The “Meet Morris, aka Killer the cat” column (Western Farm Press, Dec. 19, 2009) generated a few e-mails and Christmas gift suggestions. All appreciated.

However, there was one “correction” from fellow editor Ron Smith, my counterpart at Southwest Farm Press: “The fact that you can train a dog, but cannot train a cat puts the lie to your notion that a dog is smarter. Cats have better sense than to succumb to dumb human attempts to train them. Train them for what — cheap parlor tricks? Don’t think so. Just consider who has been trained in this scenario. Not the cat, but Harry Cline, previous cat hater, now spender of gigantic sums of money to keep an untrainable animal alive and well.”

Thank you so much, Ron.

Another e-mailer appreciated the light commentary with: “A nice break from the day-to-day dealings with EPA and the constraints and idiotic escapades of California and Western agriculture.”

This comment stuck with me through the Christmas holiday week as – like you – I tried to extricate my mind from the political chaos and bureaucratic morass that seems to ensnare California and its agricultural industry. Of course, the environmental wackos only add to the mess. As I plowed through new e-mails the Monday after Christmas, reality set in again. Before Christmas, The Center for Food Safety (CFS) announced it was renewing its efforts to halt the sale of Roundup Ready alfalfa. After the holiday, two more equally onerous e-mails arrived from my friends at the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and the Center for Biological Diversity.

OTA announced it had launched a new “consumer Web site: Organic. It’s Worth the Effort.” Check it out. First page: “Organic farmers build healthy soils without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides, helping to combat climate change and reduce the toxic load in the environment.” That is a toxic load of manure if I ever read one.

The Center for Biological Diversity announced it was suing the Obama administration for failing to make required findings to determine whether 144 species warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. These species included Tehachapi slender salamander and the Amargosa toad. I did not know Tehachapi had its own salamander, and I am not sure there is an Amargosa. It is obvious that the Center for Biological Diversity does not consider preservation of humans as part of its efforts to achieve biological diversity.

The releases can be comical, like the OTA one that said its campaign seeks to educate consumers about how “organic can be used to ‘check off’ tasks on practical to-do lists as well as goals on aspirational wish lists.” Huh?

I laughed out loud when I read this new Web site replaces OTA’s first consumer Web site entitled “The O’Mama Report.” I took the liberty to name the new Web site, “Oh Brother.”

During my brief holiday respite, I had hopes 2010 would be different and maybe better than 2009 for agriculture. Unfortunately, it seems to be business as usual as farmers and ranchers endure regulatory bureaucracies and environmental nut cakes, while working to feed the world. Fortunately, there may be one thing a little different as 2010 begins. The snow-capped Sierra Nevada on Jan. 1 certainly offers hope for a better water year than 2009. Got to be optimistic to be in agriculture.

email: hcline@farmpress.com