Dole Joins Farm Bureau To Screw Over Family Farmers

UPDATE This just in: A resolution was presented to the NC Farm Bureau in December and will go before the NCFB Board in February 2007 to be voted on.

Be it resolved: The North Carolina Farm Bureau shall solicit full support and direct involvement of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) to defend eastern North Carolina farmers from the U.S. Navy’s proposed Outlying Landing Field (OLF) by providing direct lobbying assistance, elevation to AFBF priority status and to take any other action that is appropriate and effective.

I'll look into this later today, but it looks like the NCFB may be finally getting into gear on this. The February vote will be the test. Let's keep a close eye on it. That said, where the dickens has the Farm Bureau been for the past three years?

Back to our regularly scheduled programming . . .


Over the next couple of days, I'll report on several different angles of how your United States Government is working overtime to screw farmers and destroy the environment in northeastern North Carolina. But before all that, let's focus on the spectacularly miserable performance of the North Carolina Farm Bureau and its likely collusion with own own back-stabbing senior senator, Elizabeth Dole.

The North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation was organized in 1936, with the goal of protecting the interests of farm and rural families across the state. For the first time, an organization would give farmers a unified voice on agricultural issues. Now, as then, N.C. Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization, serving as a legislative advocate for our members at the local, state, national and international levels. From the county courthouse to the halls of Congress, N.C. Farm Bureau provides powerful and effective representation for agriculture and rural communities.

That all may have been true back in 1936, but in 2007 the North Carolina Farm Bureau appears to be just another arm of big business, big money, and the Party of Greed. At a time when the Farm Bureau could have stood strong to support the hundreds of farmers in Washington and Beaufort Counties, they stood silent instead.

One farmer explained it this way:

They told us they couldn't get involved. They said they couldn't take sides. They said the OLF is going to go somewhere and they didn't want to be siding with one group of farmers against another.

To which I say bullshit. If the Farm Bureau's mission is to represent agriculture and rural communities, then they should be up in arms about any government attempt to use eminent domain to condemn farmland. Period.

So why hasn't the NC Farm Bureau been a vigilant protector of the farmers who would be wiped out of business by the US Navy? Take a wild guess:

As we look to 2007 and congressional efforts to reauthorize the Farm Bill, North Carolina's delegation is in a position to have significant impact. In the U.S. House of Representatives, four members from North Carolina serve on the Agriculture Committee, which has jurisdiction over farm policy. Representatives Bob Etheridge and Mike McIntyre will chair important Agriculture subcommittees.

Senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr are also strong advocates of agriculture and understand the importance of this industry to our state's economy.

Why is it that anytime there's a stinky deal going down to screw over people in North Carolina you'll find Liddy Dole's name floating around?

Way back when, back before the Navy had declared Site C as its preferred location for destroying North Carolina farmland, Senator Dole and Senator John Warner had a good thing going as king and queen of military affairs in the US Senate. Plus they really knew how to scratch each other's back. Warner wanted to get a bunch of big, dangerous and super-noisy aircraft out of Norfolk, and Liddy wanted to get those very same planes into Cherry Point, North Carolina, to forestall any threat of base closures in our military-friendly state.

So when the opportunity emerged to assign squadrons of F-18 Super Hornets, Warner and Dole split the deal. NC would get some of the big jets if Dole could make sure there would be no big stink when the Navy proposed to acquire 33,000 acres for a training facility next to a National Wildlife Refuge.

It's not clear whether Dole actually leaned on the the Farm Bureau to butt out - but she surely didn't encourage their involvement. When 400 family farmers asked for help to protect their lives and their farms from the Navy's misguided plans, neither Elizabeth Dole nor NC Farm Bureau did a damn thing to help these good people.

(Dole apparently wrote a letter (wink, wink) to the Navy saying they should consider what the farmers had to say. But the Farm Bureau didn't even do that.)

So the deal was rigged from the get-go. The political fix was in, the Farm Bureau turned a blind eye, the Navy "reverse engineered" its site selection process, and the people who do god's work on the land get screwed again.

For a good summary of the environmental insanity of this proposed deal, see this article in the Independent by Jon Eliston.

Comments

More news from the NO OLF folks

This press release just issued by NO OLF:

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has reported a record number of Snow Geese and Tundra Swans at the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), located just a few miles from the United States Navy’s proposed site for an outlying landing field (OLF).

U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists are counting thousands of birds, and long time resident farmers are amazed at the quantities of birds grazing in their fields. As early in the season as December 7, 2006 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist survey observed a record number of snow geese and tundra swan on the refuge.

Pocosin Lakes, U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist, Wendy Stanton recently states, “In terms of numbers in early December (12/7/06), I observed more tundra swans and snow geese in Pungo Lake than I had ever seen during the nine years as the wildlife biologist at Pocosin Lakes NWR. During an aerial survey conducted on 12/7/06, I observed over 26,000 tundra swans in the Pungo Unit. Later that day, during my routine duties on the refuge, I observed between 75,000 to 80,000 (averaged to 78,000) snow geese flying into and present in Pungo Lake. This was an all time record for snow geese on the refuge at that time of year. The flocks of geese were flying into Pungo Lake by the tens of thousands. During the aerial survey earlier that day, we had only observed 40,000 snow geese. This refuge and the surrounding areas provide crucial roosting and foraging habitat for these birds. The number of ring-necked ducks counted during the 12/19/06 aerial survey was also an all time high of over 12,400 ducks.

In terms of waterfowl numbers, the 2006-07 waterfowl season has been absolutely spectacular. Pocosin Lakes NWR and the other refuges and lands in eastern NC provide essential wintering habitat for 100,000s of migratory waterfowl. This area is an international treasure that should be conserved in perpetuity for the benefit of future generations of wildlife and people.

“As 26,000 tundra swans and 78,000 snow geese have reminded us, the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is an internationally important site for these birds,” said Derb Carter, attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represents the environmental interests in the case against the Navy’s plans for an OLF. “Any thorough analysis done by the Navy will show that its preferred OLF site, with the accompanying an average 87 take offs and landings per day, as well as over 120 decibels of jet noise, will do unmitigated harm to these waterfowl, as well as the pilots and planes using the landing field.”

Eighty percent of the entire eastern population of tundra swans winter in northeastern North Carolina and one quarter of these stay on Pocosin Lakes NWR. The tundra swans and snow geese on the refuge feed in the surrounding agricultural lands, including the site of the proposed OLF. Winter food and habitat are critical to waterfowl to maintain overall fitness for migration and successful reproduction on Arctic breeding grounds.

“You have to see these birds to get the big picture of just how vast the numbers are,” stated local farmer, Jerry Beasley. “Farmers have wheat and old corn fields miles from the proposed fifty square miles the Navy wants to take from us, and the birds are flying to these fields in droves. How much land will the Navy actually need to confiscate in order to starve the birds to keep them from returning to the refuge?”

The proposed landing field would be constructed within 3.5 miles of the Pungo Unit of Pocosin Lakes NWR. Approach, departure, and holding patterns for the proposed OLF would routinely fly over the refuge at low altitudes, posing a risk of bird strikes and potentially leading to waterfowl abandoning the areas altogether. In fact, the Navy’s own rating system classifies the bird collision hazard at the site as “severe” for 50% of the year, prompting the Navy to plan to use “lethal and non-lethal” means to exclude waterfowl from lands surrounding the practice field.

“Jerry is right,” said Jennifer Alligood, Chairwoman of the North Carolinians Opposed to the Outlying Landing Field (No-OLF). “ I have watched the birds this entire winter, fly all day long over the OLF site to feed in fields in my back yard which is located five miles from the land the Navy plans to take. I hear thousands of them feeding at night as well. Why would anyone want to destroy the natural order of things when the Navy has stated and the facts have proven another OLF is unnecessary? What the Navy wants to do to this region is a gross dissolution of ethics and a sad statement of uncontrolled wantonness.”

In December of last year, the Navy conducted its first flyover of the proposed OLF site and experienced the risk of bird strikes first hand. A Navy Super Hornet banked away from a flock of large birds, just missing a collision over the site of the proposed landing field. In addition, hundreds of birds were seen "nose diving" to avoid the jet and other birds in the vicinity, even those much further away, were visibly disturbed and confused by the maneuvers of the plane during the demonstration.

I had lunch with Jennifer Alligood on Monday and saw for myself with nearly 100,000 snow geese and tundra swans look like. I saw several thousand swans feeding on the exact spot where the Navy wants to put one of its airstrips. This must be stopped.

Please write your Congressman today and ask that all appropriations for anything related to Site C be stopped immediately.

I would say write your senators too, but they are obviously part of the problem.

Question...

Is this near the Albermarle Sound?

Isn't there another OLF between Wilmington and Jacksonville?

--
Town Called Dobson - Daily Political Cartoon: Not all is red in rural America!

This proposed or second OLF

is aprox 14 miles south of Albarmarle Sound and about 8 miles Southeast of Plymouth.

There is not an OLF between Willmington and Jacksonville that could handle an F/A-18 jet.

I don't know about another OLF

But there is Cherry Point MCAS in Carteret where the Neuse River flows into the Pamlico Sound and Camp Lejune Marine Base outside of Jacksonville on the New River. Both have airfields, but the counties have wealth unlike Washington. (think poor farmer and little representation). Albemarle Sound is north of Washington County close to where the Navy wants this OLF. The wildlife refuge is south of Washington and Hyde (?) counties.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Not trying to get out of the effort, but

you know the facts. So, why not post a sample letter here. I personally will cut and paste and add my own twist...and use my fax set-up to fax the letter to all of the NC reps and Senators...and a few others as well. Others can copy and paste to their reps using email at Congress.org. What do you think?

Stan Bozarth

Will do.

Probably tonight.

Just wish folks

to realize that this proposed OLF in NE North Carolina will be one of two OLFs to directly support Oceana. NALF Fentress is the other. I wish i could see the documentation for the proposal for reopening NAS Cecil Field, I bet itwill not require two OLFs for operations in Florida. So why is there a need for two OLFs to support the same aircrafts in Virginia. The FEIS has stated that MCAS Cherry Point can support the 2 squadrons of F/A-18 E/F that might go to Cherry Point.

I lived in Virginia Beach when the politicians where fighting to close Cecil Field and move the planes to Virginia. They (Navy and politicians) used terms like synergy and single-sighting for cost cutting and effiecency. Nothing in the move documentation as created by 1993 and 1995 BRAC indicated that a second OLF was needed for these planes at Oceana. So why did Adm. Natter push for the creation of this second OLF in the first place in Oct 2000?

That is the big question, right?

What the hell are they thinking . . . and what the hell are they really up to. It makes no sense whatsoever from any way you slice it.

There's a bigger story behind this. For the Navy to be strong arming farmers, trapping wolves, gagging the FWS, this is really high drama. Something is going on and We the People aren't getting the straight story.

What I dont understand about this second OLF and the big push.

for it, is how is this thing going to fix the noise and encroachment problems around Oceana and Fentress?

Within the supporting documentation, it is stated that Oceana is slated to perform 68,000 FCLP operations in addition to every take-off and landing for the F/A-18 squadrons homeported on the East Coast (ok, under Alternative 6, 2 F/A-18 EF squadrons to Cherry Point, and two F/A-18 CD squadrons are stationed at Beaufort, SC). (FYI, second OLF 31,000 total operations) that make-up the carrier air wings. These 68,000 FCLP operations will happen at Oceana regardless.

So how is this second OLF fixing the primary encroachment issues in Hampton Roads? It is not. This has not been fixed, yet the Navy is willing to steal err, eminent domain up to 30,000 acres of land to support a base that cannot perform the military mission intrusted to it.

The only way this second OLF can help Oceana is if all those flights come to this second OLF. That will increase the noise footprint eminsley(sp) and will probably impact the refugee.

Once this second OLF is inplace, we are going to experience noise events in a larger scale then what the Navy is presenting to us in order to fix the encroachment problems found at Oceana / Fentress. This is the only way to fullfill the promise Adm. Natter made to the people of Hampton Roads back in Oct 2000. And this is still not fixing the encroachment problem, but is moving the training mission away from the encroachment issue, giving the illusion of fixing the encroachment problem.

This is the only way to keep Oceana a viable master jet base. Get the high-density noise events out of Hampton Roads to those people in North Carolina. And Mrs. Dole has bought into this hook, line and sinker.

Mrs. Dole, all you are giving us is alot of noise. The amount of energy you have spent ignoring and dodging the people of NE North Carolina on this issue should have been spent getting real jobs to our area. Oceana is not going anywhere nor are the planes. Start protecting us like we have been asking you since you where elected. Keep this second OLF out of NE North Carolina.

This is the exact right take on this

Somewhere behind the scenes there's a dirty deal going down and the chips being played are the people around Site C, not to mention a hundred thousand wintering birds.

This whole scheme stinks to high heaven.