November 14, 2019

Government spending packed with pork


We all know manure stinks, right? If you don’t, I suggest you visit the nearest doctor to have your nasal passages checked.

Apparently, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, thinks pig excrement doth stinketh too much. As a result, he’s taking “Old MacDonald’s Farm” to an entirely new level of stink.

He wants to spend $8 million of our tax money to study “swine odor and manure management” at Iowa State University. The manure brainstorm started to come out a couple years ago in Iowa when a livestock study committee went on a mission to develop a “comprehensive plan for mitigating livestock odor.” The plan was appropriately dubbed: “Taking Odor Mitigation to the Next Level.”

The stench proposed by Harkin is part of a $410 billion Omnibus discretionary (key word) spending bill under consideration in Congress. This stinky government waste, which rains down on us every year, ties in perfectly with Harkin’s swine song because, as we all know, this bottomless pit is lovingly referred to as “pork barrel” spending.

Proponents of this waste — the big spenders — call the projects “earmarks.”

(Side note: As a farm boy back in the 1950s, it didn’t cost $8 million for manure management and odor control. Each spring, I’d go into the barn where about 50 head of Herefords had hung out all winter, get me a pitchfork, throw the manure on the manure spreader, haul it to the field, spread it and then do it all over again and again and again. My solution to the smell? Tolerance.)

I suppose some will say pig dung smells worse than cow pooh and that it does not make good fertilizer. I can’t say. I didn’t take manure in school.

The pig plan is just the tip of the pitch fork in this year’s congressional pork proposal. Let’s cruise through the barn and see what else gives out a bad odor:

• $200,000 to study tattoo removal in LA. (How about we do a study to advise people not to get tattoos in the first place?)

• $2.2 million for a “Center for Grape Genetics” in New York. (Wow! I don’t think I’ll take my wrath out on these expensive grapes. Get it? Grapes of wrath? Let’s move on.)

• $1.45 million to study Mormon crickets. (Just what are Mormon crickets? They must live in Utah.)

• $1 million for a water treatment plant at North Pole, Alaska. (Can I have my glass of water with ice?)

• $380,000 for “Versailles Borough Stray Gas Mitigation” in Pennsylvania. (There’s that word “mitigation” again. My main worry is doing something about our stray cat problem.)

• 332,000 to build a school walk in Franklin, Texas. (Why can’t them Texan kids ride little piggy to school?)

• $42 million and change for the combined renovations of Washington libraries carrying the names FDR, LBJ and JFK. (After visiting these places, you can drive to Boston and admire the proposed $5.8 million Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate.)

• $238,000 for a Polynesian Voyaging Society in Honolulu. (Does that come with hula dancers?)

• $167,000 for the Autry National Center for the American West in LA. (That would be in honor of cowboy movie star and singer Gene Autry, I presume. What about Roy Rogers and Trigger? Shucks. I forgot the name of Gene’s horse.)

• $300,000 for “Shakespeare & Co.” (To be or not to be…I’m sure it will be.)

• Last but not least: $951,000 for energy efficient street lights in Detroit. (Why waste your energy? Nobody in their right mind would walk the streets of Detroit after dark. Some won’t walk around that place in broad daylight.)

There’s so much more manure out there I couldn’t pitch all of it this week. I’ll meet you here at the pig trough same time next week for more foul odor.

To be continued…

— Jim Grisso, a Roscommon area resident, was publisher of the Gaylord Herald Times for 40 years and has been a newspaper journalist for about 50 years. He can be contacted at


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I confess that I had to do a web search for "ogema" to learn that you are in Minnesota, where you are safe from "Mormon crickets."

I did enjoy the article, and I agree with you and with freshman congressman Jason Chaffetz (R: Utah) about earmarks.

Although no project, however worthy, should be earmarked, I thought your readers might like to know:

"The so-called Mormon cricket (Anabrus simplex) is actually a shieldbacked katydid, and not a cricket at all. Mormon crickets are large insects that can grow to almost three inches in length. They live throughout western North America in rangelands dominated by sagebrush and forbs. The Mormon cricket is flightless, but capable of traveling up to two kilometers a day in its swarming phase, during which it is a serious agricultural pest and traffic hazard."

Traffic hazard? Yes, when squashed they make a road deadly slick!

They are called "Mormon crickets" not because of their religious affiliation, but because in 1848 they nearly wiped out the first crops planted by the Mormon pioneers in Salt Lake Valley. There is a statue on Temple Square to commemorate of the "Miracle of the gulls." California gulls gorged themselves on the "crickets," disgorged, and repeated the act until the crops were saved.

The Boston Globe sheds more light on this particular earmark:

Tracy Hall Jr

Provo Canyon, Utah


Thursday, March 26, 2009 | Report this

PS: The California gull is the Utah state bird.

Thursday, March 26, 2009 | Report this

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