News from the Secretary

News from the Secretary by Larry Gabriel S.D. Secretary of Agriculture How is life on the "buffalo commons?"

Not everyone likes the idea of agricultural development.� Some actively work against it.� Some even think they can turn western South Dakota back into a giant buffalo pasture.

A lot of us tended to laugh it off back in 1987, when a couple named Frank and Deborah, from Rutgers University, claimed the best use for our part of the country was to give it back to the buffalo and let them roam from Mexico to Canada again.

Not everyone was laughing.� Some appear dedicated to making it a reality. The "Society for Ecological Restoration International" is one. The "Honor the Earth" foundation is another.� "The Great Plains Restoration Council" is another, and California television employee, turned buffalo rancher, Sam Hurst and his "Wild Idea Buffalo Company" is another.

You remember Sam! He's the guy who said, "For all our strutting about an 'independent' lifestyle out on the range, the cattle ranchers are one of the most kept groups since the Chinese whores of Deadwood shuffled through underground tunnels from the bars to their tenements."

At first, that upset me a little. I don't like it when people throw around racial remarks. I guess it could have been worse.� He didn't call us "panderers of populist bunk."

I saw another story where Sam opposed putting buffalo in feed lots because: "It strikes me as a violation of the values Frank and Deborah put together," he says. "They imagined restoration."

In another story it was reported that Sam is working on replacing cattle with buffalo on the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, so he can lease 22,000 acres for his buffalo. A wilderness designation could cinch that goal.

It doesn't seem right that a paid employee of a newspaper can use his job to promote his own personal business venture.� I don't know if the motive is personal gain or social agenda, but when he uses his position to bash his personal competition, that's down right unfair.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against buffalo ranching or buffalo ranchers. And I like the idea of people developing new niche markets for unique qualities of our products. I don't even mind if city slickers from California want to dump their dot-com-era profits into new ventures in South Dakota.

However, when someone is intent on putting other producers out of business, and wants to climb over the wreckage of his neighbors for personal gain, and does not care a whit about the people who live here, it's time to stand up and say, "that's not how we do things around here."

I don't know Sam and he may be a fine Californian, but he doesn't sound like one of my neighbors.

Some "nature" movements are little more than socialists trying to break capitalism by taking assets out of production.� If that's what this idea is, they will not win. Our rancher heritage is not for sale.

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