Lorraine Newmen

I am a 4th generation immigrant and manage the family farm in Montana. My families immigrated from Norway and Russia (Volga-Germans). Our families immigration stories are still alive and we have become a part of the American Dream. From my Norwegian great grandfather who walked a band of sheep from Bozeman to Winnett to homestead and my German great grandmother whose first home in Billings as a migrant worker was a boxcar we trace the footsteps of those who came before us. We have succeeded in sending our college educated 5 generation across this great country from the East to the West Coasts to work and pursue their American dreams. . I am grateful for the founders who envisioned this country my families came to. It has been our shining city on the hill.

It’s Earth Day! WWYD?

  So here comes another “Earth Day” or for those of us who remember “Arbor Day.” What are you going to do for this roundish ball we live on that floats in the galaxy? Plant a tree? Weed your flower bed? Pick up trash? Or, take a walk through a forested park? On the farms and ranches of the USA we celebrate Earth Day 24/7, 365 days a year, and have been for centuries. From our indigenous people who cross-pollinated to create sturdier and healthier crops, to the farmers and ranchers who sustain us today; it is a full-time effort to treat our environment kindly with a look towards feeding people in the future. Here are just some of the developments that have happened during my life in the agriculture industry. Crop rotation has been a concept on small irrigated farm land since I was a wee girl. Many days were spent rolling, wet hay bales so that they could dry out after a rain. While that hay crop was never a big money-maker, it put nitrogen back in the soil for our beet and corn crops. Each year the landscape changed with each rotation of crop sites, which then …

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Privacy Rights get a Victory – Thanks to Farmers!

It is great to see conflicts being resolved without further court battles. It is great to see citizens privacy being respected. And I love that part of the settlement where the EPA has to take training on the Freedom of Information Act.  Hope you are heartened by this also. ` Lorraine Newman March 28, 2017 Farm Bureau applauds settlement agreement to protect farmers’ privacy The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Pork Producers Council have closed the final chapter of their lawsuit challenging EPA’s release of farmer and rancher personal information, when a federal judge approved a settlement that secures the private information of thousands of livestock and poultry farmers in 36 states. “This lawsuit has won a major victory for personal privacy,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “Months ago, we won a court decision that vindicates the rights of farmers and all Americans to protect their personal information from dissemination by the government. This settlement is the final step, requiring that EPA scrub all personal information from the records involved and train its staff on the proper handling of personal information.” AFBF and NPPC filed the lawsuit in 2013 after EPA released a vast compilation …

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Bow Down

Several years ago, when the Whatcom County Council proposed purchasing land back from the State, I wrote about the King’s Forest. The concept being this purchase was merely to enhance the council and would be of no benefit to anyone else. Sad to say that seems to be the case, as no increased ability to use the Whatcom Reconveyance had materialized. In October, I wrote about our Council behaving like the Romans with an insatiable desire for power over life and death. Fast forward to last night’s Council meeting, where a man came to them and begged for them not to continue their moratorium on permits to develop property within the Nooksack watershed. Council-members Weimer, Browne, Mann, Buchanan, Brenner, Donovan, and Sidhu, all sat as witnesses tp a man begging before them, creating a new picture that will forever be etched in their minds and of those who attended. A “man” went down on his knees in front of them and begged them to allow for a well on his property, so that he and his family would not become homeless. Do you find this hard-to-believe? After all we are in a rainfall rich county and only half of our county is develop-able, the other …

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“All Hail Caesar”…The Romans are at the Well…a Vision for the “Royals and Serfs,” in Whatcom County

It has been interesting (in a macabre way) to watch the metamorphosis of the Whatcom County Council and the parallels it has with Roman history. Ancient Rome started as a republic controlled by the wealthy few. Think RE Sources, a very well-funded few who live-in our community, who actively take money from our Council and use it to control your lives and promote people into positions of power to control people and business, here. The only voice for the middle and lesser-classes has been limited to a veto that could be exercised through a Tribune, our cause against the Council. Whatcom County citizens only have the possibility of a veto if a “Tribune” (County Executive) champions their cause. The Roman Republic only worked well for those wealthy few, so there was unrest. In Rome, the unrest would manifest into riots or civil wars. Although less violent, our marathon council sessions where the masses bring their grievances to the council have been signals of the growing unrest of the people. The Roman Senate offered bread and circuses to placate the people; much like our council has provided us with parks and trails, and promised housing for the homeless. But eventually even free stuff …

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Another Breach of Trust from a Government Agency.

I would like to say I am shocked and surprised, but in the current government agency environment, the old adage of why ask for permission when you can just say you are sorry later seems to have taken a good hold on our federal agencies. For years I have heard farmers and ranchers speculate about answering Census questions and filing reports with government agencies. Because 75% of farming is still small (less than $50,000 in gross sales) and family owned, government reporting contains personal information about the individuals involved. It appears their concerns were justified. Now that the cow is out of the barn, EPA will not be able to undo the damage of private information already released but hopefully due to a recent ruling from the 8th Circuit Court, they will not continue to release private information. ~ Lorraine Newman Below is a report from Ag News Wire concerning CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) reports filed with EPA and the Circuit Court decision: “The Environmental Protection Agency has violated the personal privacy of tens of thousands of farmers and ranchers, according to a unanimous ruling issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The ruling …

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“Save Ozzie” – Because All Pets Lives Matter

Ozzie is 28 years old with the probability of 2 more years of life. We invite you to join us Tuesday, July 19th, 2016, 12 noon, at the Department of Ecology’s Regional Branch, in Bellingham ’s Fairhaven District (see map below), to seek answers.  What are their intentions for the lives of all pets in Whatcom County, and Ozzie in particular? Last week we shared a post from a Whatcom County rural resident about her problem dealing with the State Department of Ecology (DOE). We shared Kathy and Ozzie’s post because we have heard rumblings from the county that DOE is expanding their compliance programs with real negative effects on rural lives. Well, Ozzie’s story has struck a chord in our county and beyond.  (See Kathy’s story below.) When a state agency comes knocking at your door it is intimidating. They come with the full weight of the state behind them. You can only hope whatever compliance they are seeking will not crush you. Whatcom County rural land owners are finding there is no easy, quick, or inexpensive way to keep their pets on their acreage when the DOE comes knocking. They are being told they must comply with similar …

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Confusion in the Council Chambers

At 9:30 this Tuesday morning, interested parties gathered in the Whatcom County Council chambers to hear about and hopefully comment on radical changes being suggested to our Comprehensive Plan involving the Cherry Point Area. By 10:30, the council left the council chambers for an Executive Session with the Whatcom County lawyers regarding these very changes. The chamber full of people waited patiently. By 11:30 the council had reconvened and with some confusion announced that per the advice of their legal staff, they would vote to pull these amendments from the Comprehensive Plan, refer them back to the Planning Department and re-introduce them at a later time, in order to provide time for public comment. Before they voted, each council-member made a comment on their opinion of the process to date. Councilman Sidhu, began contentiously by stating his displeasure with the public comments he had received to date, and lectured the room on reading proposals before communicating with council-members. Councilwoman Brenner, affirmed that she had read every communication sent to her on the Cherry Point Amendments and only found 2 to have no value. Councilman Weimer, defended the amendments and defended the short notice of the amendments. He stated that they could not bring …

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Whatcom County needs to hit the Planning Attitude Reset Button

  There is a new  informational booklet out there about Bellingham that asks are we “Failing to Plan or Planning to Fail?”   It is a pertinent question in light of the recent news that we at the bottom of the 50 worst places to live in the United States.  We need to start asking what has gone wrong here? Perhaps part of our problem can be gleaned from this article from the Charleston Post Courier, “The Mega-Developments.” For those interested in developments, especially mega-planned developments, this is a good read. It highlights development issues faced in the Charleston, South Carolina area. It speaks of both the positives and negatives. This upbeat article tells how people on all sides worked together and focused on solving problems rather than just say no to everything. The last sentence says it all, about a community that is willing to face a changing future unafraid, and shape it into a place for all. “Berkeley County” will continue to push for industrial and commercial growth, so our residents are able to live, work, raise a family and play here in Berkeley County,” he said. “We want to make sure that our residents can continue to enjoy the beauty …

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Good News for Owners of Puddles, Ditches and Plows

The Supreme Court does not always offer unanimous decisions, but here is one that supporters of property rights will like in the case titled United States v. the Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., Inc.   Today they ruled that landowners may challenge  the Army Corps of Engineers, a federal agency,  when they attempt to improperly regulate land with regulations designed to protect water. To give a little background, in the past the Army Corps of Engineers could write a “determination”  that your property could be regulated because it impacts water.  But a “determination”  was not considered as a “final agency action.”   As a result property owners who received a “determination” that a landscape feature was a “water of the United States” from the Army Corp of Engineers had two options,  continue what they were doing and face civil fines up to $37,500 a day, or attempt to comply.  The compliance process would take several years and require tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to apply for a permit, only to have the permit ultimately denied.   Only after a permit was denied could they seek remedy in the courts. Now property owners will have the right to challenge the …

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Fish vs the Pacific Northwest

This post was written prior to learning of the Army Corp of Engineers decision to deny consideration of the permit for the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point. Coming from an agricultural background I have been watching with interest the “What’s Upstream” story. If your only source of news is the McClatchy Group or TV news from Seattle you may have missed it. But most savvy people interested in real news now have other sources, like the KGMI morning news of which Liberty Road is a volunteer part. So imagine my surprise when a recent Bellingham Herald story on the closure of salmon fishing had two things in common with one of our reports: (1) the NW Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC) and (2) shutting down economic drivers in our state. In a nutshell: The NW Indian Fisheries Commission has been spreading a false scenario across our state about purported damage from agriculture on their fisheries. In the state of Washington the agricultural industry represents $51 Billion of our economy and employs more than Microsoft and Boeing combined. As far as I can tell from the NWIFC sponsored campaign they would like to see the agriculture industry eliminated from our state. …

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