territory.

“Millions of Americans are suffering and this disaster relief plan is urgently needed,” noted Eric LeCompte, who leads the religious development group Jubilee USA.

“We applaud Senate leaders and the White House for agreeing on a disaster deal,” he said. “In Puerto Rico alone, more than a million Americans lost disaster food assistance in March and that aid is finally restored.”

Agnes and Alice

Two old cowgirls, Agnes and Alice, sat on the veranda of the Home for Old Cowgirls reminiscing about days gone by. “Listen to this,” declared Agnes and read out a review of the first National Cowboy Poetry Gathering held in Elko, Nev., back in 1985.

Previous to that year, western-states folklorists dug, dredged, researched, culled and harvested poetry penned by cowboys who — according to accepted explanations — would sit around campfires and recite poems. The folklorists intended to bring together the cowboy poets as a way to preserve the history and culture of the American West. Cowboy poetry gatherings are still going strong today, not only in Elko, but in numerous other states…

Alice, interrupting: “You keep saying cowboy. Didn’t they find any cowgirl poets?”

Agnes: “Well, I don’t suppose they looked.”

Alice: “Heck’s sake, that’s not right. You’n me been writing poetry and songs since we were big enough to operate a pen ‘n pencil.”

Agnes: “Well, that’s just the way it is. Been that way since Adam was a dude.”

Alice, grumbling: “Heck, I’ve been working on a cowgirl poem. Just finished writing one and I put it to a tune. Wanna hear it?”

Agnes: “Sure. You bet.”

At which point Alice fetched her guitar and warbled the following.

I’m An Old Cowgirl (tune: I’m An Old Cowhand)

I’m an old cowgirl from Montana Land

And I’m gettin’ old, but I’ve still got sand

I’m a cowgirl who used to chase them cows

And I roped them steers cuz I knew just how

But I shore ain’t fixin’ to do that now.

Yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay, yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay

I’m an old cowgirl from Montana Land

And I learned to ride ‘fore I learned to stand;

But my knees are bad, and I’ve put on weight

Well, a rockin’ chair’s gonna be my fate

But I’ll ride my hoss till I’m eighty-eight.

Yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay, yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay

I’m an old cowgirl from Montana Land

And I came to town just to join the band

I know all the songs that the cowboys know

And I’ll sing my songs on the cowgal show

And yodel a tune on the radio

Yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay, yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay

I’m an old cowgirl from Montana Land

Where the West is wild and it sure is grand

To live out here where the buffalo roam

Where mountains rise like a beautiful poem

It’s a place I love, and I call it home

Yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay, yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay

Alice ended her song with a riff on the guitar and a big grin while shouting:

THE WEST WAS NOT WON BY TESTOSTERONE ALONE! ❖

2020 JeepGladiator

Well, just when you thought the mid-size truck class was getting crowded when Ranger in December joined, Frontier, Tacoma, Colorado and Canyon, now we have a 2020 Jeep Gladiator. Ram has announced a new Dakota, or something like it, will be coming. Just proves everyone wants a truck. I liked the Gladiators from the 60s with the big fender flares and tall grill. I was hoping the new 2020 Gladiator would have some of the original heritage look. But its front half is the Jeep Wrangler. At the rear seat, the cab is longer making a dramatically longer truck — longest mid-size cab for adult size rear leg room. Now it does have a locking front and rear differential on Dana 44 axles and a disconnecting front stabilizer bar like the Jeep Rubicon and Ram Power Wagon. Jeep Wrangler folks are very loyal, which gives Jeep an automatic market and Jeep is making tons of money for FCA. Engine choices are one, the Pentastar 3.6L V-6 gas engine 285 horsepower, 260 torque and a 6-speed manual transmission or 8-speed automatic are at a $2,000 premium. Axle ratios are a 3.73 or 4.10 option.

Next year the new Turbocharged Ecodiesel 3.0L Ram V-6 will be available, same one that’s coming back to the Ram 1500. Pared to the 8-speed automatic with 442 torque. Three models of Gladiator starting with Sport S with the trailing capacity of 7,650 pounds and 1,600 pounds of payload. The midline is the Overland and the top of the line is Rubicon with the lockable Dana axles, 33 inch all-terrain tires and a special low range Rock-Track transfer case for a towing capacity of 7,000 pounds. Gladiator is 19 inches longer (137 inch wheelbase) than a four-door Wrangler. This will help with trailering and better road ride but will hurt with break-over angle when you’re off-roading.

One of the most unique features of the Gladiator is the various removable tops. You can take off the doors, fold down the windshield and take off the two piece roof like a T-roof, roll the canvas roof back and open the whole top or take off a hard top. I’ve always wanted a convertible truck.

Same rear suspension as a Ram 1500, Fox shocks Class 4 receiver hitch, well armored with skid plates and rock rail on the sides. So far I’ve driven it on highways and it handled well. Front and rear sway bars help the handling. Solid axles front and rear are off-roaders favorite. I was surprised that the steering is a recirculating ball like heavy duties. I guess you have to have independent front axles to use rack and pinion. The steering was fine on winding mountain roads. In a few weeks I’ll tow trailers and give my conclusions.

The tailgate, using the cables that keep the tailgate open, can hook up 1/2 way to allow the tailgate to extend the cargo area. All the beds are 5 feet. A front camera, is a big deal for off roading. When all you can see is sky climbing hills, it’s nice to see where the ground went before you fall off the cliff. And the front camera has a water squirter cleaner button. Of course a rear backup camera. An exciting time in the truck industry, lots more all new truck reviews coming this year. ❖

Idioms

English has many phrases and sentences that are commonly understood by native speakers but can confuse those who are new to English. We call them sayings or idioms and they are not literal. A good example would be if you heard the phrase “there’s more than one way to skin a cat,” and someone took it literally, they would be horrified. We know it means there is more than one way to do something, but unless you explain it, the listener might not.

If you say to a city person that something is as “scarce as hen’s teeth,” they may not understand right away but if they are the curious type they might look it up on the Internet and learn that chickens don’t have teeth at all. In other words whatever they were looking for does not exist. “A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush,” reminds us it is better to have something sure than two possibilities that might not work out.

“There’s no sense in closing the barn door after the horse has gotten out,” could be used to explain that trying to bring back negative words or gossip after the words have been spoken, is a futile exercise. “To separate the wheat from the chaff” can mean several things. If someone is telling a story and parts of it seem to be far fetched, you can discount those sections as if they are chaff, and remember the believable or wheat parts. Or if you have researched a subject and intend to write about it, you have to decide what is important, like the wheat, and omit the rest which is the chaff.

As someone who grew up on a farm and now co-owns farms, the term “bought the farm” has always seemed strange to me. How can it mean that someone was killed? The speculation of the phrase is that when a World War II soldier died his benefits were paid to his family and often were enough to pay off the farm.

When things go awry we say they “go south;” does anything that goes right “go north?” I don’t recall ever hearing that. If a non-English speaker hears you say that you just opened a can of worms they might expect to see earth worms crawling around, yet the idea means you have brought up a subject that might not be well received or could make someone upset. Lively discussions might begin.

These are all things we say and think nothing of it because we grew up understanding. Keep that in mind when you converse with others who might not have the same upbringing.

Though it’s not an idiom, it is one of my favorite quotes, “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the cornfield.” Dwight D. Eisenhower.

My email latchstring is out through thankafarmer4food@yahoo.com if you’ve got a bone to pick with me. ❖