Farm Credit
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 
Jun 03 2017

Word of the Month: Anthropomorphic

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

It means ascribing human form or attributes to a being or thing not human. I have difficulty pronouncing the word and it is relatively recently added to my vocabulary.

It came back to top of mind when I was binge watching RIDE TV on a Sunday. The summer sports drought started when Baylor knocked the University of Arizona out of the NCAA Girls Softball Tournament, there isn’t always a Law & Order on and there are just so many home improvement shows you can sit through. The news is out of the question and… my mother was happy with RIDE.

A show came on about the EQUUS Film Festival, an event that has been held in New York City for the last three years to screen films about horses along with discussions about issues affecting the equine world. You can imagine what might go on. However, the folks who host the event seem to want some open discussion and education, even with their bias.

The event is held in November. In 2016 Protect the Harvest was a sponsor. The mere announcement that this group dedicated to protecting agriculture brought out such vile comments on Facebook and their website that cannot be repeated in polite company… or any company.

The issues covered in the 30-minute program included those we are all too familiar with — Walking Horses and “soring,” carriage horses in Central Park and “wild” horses. There was balance in the panels discussing these and probably other issues.

They were talking about the federal wild horses. I put wild in quotes to point out that there are many in New Mexico, at least, that misuse that term on a regular basis. That area was, of course, my biggest interest. The arguments for letting these animals “roam free” without management were ones that we have heard ad nauseam.

One of the arguments struck a stronger chord this time. There was one woman extremely concerned about breaking up ”families” of horses as if she thinks that a stud and a mare spend a life together with all of the foals they produce. That doesn’t even work in humans.

Don’t they realize that studs are hustlers – not monogamist? Studs run with bands of mares… that is called polygamy. Colts are weaned every year so the mare can feed the next one. The stud colts eventually move on to build their own band of mares because their sires won’t let them breed mares in the band. That’s how nature works. You don’t see families of bears wandering in family packs or even wolves for that matter. Once the young know how to hunt and care for themselves they are kicked out on their own.

And they don’t all get together for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Does thinking that animals are people allow people to act like animals?

It seems as though we may have finally found the bottom in the human civility and ridicule of our nation’s president. There have been several “celebrities” who have chosen to step what this writer considers to be WAY over the line with few consequences.

There is one red-headed “comedienne” who will not be spending her 2018 New Year’s Eve in the Big Apple waiting for the mirror ball to fall. She decided, along with the idiots who took and posted the photo, that it would be cute to pose with a mask of President Trump covered in blood as if she had ISIS-like severed his head. That was finally enough to outrage even the liberal media. The woman, she’s not a lady, has lost two jobs and one endorsement contract so far.

These people want to clamor about animal families seem to have no respect for human families. Whether you like President Trump or not, the man has a family including a young son and grandchildren. Don’t they deserve some respect and consideration?

On a more positive note…

The just concluded WALC (Women in Agriculture Leadership Conference) was one for the record books and the best ever according to the old timers! Over 200 women from across New Mexico and one from Arizona from ages from four months to 94 gathered in at the Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces. Between Wednesday evening and early afternoon on Thursday there were more than 17 speakers and presentations plus a bus tour and a separate track for young ladies aged 13 to 18. Then there was all the good food and fellowship.

The WALC is such a production that the decision was made several years ago to hold it every other year instead of annually. Of course, New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte soon decided to host the AgriFuture Conference in the off year.

Speakers ranged from Congressman Steve Pearce, Lt. Governor John Sanchez and four Ladies of the Legislature, to NMSU ACES Dean Rolando Flores to Reverend Jennifer Hopper (formerly the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau Ag in the Classroom program leaders) to country music sensation in Texas, New Mexico’s own Bri Bagwell. There was a bunch of great people in between.

Who else could manage 200 women and all of these great speakers but our own inspirational speaker and farm boy Matt Rush? He used to be a cabana boy but he went and got married on us. His lovely bride joined us too.

The 2017 Diamond in the Rough Award winner was USDA’s Kristin Graham Chavez and the charity was the USO. Between the donation from WALC, the donations in the Ladies Luck of the Draw, and a contribution from Farm Credit of New Mexico, the El Paso Airport USO took home over $5,000. The USO is critically import in the support of our troops and their families and is said to be the best investment for providing that support.

No More Bore Hole

We have received word that in late May the U.S. Department of Energy notified contractors that funding for bore hole project in Quay County, New Mexico has been withdrawn. We do not know if this applies to the project in Otero County as well, but are digging into that.

Great Scam

In my travels I come across some interesting… and bazaar things. I spent some time in the San Diego airport and found a whopper. There is a sign by the gift shop that says “Carbon Offset Your Flight.”

For only $2.00 you can purchase “offsets 1,000 miles of flying or 400 miles of driving / 344 lbs of CO2e. This is offered by The Good Traveler. You can visit their website and calculate what you should spend to offset any trip and pay it with a credit card online.

According to USA TODAY in a January article, if minimizing your environmental impact is on the agenda for 2017, several West Coast airports are eager to help you get started. Just donate a minimum of $2.00 and there’s no need to feel guilty about getting on a plane.

Austin Bergstrom International is the latest airport to join to the Good Traveler program, which encourages air travelers to purchase carbon offsets proportionate to the greenhouse gas produced by their flight and then choose which pro-environment project their funds support.

Through the program, $2 buys carbon offsets for 1,000 miles of flying and a handy distance calculator helps air travelers figure out how many offsets are needed to match the environmental impact of each flight.

Once offsets are purchased, a traveler can choose to have their funds go to reducing emissions from deforestation in the Congo and Zambia or towards projects in the United States that support a wind farm, a forestry project and Colorado Delta restoration efforts.

Austin Bergstrom International joins Seattle-Tacoma International and San Diego International Airport — the program creator — in drawing attention to the program by posting an icon on the front page of the airport website.

SAN airport first introduced the Good Traveler program in September 2015 and, according to the airport, the project has already offset about 11.5 million air miles.

Wish we could think of something like this to support ranchers!

Thank you!

Many of you saw the invitation to my Mother’s 80th Birthday Party. I am proud to report that it came off in grand style and she had a great time. That wouldn’t have happened without some dear friends and family who stepped up to the plate when I found myself the lone ranger in staging the event.

I want to extend deep appreciation to them and all the folks that came to help celebrate my Mother. Without childhood and lifelong friends Susie Krentz and Anne More it would have been a pretty dismal day. They both gave more than two days of their time in planning and decorating The Cowbelle Hall in Douglas, Arizona. We have celebrated family and community events there for literally generations. That’s where we learned to dance, learned how to run a meeting and always looked forward seeing our friends.

With Patty Waid’s decorative boots, Beef Council table clothes, chair covers and sashes from the year we staged the State Fair Junior Livestock Sale, Anne’s creativity and a showing of the Kentucky Derby, the Hall shined. Several folks said they didn’t remember the Hall being as nice as it is. As a shameless plug, the Cowbelles have invested in some much needed renovations and the Hall is now available to rent for parties, meetings, wedding receptions and other events.

It was a lot of fun working in the kitchen with friends and family including Pam and Robbie Sproul, Jerry Ligon, Bill Martin, Lynn Kimble, my only nephew R.W. and his wife Ande, and everyone else that pitched in. It brought back memories of helping Mother, Grandmother, Nana and Aunt Florence as they took their turn at providing the monthly Cowbelle meeting luncheons.

And you cannot forget the clean-up crew, Pam and Robbie, Susie, and Bill Martin. It is amazing how fast you can tear down what took probably eight hours to put together. We had it down and back in the car in less than an hour.

Offering respect

This has been a tough month for New Mexico’s ranching community. We lost Wally Ferguson and Mack Bell. I am proud to have known and learned from both men and we will miss them as we head into the future. I never got to know Shane Kincaid and that will be my loss.

I have mentioned my high school English teacher who had a profound impact on my entire life. We lost her a few weeks ago to the ravages of Alzheimer’s. I was unable to make it back to Tombstone for her celebration of life, but her son was kind enough to let me be a part of the service anyway. Hopefully from this you can get a glimpse of the amazing woman that took me under her wing for life.

Most every life is blessed by special people. I, along with countless others, was blessed by Mary Lou. There are few teachers that remain in our lives much after we were no longer in their class room. That wasn’t so with Mary Lou. High school graduation was just the beginning of a life-long friend and mentorship for me. By extension Herman was part of the package — whether he liked it or not.

I like to think that I was one of few who were so special to her. But that simply isn’t the case. Every time we talked over the past 40 plus years, she was always able to give me a run down for at least three classes before and after me. She was proud of everyone’s accomplishments and was their biggest cheerleader. Her students excelled in numerous fields and there were at least a few that ended up with regional and national media careers.

Mary Lou was passionate about life, her family, her students and what was happening in the world. An example of that was her CASA volunteering after she retired from teaching, along with marching in a political protest or two in downtown Tucson.

We didn’t always agree on those world views, but we had enough love and respect for each other to disagree, without being disagreeable. That didn’t mean she would hesitate to scold me when she thought I was headed down the wrong path in my life.

I know most certainly my life would have been different if I hadn’t had Mary Lou in it from high school on. She was always there when I needed someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, a meal, a bed to sleep in or a special happening to share.

I regret that I am unable to be here today to share in the celebration of Mary Lou’s life, but I will miss her dearly and hold her in my heart.         

Source: New Mexico Stockman, June 2017 
May 01 2017

High Stakes …

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

In a world where all we want to do is grow healthy food and fiber, take care of the land, provide reasonable resources for wildlife and rear families who have common sense and strong values, there is sure a lot standing in the way. It is hard to ignore the political scene both in our state and our nation.

Let’s start with the state front. At press time, there is still no word on when or if Governor Susana Martinez will call a Special Session to address the financial crisis our state is in.

We have no budget including operations for higher education, the Legislature and much, much more. The Legislature has sued the Governor and the State Supreme Court has taken on the case. The Governor’s answer to the suit is due on May 5.

She has called for furlough plans from all state agencies and there is rumor that the state will be out of money prior to the Memorial Day weekend. There is also rumor that there are tens of millions of dollars to come from the feds that could provide a short term fix. But, of course, will the feds deliver?

The Impact on New Mexico Agriculture

A higher education budget would seem to be important because we rely upon New Mexico’s institutions to educate the generations that will follow in our footsteps and create the next big advances for our community. That alone is enough to generate deep concern over the situation we now find ourselves in.

But you don’t have to dig very deep to figure out that it isn’t just higher education that we rely on our educational institutions for. In the case of agriculture, New Mexico State University (NMSU) is crucial to our future. The state’s only land grant university, NMSU houses the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA), the Cooperative Extension Service (CES), the Agriculture Experiment Station (AES) system, the Range Improvement Task Force (RITF) and the College of Agriculture.

Following those branches a bit, the CES has a presence in all of the state’s 33 counties. It is the home for 4-H and numerous other programs that reach out to local communities and works to educate youth of all ages on the agriculture. The AES has 12 science centers from Farmington to Clayton and down to Las Cruces. Each of these centers has a specific mission to address a variety of agriculture pieces. Those that ranchers work with most are the Clayton Research Center, which has a fully functional feed yard; the Tucumcari Ag Science Center which includes the Tucumcari Bull Test and lots of other projects; and the Corona Range & Livestock Center that is a working ranch laboratory.

The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) and other ag groups have often gone to bat at the Legislature and in other venues to provide funding and resources for these centers that are so important to the future on one of the largest engines in the state’s economy.

The FFA (formerly the Future Farmers of America) and the Agriculture Extension Education (AXED) programs are part of the College of Agriculture. It is worth noting that for the 2016-2017 school year, there were some four Albuquerque schools that wanted to add agriculture education to their programs. However there were not enough ag teachers available for that to happen.

We could go on, but the picture is pretty clear that much more than a teaching budget is necessary for NMSU to continue to provide all the services needed by agriculture.

This isn’t a problem isolated to NMSU. Other universities are equally important to other sectors so necessary to our state. Just look at the University of New Mexico and what it means to health care to the state and surrounding regions.

The Governor has pledged to fund higher education and we need to hold her feet to the fire on funding ALL of what these institutions mean to our families, our communities and our livelihoods.

Then the tax package …

The Governor also vetoed a tax package intended to address the budget crisis New Mexico has faced for the past several years and will continue to face for the foreseeable future. Being no tax expert, I am not going to sit in judgment of any package, but we have learned more about HB 412, the Administration’s preferred approach, from the regular Session. 

Sponsor Representative Jason Harper and others sat down for an afternoon at the NMCGA office for a fairly in-depth discussion. We think we planted some seeds that will bear fruit in coming versions of the bill.

As it sits now, HB 412 is alarming at best. While it appears to be clear that there is no intention to increase the tax burden on agriculture, eliminating exemptions in favor of deductions, it is completely clear that the current plan will be an impossible standard for many, many small agriculture operations across the state.

Instead of having a clear exemption as we have today, the measure would require that all agriculturists would be required to obtain a State Tax ID number, also known as a Combined Reporting System (CRS) ID Number. This registration is the Taxation & Revenue Department’s (TRD) method for reporting the State’s major business taxes.

Then for every transaction of buying or selling ag products or products used for the production of food and fiber, there would have to be a NTTC (Non Taxable Transaction Certificate) form executed. On a monthly basis a report would be filed with the TRD where the NTTC would prove deductions.

Confused yet? I certainly am. NMCGA has made clear that this process would add untold hours of record keeping to agriculturists who are already working from dark to dark would be impossible for many to comply with. Then you add in that the friendly and helpful (NOT!) TRD would be the compliance agency and it runs shivers down my spine.

The Association has requested either the retention of exemptions, which we are told is highly unlikely, or a system that would provide for a number that could be used for agriculture purchases. Stay tuned to see how all that works out.

Again, agriculture is among all New Mexico businesses that will be majorly affected by whatever the final outcome is.

Part of the intent of the bill is to eliminate business to business service taxes. For example, if passed the bill would allow your account or your attorney not to charge gross receipts tax on their services to your business.

It is envisioned that the new taxation system would begin on July 1, 2018, with regulations to be determined as the system is implemented.

On the Federal Front

News is quite a bit better on the federal front as President Trump completed his first 100 days, meeting a large number of goals that he promised and set for himself. Those include an on-going attempt to address the health care system in our nation, a new tax plan that would eliminate the death tax, and many executive orders addressing the issues that have faced the West for two or three past administrations. A prime example is the order to review all presidential monument designations back to the Clinton era.

The media is still making lots of noise about the unfavorable rating of the President. However they have to admit that it is steadily coming up and people are increasingly encouraged by the direction of the country for the last six or eight months.

What they are not taking much notice of is what is happening to the financial markets. I don’t know if that is the best yardstick, but record highs continue to be hit and this is the greatest rise in the markets since the 1940s.

We are anxious for the appointments to be made in the departments and agencies that we work with on a daily basis. We need meaningful change to individual regulations and processes. Secretary Zinke’s order for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to go back to the drawing board on their planning processes is a tremendous start. We need the same thing in the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies.

One thing to remember is that just because we have an Administration that we believe to be favorable to us, we must remain vigilant in holding their feet to the fire. We must file petitions for regulatory change. We must file lawsuits when necessary to demand the changes we need. It’s using those processes and others that put our backs to the wall now.

We must also be willing to serve when asked. There will be many requests for service or guidance in the months and year to come. This is not the time to let someone else do it. This is YOUR time to lead. Please don’t ignore it.

Wolf Wars

A prime example of the continued fight is on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the listings that have been, the regulatory guidance, and anything and everything else we can think of.

Late April saw some movement on the wolf front. First there was a decision out of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals vacating the restraining order keeping the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) from releasing wolves in New Mexico without permission of the state. There is no doubt that is disappointing. However, this doesn’t make the case go away. The New Mexico Department of Game & Fish can still proceed with the underlying case.

There were two reasons given for the overturn. One was that the State didn’t make the case of irreparable harm. That single reason, that we may disagree with, should have been enough said. However the Court felt the need to go one step forward, claiming that the ESA trumps all. That is the mantra we have heard out of federal lawyers ad nauseam.

Hopefully we now have a Trump for that.

10J Rule Case

The day after the 10th Circuit ruling, some 12 attorneys massed in the Federal District Court in Tucson for a hearing on the case filed by the Arizona/New Mexico Coalition of Counties against the FWS on the ESA 10J experimental, non-essential rule issued in early 2015. There were interventions and other cases that were all smashed into one hearing that including Coalition/NMCGA attorney Karen Budd-Falen, two attorneys from the Safari Club International, one lawyer from the State of Arizona, four federal attorneys, two lawyers from the Center for Biological Diversity and two from the WildEarth Guardians. Thankfully only nine of them spoke, but some of them twice.

At issue is if all or part of the rule should be remanded to the FWS to do over again and if the rule should be vacated while the do over occurs. Of course the FWS wants none of the above to happen.

The Safari Club and the Coalition/NMCGA wants all of the above. The radical environmentalists want a partial remand with no vacating.

The Judge took the case under advisement and said she would issue a decision as soon as practicable. That was amusing because one of the issues is what is “practicable” for the FWS. It is a wiggle term used by lawyers and embedded in statute.

Stay tuned for updates. Clearly regardless to what the District Court outcome is, the case will be appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals… the court most often overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Thanks!

A great deal of appreciation is in order for CKP Insurance who has just become the NMCGA’s first Premier Sponsor and the ADM who has just purchased a sponsorship package. Please support these businesses who support YOU!!!      

 

Source: New Mexico Stockman, May 2017 
Apr 03 2017

The Year of the Critter

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

Lots of people worked their socks off making sure that many bills that would have negatively impacted agriculture, wildlife, and all of New Mexico didn’t get to Governor Susana Martinez’ desk. They also worked on a few bills that would make life easier for some folks including one to add a second dollar to the Beef Checkoff in New Mexico. That second dollar would be VOLUNTARY with a detailed provision on how cattle and dairy men opt out of the collection of a second dollar. The first dollar is the federal dollar that is mandatory and remains the same.

Read more ...