Coastal Post Online


October 2001


Moo Town News

Horse Pucky and B.S.

By Judy Borello

With World War III imminent, you would think the County would be concentrating on more important issues that are crucial to the safety and protection of its people rather than its attack on ranching. Agriculture is very important to the County's coffers and ag needs incentives rather than more restrictions. Between the land grabs, extortion, and the bogus environmental rules and regulations placed upon ag land and ranchers are so severe and unjust that ranchers are pulling out and instead of protecting agriculture, they are burying it.

A proposal recently drafted by County staff would permit no more than one horse per 12 acres and no more than 10 horses on ranches of any size.

These proposals are thought up by people who don't have a lick of sense about ranching and perpetuate false and hypocritical ideology concerning ranching.

"This is ludicrous," said Connie Berto, a director of the Marin Horse Council, "The number is arbitrary and the need for it is totally unsubstantiated." This was quoted in The Point Reyes Light September 20. Supposedly this proposal is a result of the 1996 directive from planning commissioners to study what effect horses have on land zoned for agriculture. What is next? The effect cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens and other farm animals have on ag lands? The Planning Division study estimated that a 1,200 pound horse consumes 1,200 pounds of forage per month, which is what one acre of land produces. According to this theory, one horse would need 12 acres per year.

Bizarre to say the least as horses are supplemented hay and oats most of the time if not all of the time.

Liza Crosse, aide to Supervisor Steve Kinsey, stated that in the unlikely event that this ordinance would pass, the smaller horse ranches that now exist would most likely be grandfathered in as "legal non-conforming" uses.

However, if owners decide to obtain more horses, they would need a use-permit. The issue of use-permits will be considered on a case-by-case basis and that there is no specific criteria for approving a use permit.

Gee, that's great -- run it by some incompetent people who are ignorant to horses, ranching and land usage. Ellie Rilla of the U.C. Extension Service says the ordinance is needed because of the wear and tear caused by horses on ag land. Crosse agreed their hooves churn up soil. Good God, women, get some reality -- goats, cattle, and pigs have hooves too and what is the rancher supposed to do -- put ballerina slippers on all farm animals?

The zoning in Marin considers only the production of food and fiber and this does not include horses.

A rancher needs horses to round up cattle, sheep, etc. They are an important part of agriculture plus the fact that they consume oats and hay, which are a great part of agriculture. When horses get old and have to be put down, their hair is used for padding, their meat for dog food, and their hooves for gelatin or glue, soap, etc. So don't tell me they are not a part of food and fiber.

Bob Berner of MALT said the Marin Agriculture Land Trust supports the county proposal. The Farm Bureau represents agriculture, not MALT, which is a land trust, and most ranchers do not agree with MALT's portraying of the organization as being the agricultural voice of the county. There aren't too many ranchers on the MALT board and it has taken some important stands against the ranching community, such as being a proponent of the Woolsey Park Bill in which 2/3 of the ranching community was against. If it hadn't been for the leadership of Martin Pozzi, we would be in park boundaries now and with MALT gleaming the financial reward of sinking the ranches.

The Marin County Farm Bureau is the voice of agriculture in our county -- legitimately and properly. In San Anselmo, one horse can legally be kept on 15,000 square feet, so what's the deal?

"And there is also the issue of waste," said Liza Crosse.

First of all, horse manure is great for gardens and land revitalization. This is so bogus I can't believe that this county of peacock feathers and hot tubs doesn't have enough on their plate, especially given the traumatic times we are living in, than to restrict horses, which all of us might very well be riding in the not so distant future. People's waste, in this county of elitist, spoiled posturing, should be looked at more closely.

P.S. Ban the horse pucky, then the meadow muffins, road apples, piggy poo, and cow plops, then turn your attention toward the real culprit of our environment -- people and their bullshit!


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