Farm Credit
Feb 02 2018

Maybe the Russians Did Do It

by Caren Cowan, Executive Director,
New Mexico Cattle Grower’s Association
Read this article & more in New Mexico Stockman Magazine

No, I am not talking about the Presidential Election. News has surfaced that the Russians may well be funding radial environmental groups like Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, 350.org, the Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians, the Rainforest Action Network, Earthworks, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, to name just a few according to Kevin Mooney in a Washington Examiner piece entitled “Environmental group may have to register as foreign agents.”

All of these groups are working to halt the production and use of fossil fuels. Interestingly enough, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters, don’t appear on the list of 400, yet do support the same anti-fossil policy aims and draw from the same pool of financial, investigative reporter Mooney wrote.

“While the media remains largely focused on ongoing investigations into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, the connection between Vladimir Putin’s government and U.S. environmental groups deserves more scrutiny,” Mooney said.

The motivation for Russian interference here is clear. As the congressional letter notes, American ingenuity in the oil and gas industry have significant geopolitical ramifications. Thanks to innovative extraction technologies such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the U.S. now has access to vast reserves of oil and gas previously held to be unrecoverable, he continued. The unexpected energy resource bonanza has dramatically shifted the dynamics of the economic and geopolitical landscape in America’s favor.

From a foreign policy perspective, the U.S. can now export liquefied natural gas to parts of Europe that have been dependent on Putin’s government for their gas. This weakens Putin and puts the U.S. in a stronger position to exert influence, Mooney concluded.

On Bundy…

Everyone in the country seems to have an opinion on Cliven Bundy and his trials (literal) and tribulations with the federal government. Few seem understood the issues involved.

Thankfully a Nevada Federal District Court Judge settled some of the argument quite nicely last month when she dismissed charges against members of the Bundy family with prejudice, meaning these charges can never be filed again. This case involved charge leveled after the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) attempted a roundup several years ago.

It is true that Bundy protested the paying of his grazing fees to the BLM, claiming that it was his county rather than the federal government who should be collecting the fees. Few don’t believe that these fees are owed.

But the actions of the Nevada BLM went WAY over the top. U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro, who first granted a mistrial in the case, said her decision to dismiss the charges was based, in part, on “flagrant prosecutorial misconduct.”

This was at least the third time the Bundy family has been cleared on charges dealing with the federal government. Other cases were in Oregon when members of the family took a stand for an Oregon family who was jailed at the hands of a federal land management agency.

Cliven Bundy was arrested by the feds in Oregon when he went there to visit his sons. He was held in prison until the Nevada court dismissed the charges.

Radical environment groups have used the Bundys as poster boys against ranchers and ranching for some time. One candidate for New Mexico’s Commissioner of Public Lands in 2018 even journeyed to Oregon to protest the Bundys and rally for their arrest.

Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, and who plead no contest to stealing a pair of leather shoes from a WalMart in Silver City, released a statement that accused prosecutors of bungling the case.

“The Bundys rallied a militia to mount an armed insurrection against the government,” according to the statement. “The failure of this case will only embolden this violent and racist anti-government movement that wants to take over our public lands.”

Clearly Mr. Suckling did not pay much attention to the judge’s word in this case.

Meanwhile back in Arizona…

Governor Doug Ducey drew praise for his support and increased funding for the Animal Health & Welfare Inspectors/Officers in Arizona. Livestock inspectors/officers play a vital role for Arizona’s livestock industry assisting in facilitating commerce, and ensuring animal health, among many other duties.

Like the New Mexico Livestock Board, the Arizona Livestock Services field staff are required to inspect livestock for health and identification before they are slaughtered, sold, or shipped. They also respond to stray and ownership dispute calls. In addition to these duties, the officers investigate theft, welfare, and neglect cases.

“We greatly appreciate the service provided by the men and women of the livestock field staff and thank them for their service,” said President Jay Whetten of the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association.

The work of livestock inspectors and officers serves a critical role in the movement of interstate livestock commerce. Due in large part to below‐market compensation rates, the Arizona Department of Agriculture faces a high level of turnover among livestock inspectors and officers. In FY 2017, inspector and officer turnover rates were 21 percent and 29 percent, respectively. “Governor Ducey listened to cattlemen and addressed a serious issue that jeopardized our industry and we greatly appreciate his efforts,” said President Whetten.

Arizona’s Executive Budget includes an increase in funding for a 22 percent pay increase to retain livestock officers and inspectors. The Arizona Cattle Growers’ urge the legislature to include this funding increase during their budget process.

“We believe this funding will help shape a solid foundation for the future of the Animal Health and Welfare Inspection System,” stated President Whetten. 

No Fun

From time to time, we hear that the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) and other trade organizations are no fun. All we ever talk about are the problems facing agriculture and there is rarely anything new and exciting on our horizon.

Well, for many, making a difference is fun. Making headway to be sure that agriculture retains the use of water in the face of the federal water grab called Waters of the U.S. is fun. Keeping legislation that is harmful to agriculture from becoming law is fun… at least some of the time, is fun.

As for those new programs, have you heard about the Cattlegrowers’ Foundation’s Raising Ranchers program. Agriculture production does have an aging population, New Mexico’s is older than most.

At the same time working in production agriculture is back in vogue. Wealthy folks have been buying up land as investment for some time. There are few places safer than land to store money. More power to them.

However, this practice continues to make getting into agriculture impossible. Additionally, fewer and fewer mentors around to provide the knowledge the school of hard knocks can teach.

The Foundation is aiming to match young (or the young at heart) who want to work the land with those who no longer have the ability to do so. How the relationship is developed will take many forms suited to the exact needs of the parties involved. If you have interest, please contact the NMCGA at 505/247-0584 or email nmcga@nmagriculture.org.

Really No Fun

What really isn’t any fun is losing those who have laid the ground work for the rest of us to travel. We have been blessed by them. Please take a moment to look the In Memoriam pages and say a prayer of thanks for having them in our lives and a pray for the families who are learning how to get along without them.

Texas and New Mexico and Water

As New Mexico sits on the brink of another water war in the courts with neighboring Texas, word in the Roundhouse is there is opportunity to settle without the cost and risk of the court — but some New Mexico leaders are not taking advantage of that ability. The culprit may be the Attorney General’s office.

This is an issue that requires immediate attention to reach a solution that will benefit New Mexicans.

A Saturday Rant

It is tough to negotiate with those who do refuse recognize that each of us has a right to exist and to pursue the work and recreation of choice.

For a Saturday afternoon a month over the past few months NMCGA and others have been sitting with the anti-trapping contingent at the direction of a legislative memorial to find “common ground.” The first meeting brought out representatives from most of the environment groups in New Mexico, including Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians, Animal Protection of New Mexico, Southwest Environmental Center, Sierra Club and more.

Many of those groups made clear at the onset that they would be promoting anti-trapping legislation no matter what came of this group. Although this defeats the purpose of the meetings, some decided to continue to try and work in good faith. After the third meeting, for me, enough may enough.

At the beginning of the meeting the facilitator always asks everyone to introduce themselves along with some tidbit of information that may allow us to know more about each other and maybe see one another in a more cooperative light.

Guess again. At the January meeting the assignment was to tell something about what we had learned about others in the group. Bad mistake.

The woman from the Sierra Club was first called upon. She opened by saying that what she had to say wasn’t nice and it was terribly disappointing to her.

She went on to say that she had learned that the “other side”… us …didn’t care about wildlife. Things went downhill from there.

How do you work with that?      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, February 2018
Jan 01 2018

New Year Resolution

by Caren Cowan, Executive Director,
New Mexico Cattle Grower’s Association
Read this article & more in New Mexico Stockman Magazine

I have complained so much about the national news that I finally think it’s time to swear off it completely for the foreseeable future. I find that I can rarely can sit for 30 minutes watching without shouting at the screen at least once. And it is usually more than that.

We took a break for Christmas which meant I was home for the 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. CBS and ABC evening news show for several days in a row. The normal get home time usually misses one if not both the shows.

One recent evening CBS was all over the coming demise of the Affordable Health Care Act. They interviewed a poor women in Austin, Texas who has suffered from breast cancer. She is nearly hysterical because she doesn’t know if she still has health care coverage. You can bet that the “popular” new media had a big fat hand in the confusion and hysteria.

I don’t how many times I heard Nancy Pelosi tell the world that 100,000 people would die in the United States as a direct result of the tax reform bill passed and signed before Christmas. I know pretty much nothing about this tax bill.

It may be good, it may be bad. Probably it will be a little of both. But I feel pretty confident that there won’t be 100,000 people die because they won’t be forced to pay a tax penalty any more for not being able to purchase insurance.

There is no doubt that our nation is facing a health care crisis. The word is that because of Medicaid and the deal New Mexico entered into that our state will be hit hard by this new bill. On the other hand the agriculture media is talking about how good it is. The Death Tax was not repealed, but the deductions were doubled.

The tax bill is supposed to be about helping families. Unfortunately it appears that large families may take a hit. While the individual deduction was doubled to $12,000, while married couples’ deduction will go up to $24,000. With this increase the personal deduction of $4,000 per person was eliminated. The family with five children will exchange $28,000 in deductions for $24,000.

Back to the news…

The ABC news was much more truthful about what really happens to Obama Care in terms of what the tax bill does.

Then there are just silly people on the news. On another evening one channel was doing a follow up on Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Texas near Houston. The first part of the story was an middle-aged woman with gray hair screeching that she didn’t know how to recover from the storm. Her statement was something like “Nobody gave me a friggin’ kit on hurricane survival.”

The other half of the story was about a younger woman who, as soon as the storm cleared, pitched a tent and started cooking. She is still cooking and has many more tents. She says that fewer people are coming, but she is still feeding upwards of 1,000 people per day. No kit required.

That pretty much sums up life. We can wait for the kit or get on with it.

ESA

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher…

Following an extensive review of the southwestern willow flycatcher’s status, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has confirmed the subspecies is a valid, unique taxon, and therefore it will remain protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Service was prompted to reconsider this migratory songbird’s endangered status when petitioned by industry groups to delist the subspecies in 2015. The petition presented information challenging the subspecies’ classification and argued that the southwestern willow flycatcher is not a valid subspecies listable under the ESA. In addition the petition asserted the southwestern willow flycatcher was no longer subject to a variety of threats identified when the Service listed the subspecies.

An exhaustive review of the best available scientific information from the U.S. Geological Survey, species experts, state and federal agencies, taxonomic organizations, and the Service’s Conservation Genetics Program’s critical review, led to the conclusion that the southwestern willow flycatcher is a subspecies protectable under the ESA.

Additionally, current threats and the status of the southwestern willow flycatcher were evaluated. The Service’s finding confirms that although some populations have made considerable progress toward recovery, the subspecies and its riparian habitat are experiencing substantial threats; the southwestern willow flycatcher still warrants protection as an endangered species.

The 5¾-inch flycatcher breeds and rears its chicks in late spring and through the summer in dense vegetation along streams, rivers, wetlands, and reservoirs in the arid Southwest. It migrates to Mexico, Central and possibly northern South America for the non-breeding season. The most recent flycatcher range-wide assessment (2012) estimated a population of only 1,629 breeding territories – locations where a male sings to attract a mate.

The finding, including the full status assessment, is available at: www.fws.gov/southwest/es/arizona

Source: US Fish & Wildlife Service

Dusky gopher frog…

The case highlights the danger ESA poses to people’s property rights, which are guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The ESA is arguably the most powerful environmental law in the nation. As written, it takes precedence over all other laws and requires the secretary of the interior to protect each endangered species—animals, insects, and plants—regardless of the costs.

Even a cursory evaluation of the Constitution reveals the federal government is not sanctioned to protect endangered species. Nowhere will you find the words “species,” “wildlife,” “animals,” “plants,” or “insects” in the Constitution. And if the government isn’t explicitly delegated a specific power in the Constitution, the exercise of that power is, according to the Constitution’s own provisions, supposed to be left to the states or the people therein.

In complete opposition to the Constitution, Congress decades ago circumvented these limits and argued it has the power to protect species under the interstate commerce clause, a ridiculous fiction the U.S. Supreme Court permitted the government get away with.

Few cases show the need to overturn ESA—or, at the very least, substantially circumscribe the government’s power under it—than the case of the dusky gopher frog.

In 2001, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) listed the dusky gopher frog as an endangered species. At the time, only 100 adult frogs were known to exist in the wild, all in Mississippi. In response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, in 2011, FWS designated 6,477 acres stretching across Louisiana and Mississippi as “critical habitat” for the frog, thereby giving the agency the power to limit the uses of the land to help the species recover.

While this might on the surface seem within the intended purpose of ESA, there is a unique hitch in this case: The frog does not exist on the 1,544 acres of private land in Louisiana, has not existed there since 1965, and in its current condition, the land is not suitable for the frog’s inhabitation or survival. In other words, there ain’t no frogs there, and they can’t live there unless the landowners make costly changes to the land to make it suitable for the frogs.

FWS said it would allow the property owners to develop 40 percent of their property if they undertook changes to alter the remaining 60 percent to make it suitable habitat for the frog, estimating the required changes would cost the landowners $20.4 million. FWS said it would also allow owners to leave property in its current state, but by doing so, FWS would not allow any development, costing landowners $33.9 million in lost value. Talk about government extortion!

Forest products company Weyerhaeuser and other private landowners in Louisiana challenged FWS’s Louisiana critical habitat designation, and 18 states and a number of business groups—including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Mining Association, National Association of Home Builders, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce—backed their challenge.

Inexplicably, by a vote of eight to six, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit allowed FWS’s critical habitat designation to stand. As Fifth Circuit Judge Priscilla Owen noted in her dissenting opinion, FWS’s action was “unprecedented and sweeping” … “[It] re-writes the Endangered Species Act.”

Weyerhaeuser and the other landowners are currently petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal of this case, and ultimately to overturn it. The Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision about whether to hear the appeal in January.

Let’s be clear what is at stake here: The dusky frog is not in commerce, much less interstate commerce, so the federal government should not have jurisdiction over the frog or the property/habitat in question in the first place. Perhaps more importantly to the general public is the fact that if FWS’s habitat designation is allowed to stand, it would be the first time ever an endangered species’ critical habitat designation included private land in which the species does not and cannot exist in the land’s current condition.

This is critically important, because under FWS’s expansive critical habitat designation, no person’s property is safe from being declared critical habitat for some endangered species; the government could force each and every one of us to expend resources to make our properties suitable for one “endangered” species or another.

Sound far fetched? Consider this: There are currently more than 1,650 species listed as endangered in the United States—with listings in all 50 states and the District of Columbia—but less than half, only 742 of them, have had critical habitat designated for their recovery. In addition, FWS has hundreds of ESA listing decisions pending, each of which would require the designation of critical habitat. And for those species without critical habitat, FWS has already stated future designations “will likely increasingly use the authority to designate specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing.”

For the sake of our liberty, our property, and the sanctity of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court needs to overturn this gross expansion of federal power over private property. Whether the Supreme Court acts or not, President Donald Trump needs to direct Ryan Zinke, secretary of the interior, to overturn FWS’s novel, new critical habitat rule—a rule developed under the Obama administration—henceforth limiting critical habitat designations to land that is actually existing habitat for a species.

Finally, Congress needs to get off its collective duff and revise the ESA to ensure when species need private property to survive, the owners are justly compensated for the public service they are providing when their property uses are limited, as required under the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.

Source: H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. (hburnett@heartland.org) is a senior fellow on energy and the environment at The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.   

Source: New Mexico Stockman, January 2018 
Dec 02 2017

What are your top ten priorities for you in our country?

by Caren Cowan, Executive Director,
New Mexico Cattle Grower’s Association
Read this article & more in New Mexico Stockman Magazine

I can tell at least five that are not on my list…

  • Russian involvement in the 2016 election
  • What Hillary Clinton did over the past 20 years
  • Whether or not Secretary of State called the President a moron
  • The perceived global sexual assault on women
  • Gun control

It is difficult to stomach the media’s obsession with these and numerous other such issues that have little to do with the future of our country, the security of our families, and the ability of our country to provide food and energy for ourselves. The issues today that should be at the top of the news are tax reform and a health care system that is effective and efficient without government single-payer.

Since I am probably already in someone’s doghouse, let me explain. On Russians and the election, to quote Hillary Clinton “What difference does it make? It’s over.” Of course such tampering needs to be stopped in future elections, I shudder to imagine how much time and money has been spent in accessing blame rather than addressing the problem. Shouldn’t all of this airtime and these hearings be better directed in educating tax payers and voters on what proposed legislation actually says so they can advise their elected officials on what they want to happen?

The only education and information currently being provided is one-sided and biased shouting to suit one side or the other. Perhaps if we knew what we were talking about the conversation and results were be more beneficial for everyone on every side.

As much as some people hate it, Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 general election. No matter how much time she spends on television and radio, or how many people want it to, that isn’t going to change. It is also crystal clear that if she did anything wrong, and I am not judging, there is no will to address any wrong doing. Let’s get on with life for goodness sake.

It seems pretty clear to me that Rex Tillerson did not call Donald Trump a moron. In the business world that Tillerson comes from that isn’t productive and just isn’t done. The media continues to point out that he never denied it. I watched that interview months ago. What Tillerson said was that the question didn’t even merit an answer.

White House leakers and the media continue to feed on the issue and as late as today (Nov. 30) it was brought up again. There are people who would like to see Tillerson gone for whatever reason and they are going to beat this dead horse for some time to come.

It is truly sad that we live in a society where women even have to be concerned about sexual harassment and assault. Not every cowboy knows better than that, but I bet the percentage is about 99. Thus far it looks like the perverts who are being accused of these offenses are people in power including but not limited to movie producers and actors, media stars and elected officials. But I bet most men who have ever had any interaction with a woman are rethinking whether or not they inadvertently stepped out of bounds ever in their lives.

Unfortunately what is perceived as harassment or assault by one person may not be viewed that way by others, including women. It seems there is no limitation on how far back people can go to claim harm, potentially ruining a life and family, with absolutely no proof. My guess is that there are very few of us that didn’t do something in the past that we wouldn’t even think about today with maturity a continuing process.

Finally, these harassment and assault allegations are sexist in of themselves. Surely there are some predatory women who have forced themselves on men.

I have long thought that there are not nearly enough mirrors in our world today. Why else would someone walk out of their abode dressed in some outrageous and/or way too revealing outfit?

Clearly women’s rights are important, but there are responsibilities that accompany those rights.

The whole issue of gun control is one that will be debated forever with a great deal of appropriate passion and reasoning. From my perspective gun control will not stop the mentally ill or terrorists who are bent doing great harm in the shortest time possible.

There are too many guns in the world to collect and destroy. If someone wants a gun of any kind, there is somebody there to sell one to them legally or illegally. There are lots of things that are illegal that are regularly trafficked. Illegality has worked really well with drugs.

Another consideration is where you live. Maybe those folks on the left coasts don’t want or need a gun. However, if you live in rural areas where there constant threats from predators, snakes and other critters, you need a gun.

I will never forget when Pete Gnatkowski testified before then Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt in 1994. Pete told him that in the West, we send our kids to school with guns, not condoms.

I am not sure Mr. Babbitt got that statement on society even back then.

We need to take a hard look at mental health care in this country. A deliberate decision was made at sometime in the past, that the mentally ill are not too big a problem and basically turned them into the street. There they become a law enforcement problem. Law enforcement is not trained mental health professionals and often outcomes are tragic.

So, we as a society persecute and prosecute that, rather than looking deeper to the real problem.

Maybe if we devoted our country’s time to economic security, education, the deepest health care needs, food and energy security and the broad issues that are undermining the ability to envision a brighter future we would be happier people.

Then there are those who have way too much time on their hands

Chickenrunrescue.org has declared that there is “no such thing as a harmless egg.”  In their preface of a two-part series on the subject says:

Daily egg laying in domesticated hens is biologically unnatural and unsustainable. All domesticated hens have been manufactured for this trait by genetic modification and selective breeding. By the age of 2 years, domesticated hens begin to develop reproductive problems and cancers from incessant egg laying and it ultimately kills them. It is a protracted and horrible death. People who think eggs are a benign gift from the birds, battery or backyard, need to understand their real cost.

Cleaning Up at Interior

Rob Bishop, Utah Republican, and chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, had this to say in late November in the Washington Post.

Transformation means that you’re really fundamentally changing the way the organization thinks, the way it responds, the way it leads. It’s a lot more than just playing with boxes. It’s clear that the Interior Department needs such a transformation.

While the Interior Department employs less than one-fifth the number of employees at IBM today, the department is facing an equally crucial juncture and an opportunity to shed its bloated, antiquated and bureaucratic ways. It’s apparent that my former colleague who now leads the department, Ryan Zinke, agrees.

The Interior Department is one of the most vital federal agencies, overseeing more than 400 million acres of federally owned land, 26 percent of which is in 11 western states. In case you’re wondering, 400 million acres is about one-fifth of all the land in the United States or approximately four times the size of California. The department and its agencies have diverse missions and responsibilities that include everything from running our nation’s cherished national parks to managing offshore energy resources on 1.7 billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf.

Despite the importance of the department’s work, its ever-expanding missions have fueled a decline in its ability to provide efficient, effective and transparent service to the American public. In fact, the Government Accountability Office identified several “mission critical” functions within the department — the management of oil and gas resources and Interior programs that serve tribes — to be high-risk areas for “fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement or the need [of] transformation.”

I agree with the Government Accountability Office. The department has fallen behind in carrying out some of its basic statutory responsibilities, including responsible management and development of our nation’s natural resources.

We’ve seen federal coordination with states and local land managers deteriorate, often resulting in distrust and poor resource management. For example, resource management plans, created by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), are designed to delineate how federal lands will be managed and how those objectives can square with state and local needs. Contrary to their very purpose, these plans have become restrictive and unproductive, and the agency’s mandate for sustained yield and multiple use management has been essentially ignored as a result.

The lack of accountability for serious misconduct by Interior officials further complicates these issues. Several high-profile cases of misconduct have come to light in recent years, ranging from sexual harassment within the ranks of the National Park Service to the brazen abuse of authority by BLM Special Agent Dan Love. A pattern has emerged demonstrating a reluctance by senior department officials to discipline and hold federal employees accountable for their wrongdoing. I’m encouraged to see the department beginning to open its eyes to reports of misconduct and impose real consequences on those found responsible.

As Congress and the department consider reforms to address problems within the agency, the first step should be to bring decision-making and leadership back to the communities where Interior’s policies and work impacts citizens the most — the western United States. The western states include large swaths of federally managed land, such as in my home state of Utah, where about 65 percent of all land is owned by the federal government. There is no doubt that we need increased state and local input and federal management that is responsive to the needs of communities. After years of systemic dysfunction and mismanagement at the department, true change is long overdue.

A shift away from the current Washington-centric management system toward a contemporary decentralized model that prioritizes accountability, transparency and service to the American people must occur. A primary responsibility of Congress is to conduct oversight of the executive branch. The Natural Resources Committee has a critical role overseeing the Interior Department’s reorganization efforts, and I look forward to reviewing the specifics of Mr. Zinke’s plans. Together, we have an opportunity to not just move organizational boxes, but to transform the way the department responds to the American people it serves.

I agree with the Government Accountability Office. The department has fallen behind in carrying out some of its basic statutory responsibilities, including responsible management and development of our nation’s natural resources. Despite this being among the department’s most basic functions, costly and duplicative bureaucratic policies have slowed resources development, leading to an $8 billion decline in royalties during the past four years. This inefficiency ultimately shortchanges the American taxpayer.

We’ve seen federal coordination with states and local land managers deteriorate, often resulting in distrust and poor resource management. For example, resource management plans, created by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), are designed to delineate how federal lands will be managed and how those objectives can square with state and local needs. Contrary to their very purpose, these plans have become restrictive and unproductive, and the agency’s mandate for sustained yield and multiple use management has been essentially ignored as a result.

The lack of accountability for serious misconduct by Interior officials further complicates these issues. Several high-profile cases of misconduct have come to light in recent years, ranging from sexual harassment within the ranks of the National Park Service to the brazen abuse of authority by BLM Special Agent Dan Love. A pattern has emerged demonstrating a reluctance by senior department officials to discipline and hold federal employees accountable for their wrongdoing. I’m encouraged to see the department beginning to open its eyes to reports of misconduct and impose real consequences on those found responsible.

As Congress and the department consider reforms to address problems within the agency, the first step should be to bring decision-making and leadership back to the communities where Interior’s policies and work impacts citizens the most — the western United States. The western states include large swaths of federally managed land, such as in my home state of Utah, where about 65 percent of all land is owned by the federal government. There is no doubt that we need increased state and local input and federal management that is responsive to the needs of communities. After years of systemic dysfunction and mismanagement at the department, true change is long overdue.

A shift away from the current Washington-centric management system toward a contemporary decentralized model that prioritizes accountability, transparency and service to the American people must occur. A primary responsibility of Congress is to conduct oversight of the executive branch. The Natural Resources Committee has a critical role overseeing the Interior Department’s reorganization efforts, and I look forward to reviewing the specifics of Mr. Zinke’s plans. Together, we have an opportunity to not just move organizational boxes, but to transform the way the department responds to the American people it serves.      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, December 2017 
Nov 04 2017

Low Hanging Fruit…

by Caren Cowan, Executive Director,
New Mexico Cattle Grower’s Association
Read this article & more in New Mexico Stockman Magazine

Let’s begin this month with the low hanging fruit. Last month I took some pleasure out of creating a “scoping document” on how NFL footballs teams shouldn’t be concentrated in a handful of states and why New Mexico should have one. The analysis I did, albeit it only took me an hour or so, was very similar to what government at all levels currently does on just about any action they are contemplating — including what color the City of Albuquerque is going to paint overpasses.

Almost before the ink dried, the NLF and its teams became the focus of more national debate about a bunch of millionaires, who are creating billions for billionaires, disrespecting our country and our flag during the opening ceremonies of football games. I understand that these players are trying to make a statement. There are much better ways to make that statement.

Our country, collectively, is not their problem. The problem seems rooted in many people in our country who have lost the will to rise themselves up and instead are falling into an abyss of drugs, crime, fatherless families and welfare dependency. There is where the efforts must be directed, maybe by some of those millions the players are taking home and those billions the owners are taking home. 

There are numerous players who are doing great things for their communities and working with youth in the quest of better futures. They are to be commended. J.J. Watt with the Houston Texans raised over $37 million for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Clearly it is the poor who were impacted the most by the recent hurricanes. Those are the folks who don’t have the funds to upgrade their homes to assist with limiting disaster damage, who don’t have any place to go or any way to rebuild in the aftermath.

Little thought is given among the non-agriculture producing world to the losses that agriculture suffered in both Hurricane Harvey and Irma. Texas A & M AgriLife Extension Service estimates that Texas agriculture suffered over $200 million in losses while the Palm Beach Post reports that Florida agriculture suffered over $2.5 billion in losses. You didn’t hear any of this in the national news and you can bet that it is pretty much fellow ag producers who are donating to help their fellow agriculturists.

The NFL needs to put their money where their knees are and help lift folks up — not be disrespectful to the great country that has allowed them to become millionaires and billionaires.

The television networks carrying NFL games have solved their problems by not sharing the pre-game ceremonies taking away the impact of the protests for 10s of millions of fans. Unfortunately those same network news divisions didn’t get the message and are still showing the disrespect in the news.

Now, for the elephant in the room

Our country saw another horrific act of terrorism take place in New York City yesterday, just 30 days after tremendous loss of life and injury in Las Vegas, Nevada. Eight lives were senselessly lost while another 11 will have their lives changed forever. Not just from the trauma of being a victim but from the loss of limbs and other serious injuries.

The evil at work there was even worse because the attacker targeted children. There were three schools in the area of the attack all letting students out at the time. Ultimately, the attacker crashed into a school bus injuring children and adults.

It seems clear that while it may be a lone individual was responsible for the NYC attack, he didn’t dream up this plot all by himself. Yet many public officials are still calling this a “lone wolf” attack this morning. We have seen such attacks around the world. This is all coordinated by somebody somehow and single individuals are carrying them out. There is a big difference.

Again the “popular” television news perpetrated “fake” news last night by calling the weapons the NYC attacker brandished after exiting the truck “fake” guns. The earliest reports indicated that the guns were bee bee, pellet and/or paint ball guns. None of these items are fake and, although perhaps not life-threatening, do carry a punch.

We are now being told that there is very little that law enforcement can do to prevent these kinds of attacks… ya think? We are in a world where everyone is responsible for their own safety. We must be aware of our surroundings at all times with a plan in mind on how we are going to save ourselves and our families.

And, oh by the way, Home Depot probably should review its truck rental policies to keep their fleet off the street. Trucks kill people.

Las Vegas

The killing of 58 and the injury of 489 others seems like a distant memory in the wake of yesterday’s events, but it will never be distant for those who were present at the Country Music concert. While in a month little has been found to precipitate that attack, it may not have been a foreign attacker, it was a terrorist act aimed at a specific group of people, in this case Country Music fans.

Among the first interviews of those at the concert was one with a young man who noted that it was a good thing it was Country Music fans because among those fans were lots of military, law enforcement officers and first responders who ran toward those in need of aide, and not away, saving countless lives. I couldn’t agree more.

But it didn’t take long for the liberal haters to make Country Music and its fans the target of vile comments. One network news vice president and senior legal counsel was fired after she criticized some victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting as “Republican gun toters” who did not deserve sympathy. She also wrote on Facebook that she had no hope that Republicans — whom she called “Repugs” — would ever take action and “do the right thing” if they didn’t do anything when children were murdered, an apparent reference to the December 2012 Sandy Hook shooting.

Hillary Clinton took heat for issuing what critics called an “ignorant” and “irrelevant” statement going after the National Rifle Association (NRA) and silencers in the hours after the Las Vegas mass shooting. As details were still emerging about the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history – which killed at least 58 people – the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee took to Twitter to imagine how much deadlier the massacre might have been if silencers had been used.

“The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get,” she tweeted, adding: “Our grief isn’t enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again.”

One not-so-popular anti-gun media outlet was quick to criticize popular media saying “White killers are often humanized.” In a later article that same outlet criticized the media and the nation for continuing to focus on this one mass killing, writing “The nation mourned when 58 people were killed and more than 500 injured in the hail of bullets on Oct. 1 in Las Vegas. The scope of the violence was breathtaking, incomprehensible. But since then, more than 2,738 people have been shot in the U.S., according to data collected by the Gun Violence Archive. A reported 840 of them died.”

Closer to home

In what may not be terrorism, there is yet another attack on the segment of New Mexico society that is engaged putting food on tables in the state, nation and world. The Department of Workforce Solutions has determined that there is no such thing as “day labor.” It is their assertion that anyone who is employed by anybody, even if it is just for an hour, must be treated as an “employee.”

The Department auditor, who grew up on a farm and lives in a rural community but has no ties to agriculture since then, made the determination that there is no such thing as day labor. She based her decision on the fact that day work cowboys do not carry business cards, do not produce written invoices to ranches, do not sign a contract with ranches, and that these cowboys didn’t produce a list of all the ranches they worked as day labor. She refused to consider that these cowboys provide all of their own equipment and transportation and are trained in the skills necessary for the job with no input from the rancher

The matter is under appeal and a ruling from the administrative hearing officer is expected at anytime. If this ruling is not favorable, there are several more levels of appeals that can be pursued. Stay tuned.

A question from the hearing office during a telephonic hearing that took over six hours over two days was unnerving to say the least. After hearing about the economic consequences to New Mexico agriculture of doing away with day labor, the officer asked if ranchers were subject to capitalism where the ones who could survive would those who couldn’t wouldn’t.

My answer was that ranchers and farmers are price takers not setting and that this country had determine it would operate under a cheap food policy in the 1930s. Laws were enacted at that made it possible for agriculturists to survive. This has been forgotten and agriculture has no way to survive without these considerations.

Keith Gardner’s better answer is that of course we should operate under capitalism, but nothing in this country works that way because of government interference.

Another one bites the dust

One of the nation’s last large agricultural lenders, Rabobank has gotten in bed with the enemy.

It never ceases to amaze me that business and big business doesn’t understand that feeding alligators will keep them from biting you.

With the signing of a global partnership agreement in March 2017, Rabobank has joined forces with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) “to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable economy – one within the bounds of the planet’s ecological limits.”

A quick internet search reveals that the WWF believes that agriculture is important, but it only works if you do it THEIR way. Their ag statement reads:

Agriculture is the world’s largest industry. It employs more than one billion people and generates over $1.3 trillion dollars worth of food annually. Pasture and cropland occupy around 50 percent of the Earth’s habitable land and provide habitat and food for a multitude of species. When agricultural operations are sustainably managed, they can preserve and restore critical habitats, help protect watersheds, and improve soil health and water quality. But unsustainable practices have serious impacts on people and the environment. The need for sustainable resource management is increasingly urgent. Demand for agricultural commodities is rising rapidly as the world’s population grows. Agriculture’s deep connections to the world economy, human societies and biodiversity make it one of the most important frontiers for conservation around the globe.

Notice they don’t mention that agriculture feeds the world and that food availability and quality is key to the survival of the human species.

Rabo and the WWF don’t plan on just making agriculture “sustainable,” they are bold enough to claim that they can create “more sustainable finance sector.” As part of the partnership, Rabobank and WWF intend to show how the financial sector can be transformed and prompt businesses to invest in more sustainable business practices.

The partnership is specifically aimed at the international food and agribusiness sectors, with goals of increasing production efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions and water consumption. WWF and Rabobank will set up projects that will demonstrate that sustainable enterprise genuinely produces added economic value for both the environment and local populations, and for companies and financiers active within food and agricultural chains in sectors such as sugarcane, cacao and fisheries.

In addition, both partners aim to raise awareness among consumers about how they can contribute to a green economy by opting for sustainable financial products and services.

I guess it is too much to hope that an agricultural lender would understand agriculture and the challenges ranchers and farmers face today, even though they are funding these folks. Instead of putting their money where it would do agriculture its producers some good and thus all humans who depend on agriculture for survival, they are giving it to an organization whose website is devoted to begging for donations.

Despite all that begging, the WWF site says the group’s goal is to drive powerful and influential partnerships, innovative solutions, sustainable financing, in-depth monitoring and large-scale mobilization of people. From numerous initiatives, priority areas and priority species, the entire WWF Network will focus on six major goals –forests, oceans, wildlife, food, climate & energy, and freshwater – and three key drivers of environmental problems – markets, finance and governance. Without extensive searching, I don’t even know what that means, but the WWF certainly hasn’t been a friend to agriculture in New Mexico.      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, November 2017 
Sep 30 2017

Loss of a true friend …

by Caren Cowan, Executive Director,
New Mexico Cattle Grower’s Association
Read this article & more in New Mexico Stockman Magazine

Pete Domenici was a friend to New Mexico ranchers, farmers and countless others. Even more, he was a friend to me.

Most of you have never been to my office or will likely ever have a need to. But if you were here, you would find the room filled (maybe overfilled) with files and piles, boxes and books. The walls are pretty much covered with photos and other mementos. There is a brand throw from the CowBelles over the chair that doesn’t have a box in it and Mattie Cowan’s Cowbelle dress that was made for parades and other events somewhere between 1939 when The Cowbelles was founded and 1941 when we have the first photos of her in it. And, yes the 18” emasculators still sit on the desk, sometimes covered by paper, but ready when needed for emphasis.

There are eight photos on the walls; six of them have Pete Domenici in them. Five are from various trips to Washington, D.C. over the past 20 years. There was a Wool Growers trip; a in 2002 when several ranchers from northern New Mexico joined Mike Casabonne and me on trip back to demand that the Carson and Santa Fe National Forests be reopened to grazing after an arbitrary and capricious decision attempted to remove all grazing from those forests. (They were.) There is one when we gathered up John and Frank Falen, from Nevada and Wyoming respectively, to navigate Capitol Hill with us. Senator Domenici always called a photographer into his office at the end of a meeting.

There is the last one where the Cattle Growers, the Wool Growers, and the Federal Lands Council gave the Senator a silver-belly hat for his ride into retirement and the future. That picture is especially special because it contains past Wool Growers President Ron Merritt Jr., our dear departed Mary Skeen, then Cattle Growers’ President Alisa Ogden and then Federal Lands Council President Mike Casabonne along with the Senator and his winning smile.

The sixth one is the biggest and has an even longer story behind it. In 1996, after the demise of the Wool Act meant there were no longer funds for the Wool Growers to keep me, I went home to Arizona and ran for the Cochise County Board of Supervisors. Bob Dole and I shared a crying towel the night of that election.

My only nephew, R. W. (Dub), was five years old at the time. He spent his summer helping me with signs, handing out fliers at gatherings and riding in parades to help Auntie get elected. For his troubles he was reprimanded in his kindergarten class on Election Day for jumping up and saying “Vote for Auntie!” when the teacher brought up the subject up.

The day after the election in the winding down process, I was at my sister’s house for dinner. Dub and I were at odds over the television controls. He had had enough of news programs and adult stuff to last him a lifetime. As he was surfing channels he flipped by one where Senator Domenici was being interviewed on the outcome of the election. I asked Dub to go back to that channel because Auntie’s friend was on it. He grumbled “not your friend” as he grudgingly went back to the channel.

After I moved back to New Mexico and went to work for Cattle Growers in mid 1997, one of the first opportunities I had for an important meeting was one with Senator Domenici. His staff wanted to meet at the Cattle Growers just to get him out of his office.

The NMCGA Board Room is a perfect place for all kinds of meetings. One wall is covered entirely with pictures of past presidents back to 1914. I can sit with that wall to my back feeling all the power of those men brought to bear in New Mexico for then nearly a century behind me. I would imagine that the sight might be just a little intimidating. It certainly gives me confidence.

When the meeting finished, I ask the Senator if he had just a moment for a picture of just he and me so I could send it to Dub to prove that Pete Domenici was indeed my friend. He kindly obliged with that wonderful smile. While the photo was being taken, he whispered in my ear that he WAS my friend.

Chuck Stocks, then publisher of the Stockman, was kind enough to take the photo. He then surprised me later with the one and only New Mexico Stockman Hero Award complete with a large, beautifully framed photo of the Senator and I that has held a prominent place in my office ever since.

When we met the Senator in Roswell maybe a decade later, I reminded him of that day. He replied, “And you are still my friend.”

Where’s the Fairness?

Every day I get tons of emails with people demanding their own way despite impacts on others. I can no longer go to a Ringling Brothers Circus because of groups like the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) or the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and their ilk. Portland, Maine (near where Michelle lives) and many other cities are taking up ordinances to prohibit the display of wild animals in any circus.

Ordinances are in place or on the way to outlaw the sale of pets from pet stores. However, it IS okay to get a pet from a “rescue” even if they are in a storefront or shopping mall — and don’t be surprised if there are “fees” with you obtaining a rescue animal.

HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle admits, “I don’t have a hands-on fondness for animals. I did not grow up bonded to any particular nonhuman animal.” Pacelle claims, “If I had my personal view, perhaps that might take hold. In fact, I don’t want to see another dog or cat born.”

So the rest of the world is supposed to give up pets?

In Washington state a “habitat conservation plan” for a supposedly endangered pocket gopher has been proposed that would require anyone wanting to build a house on an acre of land, to purchase an acre of “mitigation.” Current price per acre of mitigation is $17,803 and the county is looking at a 30-year plan requiring them to purchase 120 acres per year (roughly 120 credits) to stay on track with projected growth. The 30-year cost would be $64 million.

With the absurdity all of this in mind, I have a demand of my own. I demand a change in the National Football League (NFL) — it is only fair that I get what I want or need no matter the cost or impact to anyone else, right?

There are 32 professional football teams organized into two leagues under the NFL — I figured out in college that if you wanted to find conversation with almost any guy, including my father, all you had to do was bring up football. I developed at least a working knowledge of the sport and key players.

Back to the 32 teams, it is clear that one cannot be assigned to each of the 50 states under the current scheme of things. There needs to be an expansion of 18 more teams. It doesn’t really matter that many states don’t have the population to support a team. Make folks travel to games everywhere.

Expansion could take awhile. Additionally at least one faith finds football to be a tool of the devil because it is on television on Sunday afternoon and Monday night interfering with religious activities. I haven’t checked the stance on the Thursday and Friday night games since the television expansion.

In the short term however, one only needs to look at the distribution of current NFL teams to see that there is an equity problem. California has FOUR teams while Florida has three teams. Texas, Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania each have two. On the face of it, New Jersey has two. But New Jersey is deceiving. Both of those teams are named New York … And there are the Buffalo Bills, so really New York has three teams and New Jersey has none.

Seven states have over half of the NFL teams in the country — a total of 18. Where is the fairness in that?

Like most things, it is the 11 Western states that get the shortest end of the stick. Seven of the 11 states are NFL team-less. These are some of the least populated states in the nation and among those who suffer the most from forest fires.

Keep in mind that each of these teams is a HUGE economic generator. Stadiums, domes and other venues with seating in the tens of thousands sell out weekly. If you only get a $100 ticket, and most tickets cost much more even into the thousands, the smallest stadium brings in well over $5 million in ticket sales alone. The largest brings in more than $9 million.

That’s before you buy any food, beverage or jerseys. The average cost of a small draft beer is $7.42, with highs going to nearly $10. Some have a small, small draft for $5.

But the real money comes from television contracts. The single most popular team in the states without their own NFL team is the Denver Broncos hands down. The highest earning team with an income of $700 million is the Dallas Cowboys.

But the money goes out the door pretty fast too. The effect salary for an NFL quarterback is between $9 and $12 million a year, with the highest paid guy getting $27,000,000. This is a contract that was signed in very recently, so it probably throws off the numbers mentioned above.

Highly skilled non quarterback players earn around $16 million a year. Rookies can expect around $365,000 for their first year. The overall average salary per player is $1.9 million a year. All those salaries don’t count endorsement or commercial deals that could add millions to their income.

Can you imagine how much money a 53-member team roster would bring into New Mexico? Then you add in the coaches. Head coach salaries range from $3.5 million to $8 million based on the information that is available.

There are countless employees to maintain a stadium regularly and to host home games. Even a minimum wage of $10 an hour would help New Mexico families more than most could fathom.

It is the cheerleaders who get the short end of the stick everywhere. NFL cheerleaders make from $9 to $15 an hour for the elite (head), while the amateurs make $9 per hour. Several teams have recently determined that they would pay their cheerleaders whatever the minimum wage is for the state they are in.

A boost in visitors to New Mexico and the dollars they spend on housing and food would also be a big benefit. We have heard for years that tourism is the future economy of New Mexico. The problem with the theory for me is how much trouble you would get in for eating a tourist when you get hungry.

So, how would we divide those NFL teams up to get one per state until the league can expand to 48 teams? I am not sure that we can mandate teams for Alaska or Hawaii at this point.

Here’s my plan: California moves three of their teams to the nearby states of Idaho, Nevada and Oregon. It is way too confusing to have three teams named “LA something” anyway. Texas should give New Mexico one. The Cowboys makes the most sense because it would seem silly to have the New Mexico Texans.

Utah should get a team from Florida, probably the Dolphins, because the name wouldn’t have to change from Jacksonville or Tampa. And, Utah has taken a pro basketball team from the Southeast with some success. Montana and Wyoming could setup a task force or working group to determine if they wanted a New York, Florida or Ohio team.

That would take care of the West. Georgia should get a Florida team and Maine should get a New York/New Jersey team. Any states left over not getting a team should go into a lottery to determine which of the remaining teams they would get. Sadly, there will still be 18 states without a team.

Honestly, after working this through, I think I could take just about any government organizer job and be a hit.

To the popular media…

Get a grip — are you going to cover DACA or the First Lady’s Shoes?      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, October 2017