Farm Credit
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 
Aug 30 2017

As good a time as any …

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

The afternoon after a New Mexico State Game Commission meeting with the topic of wolves and antelope (two separate items) may not be the best time to start this column, but it may be as good a time as any.

The wolf issue seems to be one that will plague me for the rest of my life. The Commission’s discussion at their August meeting was about the draft recovery plan and the need to submit comments. By a vote of six to one, the Commission decided to support the plan, with significant comments on the need for changes in the plan.

Stop! Before you throw this magazine, there is some rationale to the thinking of the six who voted for the position. We have all believed that a recovery plan is a necessity. Without a plan no one knows what recovery means and there is no chance for a delisting in our lifetimes or after.

We got one — be careful what you wish for.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) is under a court order to produce a plan before the end of 2017 so this plan or some version close to it is going to be presented the 9th District Count in Tucson and published as final in the very near future. If anyone wants to be involved in litigation on the plan in the future, they must comment on the plan to have standing in the courts.

Among the comments the Commission wants to submit is the need to have wolf recovery in the US separated from recovery in Mexico. There may be a fat chance of that happening, but the Commission is on the right track.

So, I can probably get over the Commission’s actions.

What burns my mind (and other places) is having to sit through the public comments period. The day could have been worse. The room was not filled with wolf-lovers and there weren’t many fireworks, but the disconnect from reality in those folks never ceases to amaze me.

There was the requisite representative from the Defenders of Wildlife, a new guy apparently from Montana. He extolled the virtues of wolves in Montana and how well the program was working there with ranchers. I had two thoughts for that — Dorothy, you aren’t in Montana anymore, and how many Montana ranchers have you talked with?

He went well beyond his allotted three minutes extolling the virtues of the wonder depredation payments that ranchers have been and are getting — there is just isn’t a problem, he says.

Then there was the bouncy lady who just loved everything. She wanted to know why we all just couldn’t come to the table and work together. Well, fair lady, you need to be talking to the FWS. They are the folks who make plans — like this current recovery plan — in a vacuum. For more than 25 years they have completely ignored the people who provide the habitat for wildlife and are forced to live with the consequences of their “experiment.”

She went on to say that she had raccoons in her yard all the time that ate up all of her dog food. Nobody compensated her for that loss and she didn’t see why anyone should be compensated for wolf losses. I have a novel idea for her… pick up your dog food after you feed your dogs. Lots of things eat dog food beyond raccoons — like rats, mice, ants and lots more.

And, there was the lady that thought the Commission had come to a great compromise because nobody is happy with the draft recovery plan. Thus my word of the month is “compromise.” The dictionary.com definition of a compromise is “a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an Agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands.” (Emphasis added)

Does that sound like anything we have seen, heard or been subjected to in the last 25 years?

Perhaps the most disturbing was a comment made by the New Mexico Game & Fish Department (NMDGF) biologist in response to the questions from a Commissioner on the impact of wolves on ranchers and their families. The response was
that social tolerance was an issue.
Social Tolerance?! I guess there is no reason I should be surprised. Federal and state agencies look down on us all the time. But to be so blatantly dismissed as a mere “social consequence” gave me a severe headache.

When society makes a decision…

We have long been told that “society has decided that the nation needs wolves.” I keep asking when there was a vote — I don’t know anyone who voted on this issue. But, that’s beside the point.

Everyone wants to make a decision —they just don’t want to responsible for it OR for it to impact them in any way. Our political processes have become so convoluted that foreigners are helping make environmental decisions in the United States.

I am not talking about the people illegally in the country. There are little old ladies in Paris, France apartments participating in decision making that impacts us every day. One federal agency recently reported that on one environmental issue here in New Mexico there were some 20,000 comments submitted. Well under 10 percent of those were from New Mexico and there was a substantial percentage of foreign comments.

My favorite example of the problem with the way society takes care of things is, if you have a choice, would you rather use a public restroom or a private one? If it belongs to the ‘public’ you can bet that nobody is in charge of cleaning and maintenance. I will admit that my father wasn’t impressed when I used this analogy about public schools. He served on the Tombstone School Board for 36 years. 

Antelope

The NMDGF has come to the conclusion that their A+ antelope hunting system isn’t working. The primary problem is that there are large amounts of land that aren’t being hunted because ranchers are not participating in the program.

Many of those receiving tags based on their acreage find that the number of tags they receive are not commensurate with the number of antelope that populate their property. Additionally, tags are issued on a one-size-fits-all acreage basis. If you don’t have a base amount of acreage, you are not eligible to participate in the program. There are some 256 ranches that would like to participate in the program but don’t qualify.

Then there are big ranches that are getting large numbers of antelope tags that don’t use them. It is clear that the acreage system doesn’t work. Thus, the NMDGF has proposed that the system be scrapped in favor of an over-the-counter system. This proposal hasn’t drawn much support from the landowner community or the outfitting and guiding community.

One long-time outfitter told the NMDGF, after praising them a bit, that “this was the dumbest idea anyone ever had.”

For those with checker-board ranches, there would be absolutely no way to control hunting on their property. These are the folks who have cooperated with the NMDGF that will be thrown to the wolves — not literally… yet.

The proposal would add hunts and contemplates changing hunt days from three to five. That seems to be a none-starter for everyone. The biologist reported that 85 percent of antelope hunters are successful and that success comes in an average of 1.8 hunting days.

When asked by a Commissioner why the additional days were even considered in the face of this data, the answer was that there had been requests for more hunting days so that hunters could just enjoy the land even after that they had bagged their antelope.

The new hunts would allow hunting from mid-August until November. In the initial propose there was no consideration of the fact that that is exactly the time that ranchers get their payday — fall works. Most people get two paychecks a month, along with insurance and maybe even retirement account. Those raising livestock get one payday a year.

In an effort to spread hunters out, antelope hunt codes will go from 60 to 150 or more. The outfitters present weren’t thrilled with that either.

There are many other nuances in the proposal, so the short story is, if you have antelope on your ranch, you will want to study the plan. It will be months before the Commission even thinks about making a decision.

That time could be beneficially used to work with the Department on a plan that works better than the current A+, but doesn’t pull the wheels off. For example, could the A+ system be approached without acreage baseline? Could tags from large ranches that are not using them be assigned to neighboring ranchers who do want to use them? There is probably much more that could be included.

Trespass

One huge concern with the new antelope proposal is trespass. The issue of trespass is one that is out of hand according to landowners throughout New Mexico. Compounding the problem is that it appears that relationships between landowners and conservation officers on the ground are non-existent. NMDFG leadership and the Commission has been made aware of the problem and efforts are underway to find solutions.

However, at the August Commission meeting, one Commissioner had little sympathy for landowners. It is his position that if landowners don’t legally post their property, they have no right to complain.

I am sure he has looked at the current trespass statue and is well aware of the onerous posting requirements that are impossible to comply with because hunters and others tear down and/or shoot up posting signs, along with tanks, windmills and even livestock.     

The primary reason that landowners have been told by conservation officers that either trespass is a county sheriff’s issue or that the legal system won’t prosecute offenders.

Whatever the problem is, you might consider reposting your property as hunting seasons begin and see if you can get to know your conservation officer.

It’s Back…

Last year the Obama Administration proposed overtime rules that could create seriously adverse impacts on most employers. Although it was believed that production agriculture would be exempted, those not engaged in ag production would be hit hard.

Although the rule was put on hold in November, it is not dead. Currently, the U.S. Department of Labor is seeking additional information and public comment on the proposed regulations. As a refresher, the proposed regulation would increase an exempt employee’s minimum salary to $47,476.

The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association will be providing information on where and how to submit comments by the September 17, 2017 deadline.

Additionally, there are two bills in Congress which would require the Labor Department to conduct a new and comprehensive analysis on the impact of overtime expansion to small businesses. The measures are “Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act” (S. 2707 and H.R. 4773).

Joint Stockmen’s Convention

Time flies when you are having fun and the 2017 Joint Stockmen’s Convention is just around the corner. The convention will be back at the Crown Plaza in Albuquerque November 30 through December 3. The convention block of rooms is open at the hotel at the NMCGA room rate of $81 and there are rooms available at the Fairfield next door at the rate of $65.

Sponsorships are available and the trade show is filling up. The trade show space is offered to last year’s exhibitors first. Any space left over will become available on a first-come-first-serve basis after September 15.

Please plan on coming!!!          

Source: New Mexico Stockman, September 2017 
Aug 07 2017

It was only a matter of time …

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

We have long been told that it is unethical and cruel to produce livestock by animal rights groups. Hunting is under fire (no pun intended). Circuses are being banned from cities and closing. Zoos are now becoming a focus of folks who don’t think wild animals should be kept in captivity.

There is now a push to eliminate pet ownership because we think of pets as people and therefore, we shouldn’t own them. According to Great Britain’s The Guardian, in a story by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie, 90 percent of Brits think of their pets as members of the family — 16 percent of them even included them on the country’s last census. But recent research into animals’ emotional lives casts doubt on the ethics of pet-keeping.

Bioethicist Dr. Jessica Pierce, because of a Tupperware tub of live baby rats at her local PetSmart — she was at the store buying crickets for her daughter’s gecko — became concerned because she believed that the animals were being sold to the store for sale as pets or food for snakes. The incident caused her to re-think the whole question of pet ownership.

Pierce, a Faculty Affiliate, Center for Bioethics and Humanities, University of Colorado Denver, Anchutz Medical Campus, went on to write Run, Spot, Run published in 2015. The book outlines the case against pet ownership. “From the animals that become dog and cat food and the puppy farms churning out increasingly unhealthy purebred canines, to the goldfish sold by the bag and the crickets by the box, pet ownership is problematic because it denies animals the right of self-determination. Ultimately, we bring them into our lives because we want them, then we dictate what they eat, where they live, how they behave, how they look, even whether they get to keep their sex organs.”

It is worth noting that Dr. Pierce owns two dogs and a cat. Not sure if that gecko is still around.

”Treating animals as commodities isn’t new or shocking; humans have been meat-eaters and animal-skin-wearers for millennia. However, this is at odds with how we say we feel about our pets,” according to The Guardian. “The British pet industry is worth about £10.6bn; Americans spent more than $66 billon on their pets in 2016.”

That’s up from $60.59 billion in 2015 and $58.04 billion in 2014, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA. A survey this year found that many British pet owners love their pet more than they love their partner (12 percent), their children (9 percent) or their best friend (24 percent).

“It is morally problematic, because more people are thinking of pets as people … They consider them part of their family, they think of them as their best friend, they wouldn’t sell them for a million dollars,” says Dr. Hal Herzog, a professor of psychology at Western Carolina University and one of the founders of the budding field of anthrozoology, which examines human-animal relations. At the same time, research is revealing that the emotional lives of animals, even relatively “simple” animals such as goldfish, are far more complex and rich than we once thought (“dogs are people, too”, according to a 2013 New York Times comment piece by the neuroscientist Gregory Berns). “The logical consequence is that the more we attribute them with these characteristics, the less right we have to control every single aspect of their lives,” says Herzog.

For a book that was published in 2010, Herzog studied the motivations of animal rights activists and whether it was emotion or intellect that pushed them towards activism. One of the subjects, Herzog says, was “very, very logical”.

The subject, after he had become a vegan, eschewed leather shoes and convinced his girlfriend to go vegan, considered his pet cockatiel. “I remember; he looked up wistfully. He said he got the bird, took it outside, let it loose and it flew up,” Herzog recalls. “He said: ‘I knew she wouldn’t survive, that she probably starved. I guess I was doing it more for myself than for her.’”

The Guardian points out that several countries have moved to change the legal status of animals. In 2015, the government of New Zealand recognized animals as sentient beings, in effect declaring them no longer property (how this squares with New Zealand’s recent “war on possums” is unclear), as did the Canadian province of Quebec. While pets remain property in the UK, the Animal Welfare Act of 2006 stipulates that pet owners must provide a basic level of care for their animals. Pets are also property in the US, but 32 states, as well as Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, now include provisions for pets under domestic violence protection orders. In 2001, Rhode Island changed its legislation to describe pet owners as “guardians”, a move that some animal rights’ advocates lauded (and others criticized for being nothing more than a change in name).

The article also points out some other astounding facts: 1.5 million shelter animals – including 670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats – are euthanized each year in the US. This really doesn’t square the fact that dog-trafficking, both legal and illegal, is happening between states and from foreign countries.

On the wild/feral horse front…

While Congress is considering giving federal agencies the power to dispose of these horses, the courts are taking a dim view of anything already in place to provide relief for the horses by land stewards.

A Utah federal district court judge recently ruled against ranchers demanding that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) remove excess horses. Judge Jill Parrish said “Once the BLM determines that an over-population in fact exists in a given area, the agency has wide discretion in how it addresses that overpopulation. The BLM may address the identified over-population through removal or through other methods it deems more suitable.”

In a separate action the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has delivered a victory to wild horse enthusiasts, ordering the U.S. Forest Service to restore 23,000 acres of critical land as protected horse country in California — and showed judges taking an increasingly dim view of agencies’ decision-making.

The government had said the land was added by “administrative error” in the 1980s, and tried to erase it from the boundaries of the protected wild horse territory, but the said decades of history of protection can’t be tossed out so easily. Judges ordered the Forest Service to go back and redo the decision, considering what impact the erasure would have on the horse population.

Southern Poverty Law Center
now after Christians.

The left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center, which has been in the spotlight recently for its practice of designating conservative non-profits as “hate groups,” has gone on defense, according to a story by Bob UNRUH on Worldnetdaily.com.

Richard Cohen, the president of SPLC, which has been linked to a domestic terror attack, wrote in a Huffington Post commentary that Christians deserve the designation because they “sow the seeds of hate.”

The Family Research Council, wrote Cohen, has a “long track record of using dehumanizing language and outright lies to portray LGBT people as sick, evil, and a danger to children and society. As stated on its website, it opposes the acceptance of homosexuality ‘in the law, in the media, and in the schools.’”

He also renewed his group’s attacks on the conservative Center for Immigration Studies. “It’s a group whose immigration agenda is colored by ethnic bias,” he claimed.

SPLC’s defense of its activities comes on the heels of a lawsuit against the charity-monitoring organization GuideStar over its use of SPLC’s “hate” designations.

SPLC sits in judgment of Christians and others, labeling as “haters” those who disagree with its pro-homosexual and open- borders agendas. In fact, SPLC put Dr. Ben Carson in that category before facing a backlash and abruptly backtracking.

It has been documented that some of the groups targeted by SPLC now are unleashing a public counteroffensive, accusing the organization of “fueling hate, killing free speech and even encouraging terrorist-style attacks on those it doesn’t agree with.”

Once a group dedicated to fighting actual hate groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center has now turned to slandering and demonizing Christian and conservative organizations, labeling them “hate groups.” These groups are placed in the same category as the KKK on the SLPC’s “hate map” for merely upholding traditional standards of marriage and sexual morality.

The SPLC has enlisted in the culture wars on the side of the radical Left, and raised a huge amount of money from misled followers in doing so. Their false designations and demonization of Christians and conservatives has even led to violence.

There is time left to comment on the draft Mexican wolf recovery plan… Get ‘er done!

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has set a deadline of August 29, 2017 for comments on the draft Mexican wolf recovery plan. We need YOU and everyone you know to comment PLEASE!

The flaws of the plan are many but here’s a short list if you need help with your comments:

The primary hurdle to recovery, according to this plan is genetic diversity. When the recovery was initiated with less than 10 wolves capped by McBride, what was expected to happen in breeding and cross breeding this minute gene pool? The only way to add genetic diversity is to cross-breed with other gene pools. Since there are no other canis lupus baileyi gene pools, what is going to be cross bred to this gene pool that won’t result in an animal that is no longer a Mexican wolf? Anyone with animal husbandry knowledge knows that the recovery program was doomed to failure because of the lack of a gene pool.

While “down-listing” is contemplated in the draft, never is the word “delisting” used. The call estimates “recovery” in the 25 to 35 years. “Recovery” and “delisting” are not synonymous. Will delisting ever take place?

Recovery is predicated on the “full” cooperation of a foreign county which is impossible to predict especially over 35 years. It cannot be predicted for a single year.

Cost of recovery is estimated at $262,575,000 which works out to $820,547.88 PER WOLF at a “recovered” population of 320 wolves.

The 1982 Recovery Plan determined that there was a lack of suitable habitat at the time for full recovery. What has enhanced the habitat since 1982? Today there are more people, more roads, more cars, and more communities than could have even been imagined in 1982.

The 1982 Recovery Plan found that vast majority of the canis lupus baileyi, species of wolf being recovered, was in Mexico, with only small areas of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas falling into the historical range. Why is the habitat of the canis lupus monstrabilis and the canis lupus mogollonesis now considered beneficial for the canis lupus baileyi?

The draft recovery plan is written in language that is nearly impossible for the layman to decipher.

There is a profound lack of science in the draft recovery plan.

Joint Stockmen’s is Coming!!!

Mark your calendars for November 30 to December 3 for the 2017 Joint Stockmen’s Convention at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Albuquerque. We are now taking sponsorships and trade show booth requests and the room block is open.’

Looking forward to seeing you there!      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, August 2017 
Jul 19 2017

Insanity

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

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Dealing with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has gone well past being insane. For more than a quarter of a century, ranchers have been attending meetings on the Mexican wolf program held by the agency only to be verbally abused, physically threatened and completely ignored.

For that reason the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, the New Mexico Wool Growers, Inc. and the New Mexico Federal Lands Council are advising their members not to waste the time and resources to attend these meetings.

However it is crucial that EVERYONE and their brother send in comments by August 29, 2017. The FWS has predetermined that there will be no extension of the comment period. The NMCGA and others are working on detailed comments which will be available via email and on the website at www.nmagriculture.org .

There are some tidbits that are just too good not to share now. Mexican wolf “recovery” is predicated on a wolf number of 320 with a specific genetic make up to be maintained for eight years. And, more outrageous is the fact that 170 of those wolves must survive in Mexico, where the U.S. federal government has no influence or control at all.

The draft recovery plan states that wolves have been released in Mexico since 2011 and that as of April 2017 there are only 28 wolves known alive. It is worth remembering that the FWS has been releasing wolves in New Mexico and Arizona for nearly 20 years and there are currently only 113 animals reported by the agency. Those who live and work on the land believe there are many more out there; they just don’t have collars on.

According to the draft recovery plan, models predict that down-listing could occur in as little as 16 to 20 years. It will likely be 25 to 35 years before “recovery.” The document also states that the cost of this “recovery” is a projected cost of $262,575,000. These time frames are based on expectation of full funding, implementation as provided for in the plan and implementation strategy, and full cooperation of bi-national partners.

The plan also states that when the 1982 recovery plan was created ”…the recovery team could not foresee full recovery… due… their assessment of a lack of suitable habitat within historical range due to human activities.” If there wasn’t enough habitat in 1982, just how many people have moved into the region in the last 35 years? How many roads have been built? How many hundreds of thousands of acres have burned?

Then there are the “threats to the Mexican wolf.” Threats to a species are the determinations the FWS uses to decide if a species is threatened or endangered. There are five factors in the Endangered Species Act (ESA):

The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;

Over utilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;

Disease or predation;

The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms;

Other natural or manmade factors affecting survival.

The FWS recently assessed threats to the Mexican wolf and determined that the Mexican wolf was in danger of extinction due to illegal shooting, genetic issues (inbreeding, loss of heterozygosity (…) and loss of adaptive potential), and small population size. More recently, the FWS described four stressors (conditions that may influence the current and ongoing recovery of Mexico wolf) in the draft Biological Report for the Mexican wolf:

Adequate habitat availability/ suitability;

Excessive human-caused mortality;

Demographic stochasticity associated with small population size;

Continuing or accelerated loss of genetic diversity associated in the captive or wild populations

Stressors and threats are highly related concepts, but not be one in the same. For example, for the Mexican wolf, habitat destruction, modification or curtailment is not threatening or endangering the Mexico wolf, yet ensuring adequate habitat is available to support recovered Mexican wolf population is central to the recovery effort for the Mexican wolf (e.g., a potential stressor).

It was tough enough retyping that section. Now I need help in determining exactly what is meant by it! This is just a taste of the 43-page document, which is actually small compared to recent wolf documents issued by the FWS.

To obtain a copy of the Mexican wolf draft recovery plan please visit: www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/MWRP.cfm

Then it gets worse…

One of the issues that has plagued ranchers who have been forced to live with wolves is documenting wolf kills for the pittance of compensation that might be available. With calves the primary issue has been finding anything left of a carcass to make a determination on whether or not it was a wolf kill.

One NMCGA member recently thought he had the perfect documentation. A photo was taken of a wolf trotting through the pasture just off of a road with a calf’s head in his mouth.

Not so much. The kill was documented as a “probable” kill instead of a kill because the rest of the calf’s body couldn’t be located. My suggestion was that they necropsy the wolf to find the rest of the calf. Nobody thought that was funny.

Now the rancher has to prove the calf whose head was in the wolf’s mouth was alive when the wolf showed up. The photo doesn’t establish that.

Other lame excuses included that there was no proof of when the photo was taken and that calf could have been still-born. The call of a “probable” kill diminishes the compensation even further.

A message from the
Acting Director of the BLM

The President and Secretary of the Interior Zinke have asked the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to take a new, in-depth look into our land use planning and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes.  As someone who cares about the nation’s public lands, your input is vital to determining how the BLM will approach land use planning going forward.

Our goal is to identify inefficiencies and redundancies that should be eliminated from our land use planning and NEPA processes, while ensuring that we fulfill our legal and resource stewardship responsibilities. By doing this, we will be able to dedicate more time and resources to completing the important on-the-ground work on our public lands. 

Balanced stewardship of the public lands and resources is more important to the interests of the country and its people than ever before. This mission is also more complex and challenging than at any time in our history.  But with your input, we can strike that balance.

We are opening a 21-day period, beginning on July 3, 2017 and ending on July 24, 2017, in which you can submit your ideas specific to how we can make the BLM’s planning procedures and environmental reviews timelier and less costly, as well as responsive to local needs.  This streamlining effort will help shape how we move forward. You can submit your input by going to this link: goo.gl/CYxqM5.

The decisions made in land use plans and after NEPA analyses are fundamental to how BLM public lands and resources are used for the benefit of all Americans.  We are committed to working cooperatively with state and local governments, communities, Indian tribes, and other stakeholders to determine the best ways to manage public lands for multiple uses and values, both now and in the future.

This effort is not required under any laws or regulations. We are doing this because we strongly believe that public input, especially at the local level, is an essential component of federal land management.

– Michael Nedd, Acting BLM Director

Other Moves On the
Washington, DC Front

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies marked up their FY 2018 appropriations bill, the first step in the appropriations process in mid July. Highlights of the that bill are as follows:

Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) – Funded at $275 million with state and local recreation and battlefield preservation programs prioritized

Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) – Funded at $465 million

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – Funded at $1.2 billion (a reduction of $46 million from FY 17 enacted levels)
     $20 million reduction in funding for land acquisition
     Level funding of $68 million for on the ground sage grouse conservation

National Park Service (NPS) – Funded at $2.9 billion (a reduction of $64 million from FY 17 enacted levels)
     $55 million targeted to park operations and maintenance to reduce the maintenance backlog

U.S. Forest Service (USFS) – Funded at $5.2 billion
     Nearly half ($2.5 billion) is targeted to wildland fire prevention and suppression.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) – Funded at $1.5 billion (a reduction of $38 million from FY 17 enacted levels) 
     Prioritizes funding to reduce the Endangered Species Act (ESA) backlog, refuge backlog, and to fight invasive species

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Funded at $7.5 billion (a reduction of $528 million from FY 17 enacted levels)

The bill continues language from previous years that prohibits the use of funds to write or issue a proposed rule for greater sage-grouse and/or the Columbia basin distinct population segment of greater sage-grouse

Wild Horses and Burros – The bill allows the Secretary of Interior to transfer excess wild horses or burros to other federal, state, and local government agencies for use as work animals and that horses and burros transferred to other agencies lose their status as a wild free-roaming horse or burro. Animals cannot be slaughtered for commercial purposes, and can only be euthanized under the recommendation of a licensed veterinarian in cases of injury or advanced age.

Gray wolves range-wide –  No funds may be used to treat any gray wolf in the lower 48 states as an endangered or threatened species. The bill also directed FWS to reissue the final rule to delist wolf populations in the Great Lakes and Wyoming within 60 days.

At the same time the US House Appropriations Committee marked up and vote on the Fiscal Year 2018 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. The passage of this bill for the past decade has included language that effectively outlaws horse slaughter in the United States by blocking funding for the USDA to pay inspectors for horse slaughter facilities, but today’s passage will go without that amendment.

These committees are just the first stop for appropriation measures. They will move to the House Floor & then move over to the Senate for passage. There will likely be conference committees between the House & the Senate before anything is final. These bills are to fund the fed. govt. for fiscal year 2018, which commences on 10/1/2017.      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, July 2017