Val Wagner: Conservation Measure Is A Wolf In Geese Clothing
November is sneaking up on us…which means that it’s time to start thinking about what’s going to happen at the ballot box. And, let me tell you, as a North Dakotan, there’s a few things that have me concerned. Let me take a minute to explain to you one of my largest concerns:
The “Clean Water, Wildlife & Parks Amendment.”
Let me just say, that if it walks like a duck, and talks about ducks, doesn’t mean that it’s good for the ducks.
And it’s not good for North Dakotans, either.
Let’s start off with the obvious: this is a change to our STATE CONSTITUTION. That’s right. We’re to put a “tax” into our state constitution. A bad idea. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes any state can make is putting tax code into the constitution. Why? Because the constitution is meant to be a permanent, living, breathing document…and also not the easiest to change. We need to take any state constitutional amendment seriously. And this doesn’t belong here. Ever.
Second of all, check out the numbers:
- $150,000,000 – the amount the fund would receive per year, right now
- 75% – the amount that MUST be spent each year, according to the amendment
- $2.8 million – the amount that the fund would receive each WEEK, right now
- $4.8 BILLION – the amount the fund would receive in the next 25 years
- $65,000,000 – the amount that ND already provides to conservation through the state legislature
- 13 – the number of members of the advisory board who would provide funding recommendations
- 1 – the number of farmer members on the proposed board
- 0 – the number of spending plans proposed for this constitutionally-mandated fund
I don’t know about you, but those numbers don’t sit well with me.
How does a fund of this magnitude spend $2.8 million each week? Well, I checked out the website for the backers of the amendment…and it was pretty easy to see what the intentions for this money would be: to purchase land.
As the number of farms and ranches in North Dakota dwindles, and the age of farmers and ranchers increase, I cannot help but worry about the future of agriculture. My oldest son has already expressed a lot of interest in farming, yet if he has to compete with an entity that has an unlimited checkbook…well, how can he even begin to compete?
We talk about wanting to see small family farms make a comeback. We talk about wanting to see more young people involved in agriculture. Yeah…we do a lot of talking…but it’s time we put our votes where our mouth is.
Let’s address conservation funding where it should be addressed – legislatively.
I love hunting. I love fishing. I love wildlife.
But I love my farm. I love agriculture. And I love my children.
I’m pretty certain that Little Red Riding Hood’s mother wouldn’t have sent her out to the wolf, had she known what was going to happen. I have no intention of letting the wolf loose on my children’s futures, either.
I’m voting NO on the constitutional amendment.