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Time to ditch the rule before EPA ditches you

Time to ditch the rule before EPA ditches you

By Mike Barnett

It looks like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is trying to flood agriculture into submission with its revisions of the Clean Water Act.

This map, developed by the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and updated for EPA, shows locations and flow patterns of waterways in Texas.

At first glance, it looks innocent enough. Where it gets problematic is how it could be used.

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Federal judge in Hawaii bars county from excessive regulation

Federal judge in Hawaii bars county from excessive regulation

By Gene Hall

It’s always refreshing to see a legal matter settled on the basis of law and fact rather than emotion, overheated rhetoric and political theory. This was the case in Hawaii a few days ago when a federal judge ruled against Kauai County’s aggressive and anti-farmer Ordinance 960.

It’s not that silly laws never win in court, but this one, sillier than most, was turned back, though on more narrow grounds than I believe were justified.  Kauai County Ordinance 960 was passed some months ago with very strict curbs on many agricultural practices and the agribusiness firms that operate there. Included were restrictions on pesticide use and biotechnology, or GMOs if you will. The trouble is, that’s the state’s job—one that Hawaii performs aggressively.

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GMOs: It’s all in the name

GMOs: It’s all in the name

By Mike Barnett

Genetically modified organisms. GMOs.

I’m not sure who thought up the nomenclature for this biotech wonder, but the acronym GMO probably contributes more to public fear and misunderstanding than anything else.

GMO. It sounds scary. Genetically Modified Organisms. That’s even more frightening. Those are words and phrases activists can hang their hat on, and let me tell you, they’ve done one fine job of hanging hats.

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Texas farmer emphasizes need for workable ag labor force

Texas farmer emphasizes need for workable ag labor force

By Mike Barnett

“A farmer should never have to destroy a crop due to the lack of an adequate labor force.”

Attribute that statement to American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Bob Stallman. It is a thought echoed throughout Texas and the nation as food spoils in the field because Congress is unwilling to address labor shortages in agriculture.

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The power of the one-word argument

The power of the one-word argument

By Gene Hall

Here I am, trying to communicate complex ideas about the science of agriculture, navigating a broken political system and looking for serious people to debate in a serious way. Then, turn a rhetorical corner, start making progress, and you are bludgeoned with the deadly “one-word argument.”

I’d really like some help here. Looking for answers on immigration reform? NO! #AMNESTY!–in all caps shouting. Start laying out the overwhelming evidence supporting the safety and environmental benefits of biotechnology (GMOs) in food and you get–#MONSANTO!–as if that settled the argument.

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Winning all the Time? Not gonna happen

Winning all the Time?  Not gonna happen

By Gene Hall

Today we will compare our broken political discourse with our favorite football team. Mine is Texas A&M. I want to win. I want to go 14-0 and put a national championship trophy in the case. I want every Aggie possession to result in scoring. I refuse to accept that Aggie opponents score, ever again, or gain another yard. I want the scoreboard at Kyle Field to explode keeping up with Aggie points.

Now back to reality. Even though I would prefer undefeated seasons and championships, I am adjusted to the fact that it’s not possible all the time. Even vaunted Alabama lost two games last season. I can take pleasure in winning eight or nine of 12 games.

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