On the EDge: Note to Bundy Militia, don’t bite hand that feeds you

OPINION — If I could say one thing to the clowns dressed up in camo and toting guns around the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, it would be: “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

This whole business about the feds encroaching on your ranching rights and trying to put you out of business is a crock.

Look, I understand ranching is a tough job.

I understand calving season is a 24/7 thing, it can be tough to find feed for your livestock, to water them, to get a good price at market.

I understand it is getting tougher and tougher to make a buck when competing with the factory farmers who are fueled on the funding of corporate America who is out to bury you.

I realize Mother Nature can be cruel and wreck a promising year with a wicked twist of fate, whether she blows fire, drought or floods your way.

But, I don’t think the federal government is your enemy, and I don’t think, deep inside, you do either.

It’s tough to make a buck these days no matter what you do. In ranching, there are variables of market and disease that can be crippling. From the bad press about mad cow disease some time back to complaints about a hike in the federal grazing rates, it would seem it’s not easy.

But the mad cow thing, once the public realized was not as widespread as it was sensationalized, soon faded. And the grazing fee hike? Well, it went up last year from $1.35 a month to a whopping $1.69 a month. That fee, by the way, is for the use of public lands by one cow and her calf, one horse or five sheep or goats for a month. I’ve had dogs that ate $1.69 worth of food in a day.

But it must also be noted that your wannabe militiaman leader, Ammon Bundy, according to numerous reports, received a $530,000 Small Business Administration loan in 2010; the Hammond family, around whom this whole current bit of nonsense is centered, was on the receiving end of about $300,000 in federal disaster payments and subsidies from the mid-1990s until 2012; the federal government also spends millions each year to eradicate predators and maintain the public lands where the Hammonds graze their livestock, a point lost on those of you who are pointing any number and arrangement of fingers at the feds.

Your arguments about how the feds are out to get you are about as valid as those accusing undocumented aliens of sucking up all the Welfare benefits.

Besides, your behavior also does little to enhance the image of the rancher as the strong, silent cowboy who rides the range, works the earth and feeds the nation. Look, my heroes have always been cowboys, too. I’ve known cowboys, been around cowboys. You guys camping out in the Oregon woods are not cowboys.

While we’re at it, I’d also like to mention that I’m tired of hearing about how patriotic you are, how you’re defending the people’s land.

If you truly believe that the BLM land belongs to “the people,” you should review your civics lessons. One of the tenets of communism is the land of a country belongs to all of its citizens equally, not through direct mass share ownership but by ownership through the state that represents them. So, make up your mind about which flag you choose to wrap yourself up in. 

Try doing a little homework, please, before you go spouting about rights and government “overreach,” a term we should retire because it has lost its mojo.

If you’ve got a beef, don’t arm yourself and take over a federal facility, direct your anger at the bankers and investors who have shored up the factory farms. Confront Congress, which continues to provide tax breaks and legislation benefiting the corporate ranchers and farmers.

Want to do something about it? Vote out the elected officials feeding at the public trough in Washington, D.C., and put some effort into helping Farm Aid, the group headed by Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews that was formed in 1985 to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise money to keep farm families on the land. Farm Aid, which Nelson thought would only be necessary for a year or two, has since raised $48 million to rebuild America’s family farms. In the grand scheme, it may not seem like a lot, but it helps.

If you are a rancher, you certainly have a right to be aggrieved but not by the actions of the feds.

The ranchers and farmers in the West have a history of disputes, from the cattle-sheep wars to the range wars between property owners. This latest skirmish is neither the first nor, sadly, the last with the federal government, the perennial enemy in the eyes of so many who work the earth. It is, however, a ratcheting of that sentiment.

I guess that’s what we’ve evolved into these days, though, a nation of people just looking for somebody or something we can pin our anger on, which explains why the Donald Trump message resonates with so many voters as the caucus and primary season inches ever closer.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.


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  • Who January 12, 2016 at 10:28 am

    Once again, you don’t understand. It’s about the federal government taking state land and charging us to use it. It’s also about the federal government taking state land and telling us how (if at all) we can use it. Take the grand staircase for example. You’re obviously not an outdoors man so you haven’t seen how the federal government has slowly taken over OUR land. Go out and enjoy what we have to offer and then go back a year from now and see if you can enjoy the same land. Too many people are sitting on their hands while the federal government slowly takes OUR land. And, by the way doing a miserable and extremely costly job of managing it. I certainly don’t condone what the Bundy’s are doing, I just have a problem with people like you that don’t see the whole picture and write (or should I say incite) about it.

    • Pam January 13, 2016 at 3:48 pm

      “OUR Land” what a joke…….if you want to get technical the land belongs to the Native Americans. Case closed you don’t have a leg to stand on with that argument.

      • ladybugavenger January 13, 2016 at 6:46 pm

        Give the land back to the Native Americans!

        • .... January 14, 2016 at 12:37 am

          Ladybugs it’s not they’re land so they’re not getting back something back that doesn’t belong to them

  • NotSoFast January 12, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Some thoughtful arguments Ed. You should send your resume to the main Bernie Sanders campaign office. (Might get a gig)
    You could also include a piece on ‘why the Black Lives Matters Movement’ is in the best interest of country. And if everyone was a vegetarian and/or a PETA supporter, you could write about something far more useful to us readers.

    • .... January 12, 2016 at 11:12 am

      Hey NotSoSnart anything Ed writes regardless of how useless and stupid of an article it is. It’s always better than anything you have ever posted !

      • NotSoFast January 12, 2016 at 1:04 pm

        Ouch! That hurts Miss January. Sorry for talking over your head.

        • .... January 12, 2016 at 2:59 pm

          Oh wow that hurts miss March …really ? is that all you have

        • IDIOT COMMENTERS January 13, 2016 at 1:20 am

          so who is miss february ?

          • .... January 14, 2016 at 12:38 am

            Uh ? Mesaman

  • anybody home January 12, 2016 at 11:17 am

    In so many ways Ammon Bundy and his over-the-hill gang are becoming a laughing stock with their tough talk and “brave” deeds – while at the same time asking for French vanilla creamer and underwear. Truly tough guys go commando, bro. In other ways these yahoos are scary as he** simply because they’re so off-center and have already threatened to use their guns if anybody tries to get them to leave. The local community wants them gone, the law wants them gone, the 15-year-old girl who got a standing ovation at the town meeting for expressing her fear of them wants them gone. Why aren’t they gone??????

    Because they’re boorish and narcissistic criminals who were allowed an easy out in Nevada in 2014 and have good old Moroni on their side. Well, I’m from Oregon and I can tell you that if they harm a hair on any resident’s head, there will be more trouble for the Bundy’s and their gang than they could possibly imagine.

    And, by the way Ed, they’re not camped out in the woods. The Malheur refuge is in the middle of a big desert. Take a look at a couple of pictures. No trees in sight.

  • tcrider January 12, 2016 at 11:47 am

    excellent article Ed,
    These white trash scum that are pretending they are patriots, are nothing but a bunch of under educated, well-fare seeking trailer trash.
    Its just another means of trying to get something for nothing, I guess the nuts don’t fall far from the tree.
    I liked your previous article better that compares these assault rifle pointing white trash scum to terrorist.
    If these were blacks or muslims that took a federal facility by force with assault rifles, they would of been removed with extreme force, which is what I hope happens to the white trash.
    I also bet none of these self appointed patriot, self righteous, scum bags have never served a day in the military, if they want to consider themselves patriotic, they first need to serve their government. But I highly doubt they would meet the minimum aptitude requirements, probably too much inbreeding.
    Ed you write excellent articles that couldn’t be further from truth, keep up the good work.
    What is also funny, is how much all the media is ignoring these idiots.

  • IDIOT COMMENTERS January 12, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    The real question is why obama has ordered federal agencies to take a totally hands off approach with these inbreds, and why weren’t these clowns indicted after that nevada circus?

    • .... January 12, 2016 at 3:06 pm

      Obama doesn’t want to upset the the mainstream cry babies like NotSoSmart all upset

  • IDIOT COMMENTERS January 12, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    they all better get a knock on their doors from the FBI after they go home

  • kurtballard13 January 12, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    Ed, I got a great idea.. Why don’t you give up writing ?? Very few people wanna read your sorry a$$ anyway, you’d be doing Southern Utah a great service if you did.. Little COMMIE puke that doesn’t have a clue.. In typical liberal fashion, it’s lies and half truths, and more lies, accusations, assumptions, and rhetoric..

    Ed I’ve got news for you, the Shetland pony rides mommy and daddy let you go on, the midget trail guide you thought was a cowboy, he wasn’t, he was just a carni rat, the Roy Rogers attire gave you the wrong impression.. Truth be told, real cowboys would have run your granola, tofu eating a$$ off in a second..

    I love how you spin you’re little welfare web, make Ammon out to be a government handout, that’s what the focus of your entire spill is intended to do, just demonize him.. A loan isn’t a handout, and if the FEDS gave the Hammond’s any money, by gawd they more than earned it.. Because ya see Ed doesn’t wanna talk about the facts and the truth, hell no liberal maggots would never use the facts..

    You didn’t mention the BLM burning down the Hammond’s house, or all of the cattle they burned alive.. Nor did you mention the million dollars they spent on lawyers and court costs, all of it brought on for 1 reason, LETS BE CLEAR, they refused to be bought out..

    You didn’t mention being sent too prison twice for the same crime, two men without any criminal history are charged as terrorists.. Why don’t you tell your audience why the FEDS want their land, come on Ed, tell the truth ??

    Guess what Ed ?? We’ll all be expecting a formal apology outta you when all the facts are on the table ?? On the same token, lets not kid ourselves, It’s not like we all don’t know it’s the FEDS breaking the law, even you know that Ed.. But we’ll let em ram the truth down your throat..

    I’m gonna tell all of you liberal scum right now, if anything bad happens to Ammon & Co. you pukes better put your Obama t-shirts on and come into the light, we’ll help ya become maggot free.. If the Hammond’s don’t make it out alive, same deal.. So you be careful what you wish for Ed, you might just get it, only I promise it won’t be quite like you had planned..

    It’s gonna be so funny when they get done with you traitors.. LoL !! Traitor once, not twice.. Maybe you best hit the history books, COMMIES don’t let traitors live, they don’t wanna be looking over their shoulder, ya betrayed your own country, they won’t let you do them.. So you fools done made your beds, now sleep in em..

    • IDIOT COMMENTERS January 12, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      this must be a transcript of the talk kurt gave in sacrement last sunday

      • .... January 14, 2016 at 12:40 am

        Yeah mesaman and nbn Mexican enjoyed themselves.

  • ladybugavenger January 12, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    Trump for President!!!

  • Roy J January 12, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    I”m glad to see that someone at least recognizes the range wars and the historical problem with sharing public lands that prompted (in part) the Taylor Grazing Act in the first place. Nice article, Ed.

    • IDIOT COMMENTERS January 13, 2016 at 1:21 am

      Trump for President!

  • Pam January 13, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    Best article I have read in a long time. I agree with you 100%

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