Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, January 20, 2017, Page 12, Image 12

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January 20, 2017
Ag interests are formulating strategies of their own
BUMP from Page 1
local, state and international
Many involved in agri-
culture say they hope Trump
will ease some of the regula-
tions governing their industry,
but worry that environmental
groups will use their bigger
war chests to fi ght more legal
battles on key issues such as
public lands management, air-
and water-quality standards,
food safety and endangered
“The fear is you would
have an unfounded lawsuit
fi led, and then the (agricul-
tural) business is still respon-
sible for funding a defense of
themselves, even if the suit
has no legitimacy,” said Rick
Naerebout, director of opera-
tions at the Idaho Dairymen’s
Naerebout recalled a case
in the early 2000s in which
an environmental group fi led
a notice of its intent to sue
a dairy for alleged meth-
ane-emission violations. The
suit was eventually dropped,
but only after the association
made a six-fi gure invest-
ment in scientifi c studies that
proved the dairy didn’t pol-
the Cabinet
contacted by Capital Press all
say they have received many
more contributions since
the election, though they
wouldn’t provide numbers.
“We’re clearly seeing folks
who were hesitant to associ-
ate with us because we’re the
tree huggers, and now they’re
coming around and saying,
‘We need the tree huggers,’”
said Jeremy Nichols, who
handles climate and energy
issues for New Mexico-based
WildEarth Guardians.
Josh Mogerman, a spokes-
man for NRDC, emphasized
his organization would rath-
er be broke than have to de-
fend “bedrock environmental
protections Americans have
come to expect.” But he ac-
knowledges NRDC has expe-
rienced an “exponential bump
in engagements for online ac-
tions, as well as fundraising.”
“To some extent, we ini-
tially didn’t have to ask peo-
ple (to donate). People were
coming to us,” Mogerman
The additional contribu-
tions are on top of already
substantial revenues. Accord-
Courtesy of Earthjustice
Courtesy of WildEarth Guardians
Capital Press File
Courtesy of the Public Lands Council
Drew Caputo, vice president of
litigation at Earthjustice, said
100 of his organization’s 225
staff members are attorneys.
As a last resort, Caputo said
Earthjustice has taken both
Democratic and Republican
administrations to court.
Jeremy Nichols, of WildEarth
Guardians, says “We’re clearly
seeing folks who were hesitant
to associate with us because
we’re the tree huggers, and
now they’re coming around
and saying, ‘We need the tree
Jay Byrne, president of the
St. Louis issues management
and research firm v-Fluence,
advises agricultural leaders
to focus their advocacy on
core issues instead of “mov-
ing too quickly on too many
Ethan Lane, of the pro-agri-
culture Public Lands Council,
will be seeking legislation that
would force the executive
branch to publicize how much
taxpayer money is awarded to
environmental groups to cover
their litigation costs.
ing to tax forms fi led with
the Internal Revenue Service,
from July 1, 2014, through
June 30, 2015, NRDC report-
ed $155 million in total reve-
nue, including slightly more
than $134 million in contribu-
tions and grants.
For January through De-
cember 2015, WildEarth
Guardians reported nearly
$3 million in total revenue,
and Earthjustice, a nonprofi t
law fi rm that takes on envi-
ronmental cases, brought in
$48.1 million.
During that same peri-
od, the Sierra Club reported
$109.2 million in revenue, in-
cluding $94.3 million in con-
tributions and grants.
Western Watersheds Project
brought in $639,000 in total
revenue for the year ending
December 2014.
More recently, criticizing
Trump’s Cabinet and agency
leadership choices has been
an especially lucrative fund-
raising strategy, the environ-
mentalists said.
A Sierra Club blog de-
scribes Trump’s pick to lead
the Environmental Protection
Agency, Oklahoma Attor-
ney General Scott Pruitt, as a
“climate science denier who
repeatedly partnered with
the state’s largest polluters to
block health and environmen-
tal safeguards.”
The organization con-
cludes that the choice of Pruitt
will make “America the scorn
of the world.” On the site is a
link with instructions to do-
nate to the club each month
and “protect the planet from
In its online advertising,
the NRDC encourages sup-
porters to “Speak out! Tell
your senators to vote NO on
Donald Trump’s Cabinet of
polluters.” NRDC contends
Secretary of State pick Rex
Tillerson, the retired CEO of
Exxon Mobil, “put his compa-
ny’s interests ahead of those
of the U.S. and thwarted ac-
tion on climate change.”
NRDC also takes to task
former Texas Gov. Rick Perry,
tapped to oversee the Depart-
ment of Energy, for his record
on climate change and claims
Secretary of the Interior pick
Ryan Zinke, a second-term
congressman from Montana,
has a “rock-bottom voting
record on the environment of
3 percent,” as calculated by
the League of Conservation
“You have a list of ex-
tremely pro-industry advo-
cates with very weak records
on environmental protection
and conservation,” said Erik
Molvar, executive director of
the Western Watersheds Proj-
ect. “That elevates the need
for conservation groups like
Western Watersheds to hold
them accountable.”
“We’re at the point right
now where almost every-
thing is litigated the second
it comes out by these radical
environmental groups,” Lane
said, adding that the council
will also encourage Congress
to take up broad litigation re-
Lane believes environmen-
tal activists have abandoned
facts and turned to scare tac-
tics in their appeals to the
public, increasingly depicting
ranchers and others who de-
pend on public lands as vil-
lains motivated by greed.
Nichols, of WildEarth
Guardians, dismisses any crit-
icism of turning to the legal
system as a tool, noting the
courts are the government’s
third branch.
“It’s downright democrat-
ic to use courts to advance
goals,” Nichols said.
Drew Caputo, vice pres-
ident of litigation at Earth-
justice, said 100 of his orga-
nization’s 225 staff members
are attorneys. As a last resort,
Caputo said, Earthjustice has
taken both Democratic and
Republican administrations
to court for decades to force
the government to follow the
law. But he acknowledged
that he’s especially concerned
about Trump, based on the
businessman’s rhetoric and a
slate of Cabinet picks Caputo
claims are the most anti-en-
vironment nominees ever ap-
pointed by a president during
his lifetime.
“We have reason to believe
they’re going to take actions
which are not only bad for the
environment, but also bad for
the law,” Caputo said.
Molvar also expects the
Western Watersheds Project
to spend a lot of time fi ghting
Trump policies in court, not-
ing conservation groups are
more apt to sue when they be-
lieve the environment is under
“Conservation groups are
a bit like the highway patrol
of the environment,” Mol-
var said. “Somebody driving
5 mph over the speed limit
you’re less likely to pull over
and give a ticket than if he’s
driving 90 mph and drunk.”
Litigation reform
Meanwhile, agricultural
interests are formulating strat-
egies of their own.
A top priority for Ethan
Lane, who represents public
lands grazing interests at the
pro-agriculture Public Lands
Council, will be seeking leg-
islation that would force the
executive branch to publicize
how much taxpayer money
is awarded to environmental
groups to cover their litiga-
tion costs when they prevail
in court.
Lane suspects the public
would be aghast if the num-
bers were made available.
Avoiding pushback
Though the incoming
Trump administration is
generally viewed as friend-
ly to agriculture, some warn
against trying to go too far,
too fast.
Jay Byrne, president of the
St. Louis issues management
and research fi rm v-Fluence,
advises agricultural leaders to
focus their advocacy on core
issues instead of “moving too
quickly on too many fronts”
in pursuit of reforms that
could be viewed as extreme.
The fi rm provides public pol-
icy intelligence to the food
“Some suggest there may
be a radical dismantling of
regulations, and that could
end up with pushback and
other reactions that, in the
end, could hurt farming in-
terests,” said Byrne. “You
want to take advantage of
the opportunities, but also be
cautious that we don’t enable
and lift up some of the more
radical opponents.”
Regardless, Byrne predicts
unprecedented levels of liti-
gation impacting agriculture
Based on observations
from 2005 to 2007 — the last
time Republicans held both
houses of Congress and the
White House — Byrne ex-
pects environmental activists
to take many of their fi ghts to
the city, county and state lev-
els. For example, Byrne said,
anti-agricultural groups re-
cently convinced a New York
City Parent Teacher Associa-
tion to endorse a ban on serv-
ing genetically modifi ed foods
in school, as well as a ban on
milk and other dairy products
from cows treated with artifi -
cial growth hormone.
Regardless of the science,
Byrne said, many liberal-lean-
ing local and state leaders will
be apt to support the activists
because of their general dis-
dain for Trump.
“We’re going to be chal-
lenged by fi ghting thousands
of little fi res,” Byrne said.
He also expects the groups
to increase their lobbying in
international policy forums,
which could infl uence key ag-
ricultural trade partners such
as China, Japan and South
“Junk science” — scien-
tifi c claims appearing in so-
called pay-to-play journals
not backed by credible re-
search — will also proliferate
in the coming years, Byrne
said. He said biotech crops
and animal health products
are popular targets of junk
“You might fi nd more
mainstream sources giving
additional weight or coverage
to these types of tactics for
political reasons,” Byrne said.
Brian Brooks, executive
director of the Idaho Wildlife
Federation, agrees with By-
rne that conservationists will
“avoid the national circus”
and increase their efforts at
the local and state levels.
“IWF is really looking
forward to the support of
these national organizations,”
Brooks said.
Brooks emphasized that
IWF is nonpartisan, represent-
ing sportsmen in general, and
is viewed by many as a mid-
dle-ground organization. Since
Trump’s victory, however,
Brooks believes the environ-
mental movement has become
more “cohesive,” with conser-
vative hunting organizations
fi nding new common ground
with groups on the far left.
IWF has also enjoyed a recent
spike in new memberships,
boosting revenue.
“What’s changed is we
need to understand help is
going to come from the right
and the left of us because of
the uncertainty,” Brooks said.
‘The pendulum has swung both ways pretty hard’
SALES from Page 1
don’t expect to repeat the
“heyday” of surging sales be-
tween 2009 and 2013, he said.
“The pendulum has swung
both ways pretty hard,”
O’Brien said.
Manufacturers learned
their lesson from the ag-
ricultural downturn of the
1980s and were prepared to
be “more nimble” when the
“abnormal times” of unusu-
ally high commodity prices
ended, he said.
The adjustment has in-
volved lay-offs and factory
closures, O’Brien said. “It’s
a constant effort to right-
size operations.”
Deere & Co., a major U.S.
farm machinery company,
has experience a 30 percent
reduction in revenue since
the 2013 peak, but nonethe-
less managed to post a $1.5
billion profit during its 2016
fiscal year, according to
financial documents.
U.S. ag machinery sales down since 2013
2WD (100 HP+)
(Thousands of units sold)
Overall sales
down 23.4%
from 2015
30 3.7
Source: Association of Equipment Manufacturers
Mateusz Perkowski and Alan Kenaga/Capital Press
Similarly, the AGCO
Corp., which manufac-
tures multiple machin-
ery brands, reported net
income of $99 million
during the first three-quar-
ters of 2016 despite a sales
“The larger players an-
ticipated this and made ad-
justments,” said Langemei-
er of Purdue University.
It’s likely that major
manufacturers will be on
the prowl to acquire small-
er machinery companies
during this time of distress,
he said.
Farmers who are still
able to afford machinery,
meanwhile, are well-posi-
tioned to benefit from deals,
particularly for used equip-
ment, Langemeier said.
“If they have the liquid-
ity, it’s not a bad time to
look,” he said.
As growers bought new
machinery when crop pric-
es were soaring, they trad-
ed in recently manufactured
tractors and combines, cre-
ating a glut of high-quality
used equipment, O’Brien
Dealers have done a good
job of clearing out invento-
ries of used combines, but
still face a surplus of used
large tractors, he said. “We
are basically a victim of our
own success.”
About 70 percent of the farmers surveyed for Purdue University’s
“Ag Economy Barometer” believe it’s not a good time to invest in
farm machinery,
Trump administration could greatly curtail the scale of a national monument
LAND from Page 1
its authority to create national mon-
uments to the president in the Antiq-
uities Act.
However, the power to revoke such
designations belongs solely to Con-
gress, not to succeeding presidential
administrations, according to the opin-
Even so, the Trump administration
could greatly reduce the scale of a na-
tional monument by shrinking it to a
quarter-acre, for example, Budd-Falen
The Republican-controlled Con-
gress could also outright overturn a
national monument designation or
simply excise tracts that are most prob-
lematic for ranchers and other natural
resource users, said Scott Horngren, an
attorney with the Western Resources
Legal Center, which litigates on behalf
of agriculture and timber interests.
“They could use a scalpel,” said
With the multitude of contentious
issues facing the Trump administra-
tion and Congress, though, it’s open to
question whether they’ll want to tackle
disputes over national monuments, he
said. “We just don’t know that.”
If the Trump administration did
drastically roll back the size of a na-
tional monument, environmental
groups could argue in federal court
that the reduction was made arbitrari-
ly in violation of the Antiquities Act,
Horngren said.
Under that statute, national monu-
ments should be as small as possible
to protect resources within the mon-
ument, so the Trump administration
could argue that his predecessor’s
boundaries were too expansive, he
Though opponents of national
monument designations tend to cast
them as “midnight regulations” by
outgoing presidents, in reality, new
monuments and expansions must be
justifi ed in “rationales,” said Michael
Blumm, an environmental law profes-
sor at Lewis & Clark Law School.
If the Trump administration decid-
ed to signifi cantly shrink a national
monument, it would have to provide
a similarly well-reasoned justifi cation,
he said.
“The courts have taken seriously
those rationales,” Blumm said. “There
can’t be any arbitrary decision-mak-
Presidents do have a “fair
amount” of fl exibility in deciding
what uses are permitted within na-
tional monuments, as long as they
don’t undermine the monument’s
fundamental values, he said.
A major reduction in a national
monument’s boundaries would be un-
precedented, partly because past presi-
dents have been reluctant to scale back
earlier designations, Blumm said.
The Bush administration, for ex-
ample, defended national monuments
created by the Clinton administration,
he said.
The issue goes beyond partisan
politics and resonates with concerns
about the institution of the presiden-
cy, Blumm said. “Presidents like the
monument authority, especially on
their way out, because it provides
them with a legacy.”