Texas state lawmakers recently approved a bill that will ban plant-based food products from using the terms “meat” or “beef” to describe the food on labels. The bill is intended to prohibit companies from misleading consumers, about what is in food products, and the bill would also keep companies that produce food from insects, plants or cell cultures from labeling them as conventional meat products. But the bill won’t bar companies manufacturing meat substitutes like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger, from using the term “burger” to describe and label their products.
Since President Biden signed an executive order, known as the 30 by 30 plan on January 27th, a whole host of critics, including farm organizations, conservative radio and TV commentators, Republican politicians and agricultural spokes persons have claimed that the plan was aimed at taking away land from farmers under the guise of land conservation. All of this push-back reminds me of the game, called telephone, that we played at parties when I was a kid. We’d all sit in a circle, and the first player would whisper a few word, like, “Tom just got a brown horse with three white stockings that he calls buster.” As this story was passed along through the circle, it might end up garbled to the point that Buster’s horse Mike, was white and only had three legs. The lesson we learned was that information you receive by word of mouth is not always accurate. In fact, if you don’t receive information directly from the source, there’s a good chance that at least part of the message is garbled. This principal also applies to social media, where misinformation is often passed on, not to a dozen people in a circle, but to thousands of users, some of whom become incensed by the falsehoods that are embedded among the facts. Last week, administration officials outlined a more detailed plan of the 30 by 30 executive order which is now called “America the Beautiful.” The administration calls it a 10 year, locally-led and voluntary nationwide effort to conserve, connect and restore 30% of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030, using science as a guide to create more parks in nature-deprived communities, support tribally led conservation and restoration priorities, expand collaborative conservation of fish and wildlife habitats and corridors, increase access for outdoor recreation, create jobs by investing in restoration and resilience, and incentivizing and rewarding the voluntary conservation efforts of fishers, farmers and ranchers. While the plan is aimed at degraded land, some Republican lawmakers are concerned that the government could designate strict protections on some land that remains productive. Currently, nearly 26% of coastal waters are protected by conservation practices, but only 12% of the U.S. land mass is considered to be conserved. Some critics contend that to reach the 30% target for land, it would require adding an additional 440 million acres, an area that’s twice the size of Texas. But Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack contends that the plan honors private property rights and supports the voluntary stewardship efforts of private landowners, and the report specifically notes, “Efforts to conserve and restore America’s lands and waters must respect the rights of private property owners. Such efforts must also build trust among all communities and stakeholders, including by recognizing and rewarding the voluntary conservation efforts of private landowners.”
The drought in Colorado continues to intensify, with nearly 15% of the state experiencing Exceptional Drought, the highest drought rating, 32% is in Extreme Drought and 61% is suffering from Severe Drought, according to the US Drought Monitor. The entire Four Corners Region is in extreme to exceptional drought with exception of the Chuska mountains, Conditions are unlikely to change in the near term, because the National Weather Service long range forecast is predicting that drought conditions will persist into mid summer. In response to drought and low water supplies, water managers have significantly curtailed irrigation water allocations for farmers and ranchers, dryland farmers are reconsidering what they’ll plant this spring, and many ranchers are setting up drought contingency plans. Barring a miracle of nature, all of us who live in the Region will have to adapt to limited water supplies. Home owners also need to plan for a dry summer concerning their lawns and gardens. Colorado State University Extension and turf grass specialists recommend that grass should be cut to no less than three to four inches in height and that only a third of the leaves of the growing grass should be cut at anyone time. Water should be applied with deep infrequent watering to the depth of the root system. Generally, the root system of grasses are about the same length as the top growth, so continually mowing grass down to an inch and a half doesn’t allow grass to grow root systems that are tolerant of dry conditions. Experts suggest that when the grass doesn’t spring back after it’s walked it should be watered, but if water supplies are very short, home owners should consider applying water to shrubs and trees, which cost much more to replace than grass.