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When Eminent Domain and Conservation Easements Collide

by Paul Schwennesen In 1993, more than thirteen thousand cubit feet of water per second raced down the San Pedro Valley, washing away farms, drowning livestock, and destroying bridges. Like most of God’s acts, it set in motion a chain of events that left people scratching their heads many years later. In our particular case,Continue reading “When Eminent Domain and Conservation Easements Collide”

New in PERC Reports: Ecosystems at your service

In the fall edition of PERC Reports out this week, James Salzman, professor of law and environmental policy at Duke University, provides an overview of ecosystem services and the conditions under which markets can provide them. Look for more from Salzman on this topic in a forthcoming PERC Policy Series. When visiting a store, one expects toContinue reading “New in PERC Reports: Ecosystems at your service”

What are those green circles? Center pivots in the water market

by Chris Corbin During my last 5 flights, I’ve heard somewhere in the cabin of the plane: “What are those green circles?” The answer is center pivots. Of course, since I work in water marketing, I’m interested in how center pivots impact water rights and water markets. First of all, are center pivots more efficient?Continue reading “What are those green circles? Center pivots in the water market”

Big Meat: A Reaction to the Livestock Convention

by Paul Schwennesen

I squandered a beautiful Colorado morning in CSU’s ballroom yesterday.  Around 2,000 of us were there to provide first-hand testimony to Attorney General Holder and USDA Secretary Vilsack about the growing concerns over consolidation in the meat-packing industry.

While most of us were wearing hats, I noticed an awful lot of them were in hands, not on heads.  Appealing for help to the ‘Suits on the Podium,’ about a third of the audience was unashamedly suggesting that the Government come in and rescue the small family rancher.

Look, I’m as concerned about the demise of a way of life as the next man.  I’m as disgusted with the decrease in cattle prices as anyone else.  I too wish ranchers could make the same returns as thirty years ago.  I don’t like that 80% of the meat-packing industry is in the hands of four conglomerates.  But where I part ways with some of the crowd is in my view of the solutions to these issues.

Asking government to break the back of “Big Meat” is like asking your hangman to pull the next guy’s lever first.

There seems to be an increasingly prevalent view that “something is going on” in the cattle market, that “Big Meat” is brandishing unfair market leverage which screws the little guy.  And don’t get me wrong:  I’d be the first to rally if a Federal probe unearthed findings that Cargill, Tyson, National or JBS was engaged in price-fixing, collusion, or fraud.  But I’m afraid that after 6 hours of public testimony, I got no inkling of such manipulations.  What I got was an inkling that some of us would rather see higher prices for our cattle (no kidding?), that ranchers get  a “fair shake” (whatever that means), and that the big guys open their books to their private transactions to let the rest of us see what’s going on.  These might sound good, but will they really solve the problem?

Free Market Environmentalism and Climate Change

by H. Spencer Banzhaf This year is PERC’s 30th anniversary, and looking back it has many intellectual successes to celebrate, as it has met the challenge of showing how free-market solutions can solve many environmental problems. Looking forward, it will surely have many more successes as it continues to wrestle with new challenges. One ofContinue reading “Free Market Environmentalism and Climate Change”