Dec 02 2018

Trapping Wars

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

A cow carcass lying near popular hiking trails in Santa Fe National Forest is sparking concerns about predators, particularly after reports on social media that an unleashed dog went missing while walking ahead of its owner on the Borrego Trail, according to a Santa Fe New Mexican story by Sami Edge.

Lily Azures, a former hunter who now runs an operation called Paw Trackers that helps track down lost pets, thinks Toby, the missing 40-pound terrier mix, might have been taken by a mountain lion.

Azures said she hiked with Toby’s owner to the site where the dog disappeared and saw several big cat tracks in the area. Earlier this week, she placed cameras near the carcass to test her theory.

Footage Azures uploaded to the Paw Trackers Facebook page appears to prove her right: The videos, with time stamps from the afternoon and evening of November 20, show at least one large cat ambling about and feasting on the cow remains.

Azures hopes the videos will warn people away from the area or, at the very least, convince hikers to keep their animals leashed so they don’t get nabbed by a large predator.

“A cat and human encounter is dangerous, any way you cut it. … They are powerful animals,” Azures said. “I needed to get those cameras down there to show them, ‘This is what I saw,’ and the cameras didn’t fail me.”

However, no one at the Albuquerque public comment meeting on the potential of the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish (NMDGF) opening the Trapping Rule seemed to know anything about this.

The meeting was surprisingly small with only about six anti-trapping folks there. They were well outnumbered by trappers and their supporters who did an excellent job of explaining why trapping is necessary. The comments ranged from predator control to the economic benefit to individuals and rural communities.

That didn’t deter those folks who didn’t seem to know much about trapping rules and were focused on their emotional folderol about how society had evolved from the need for trapping, and for one lady, even hunting and fishing. In her eyes nothing should ever be killed. There was one woman who is a “certified wildlife biologist” from Oregon. She now lives in New Mexico and works for the New Mexico Environment Department as a scientist… we know this to be true because she said it about five times. She did take a break to wave and say “hello” to the private camera filming from the back of the room.

As a certified wildlife biologist, now certified in New Mexico, and a scientist, she does not believe that there is enough science to support trapping in the state. However, she didn’t have an answer on where the science is on how many dogs have been caught in traps or what the circumstances were surrounding the few incidents that take place according to local news.

In most places it is the law of the land that dogs be kept on leashes and in control of the handler, usually of no more than six feet. In Albuquerque that is true even if you are on your own private property.

One recent dog/trap incident was one where the dog was on leash and was caught in a trap. Clearly the leash laws/regulations were broken in this event. The handler did not have control of the leash or the animal. The excuse was that the dog was curious and so was the handler.

You will hear this story during the upcoming Legislature ad nauseam. Without a doubt the trapping ban bill will be on the docket complete with all the histrionics of years past.

Back to the substance of the proposed rule change for trapping. In 2017 and 2018 there was a group called together at the request of a memorial passed by Senator Pete Compos. The memorial was introduced in 2017 after Senator Compos pulled his anti-trapping bill. The purpose of the measure was to bring people together to see if there was any common ground that could be reached between trapper supporters and deniers.

Although it was clear at the first meeting, on a holiday weekend, that no matter what came out of the group, there were those antis who were going to bring the bill forward. Yet there was a fairly devoted crew who gave up three more Saturdays and another holiday weekend to work on something for Senator Compos.

The meetings were grueling at best. The third meeting was the worst and I will admit that I totally lost it. At each meeting we were all asked to make some comment about ourselves as part of our introduction. At the third meeting the request was to say something about what we had learned about each other at the previous meetings. Miss Sierra Club was one of the first to speak. What she had learned, and she said it was terrible, was that trapping supporters hated animals. I was so mad by the time my turn came that I didn’t even say my name, let alone say something about the group… who knows what I might have said.

Then it got worse. During the meeting, Miss Sierra Club said that set-backs from road and high use areas didn’t really matter what the distance was. The only reason the antis cared about set-backs was to make things more difficult for trappers – it had nothing to do with safety.

Somewhere about this time I got a call that our dear Sharon King didn’t have long to be with us. Already being upset, I certainly didn’t give a rat’s posterior about what anybody thought the rest of the meeting.

Then it got more irritating. As each of the breakout groups reported their progress or lack thereof, one of the recommendations was for more education. For the anti-trappers, that education was only to be for the trapping community. For the rest of us it was more public education working toward avoiding future conflict. I expressed that sentiment.

Then Miss Animal Protection of New Mexico yelled that if the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association wanted to pay for the development of public education that was fine, but she and her group refused to have any part of it. I wasn’t very nice until the end of the meeting, in fact the meeting ended shortly thereafter.

These Albuquerque comment meeting had its’ own shocking moments… one was when a new Miss Sierra Club, who honestly seems like a nice person, informed the NMDGF that they had the worst “f-ing” website ever. I agree that I have some difficulty navigating the site, but my feelings are nowhere near that strong!

The proposed changes for the trapping rule all came out of the working group. They are:

Mandatory Trapper Education. New Mexico has some of the strongest trapper education in the nation. Mandatory education might help in identify those who are trapping illegally.

Changing set-back from 25 to 50 feet, in effect doubling the distance for trappers… and doubling the time it will take to check traps and halving the number of traps that could be run. The trappers were necessarily opposed to this change… but they want the 24-hour trap check rule changed to 72 hours which would give them time back to allow more traps.

Allowing the Director to close high use areas to trapping.

Signage at trailheads so that hikers and dog walkers would at least know there were traps in the area. During the group meetings, the antis wanted signs on each trap. Duh…

Better definition of what is a “trail.”

The Game Commission was to decide at their November 30 meeting on whether to open the rule to make these changes. Stay tuned!

Mid-Term Elections & the 2019 Legislature

As happens every two years, the elections have come and gone. In 2018 all the state-wide offices were up as well as the State House of Representatives. There were winners and losers.

We have plenty of opportunities to make new friends, renew old acquaintances and build stronger relationships. We won’t say good bye, but see you later, to old friends who have well-served New Mexicans for years.

There will be new faces in House Committees and there will be lots of opportunity for education and exchange. That’s where you come in.

If you don’t already know who your legislators are, please take the time to get to know them before we get to Santa Fe in mid-January. It will make communicating with them during Session a lot easier.

We are expecting many bills to be back like the anti-trapping measure, changing the name and the mission of the Game Department, anti-coyote calling, a State Environmental Policy Act, changing how the Game Commission is selected, the conservation special use valuation, adding animals like coyote to the furbearers listed in statute, an increase of the inspection fee for the New Mexico Livestock Board, feral horses… and much, much more. Surely there will be something that sparks your interest.

We will need your help on each and every day of the 60-day Session. Please set aside some time now. If you would like to be one of the 10-for-10 bill readers who help make sure that EVERY bill introduced has eyes on it, please let us know. We have no idea just how many bills will be introduced this Legislature, but it could be a lot more than we have seen in recent years.

Rural Media Comes to New Mexico

A new owner will take over the Don Imus Cattle Ranch in northern New Mexico. Rural Media Group announced its purchase of the Ribera property in late November.

Starting this spring, the ranch will be used in RFD-TV and the Cowboy Channel productions. Filming will kick off with shows like “Best of America By Horseback” and “Debbie Dunning’s Dude Ranch Round-Up.”

Early Shake-Up on NM Oil Conservation Commission

A decision by New Mexico oil and gas regulators to ease restrictions on well locations for a Texas-based company operating in one of the nation’s oldest producing basins has resulted in a shake-up on the regulatory panel and more questions from elected officials about the approval process, according to a story written by Susan Montoya. New Mexico Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn removed his agency’s appointee to the state Oil Conservation Commission after that staffer voted in favor of the request by Hilcorp Energy Co. during a November 19 hearing.

Dunn cited concerns about Hilcorp’s plans to redevelop thousands of existing wells in the San Juan Basin as the company looks to target a formation known as the Blanco-Mesaverde gas pool.

Farewell to 2018, bring on a better 2019!

It doesn’t seem possible but 2018 is coming to an end… and none too soon for me. This has been a hard year on many fronts. Randy and I have had some major health issues. I am proud to report that I am complete recovered, and Randy is really close… however he still says his back prevents him from dancing with me. We will see about that in the New Year.

We have lost too many friends and loved ones this year. Some of them whose time had come. Some of them we can only trust that the Lord needed them way too early.

The Stockman and its staff want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a better and prosperous New Year.      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, December 2018
Nov 05 2018

Picking & Choosing

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

That’s what some folks want to do with the U.S. Constitution. The President couldn’t be right in wanting to block citizenship for children born to illegal aliens in our county according to some. Yet, in their eyes, the Second Amendment doesn’t guarantee the right to bear arms.

I really don’t know what millennials were taught about the Constitution, but I would guess that many of you took the same high school classes I did. I came away believing that anyone born in the United States was automatically a citizen.

However, working for more than two decades with Karen Budd Falen, I have learned that often what isn’t said in legal document is as important as what is said. Does the 14th Amendment apply to people in our country illegally?

The wording of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment says

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

The crucial phrase is “subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” according to Mathew Spalding, associate vice president and dean of educational programs for Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship, writing in the Wall Street Journal. As originally understood when Congress proposed the amendment in 1866, that referred not merely to the obligation of following U.S. laws but also, and more important, to full political allegiance. According to Lyman Trumbull—who was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a co-author of the 14th Amendment—being “subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States” meant “not owing allegiance to anybody else.”

That reading is supported by the 1866 Civil Rights Act, also written by Trumbull, which Congress passed over President Andrew Johnson’s veto before proposing the 14th Amendment. The Supreme Court endorsed this reading in the Slaughter-House Cases (1872) and Elk v. Wilkins (1884).

Even when the justices expanded the constitutional mandate U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark (1898), the decision cited as establishing birthright citizenship, they held only that the children of legal permanent residents were automatically citizens. The high court has never held that the clause confers automatic citizenship on the children of temporary visitors, much less of aliens in the country illegally, writes Spalding.

The 14th Amendment addresses many aspects of citizenship and the rights of citizens. The most commonly used – and frequently litigated – phrase in the amendment is “equal protection of the laws”, which figures prominently in a wide variety of landmark cases, including Brown v. Board of Education (racial discrimination), Roe v. Wade (reproductive rights), Bush v. Gore (election recounts), Reed v. Reed (gender discrimination), and University of California v. Bakke (racial quotas in education).

According to Fred Thompson acting as a lawyer on television’s Law & Order, the issue in Roe v. Wade is that there is no right of privacy in the 14th Amendment. It is amazing how fast Hollywood can come up with a television show on a current topic or dig one out of the archives that address that topic.

According to a commentator on Fox News, who is also a judge, the 1898 U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark case mentioned above is the only time Section 1 has ever been litigated. It should be noted that this case involved an individual born to Chinese legal residents in the US and the individual was granted citizenship.

There is no doubt if the President moves forward with a different interpretation of this Section that there will be many court cases on this issue to clarify what was really meant by it.

The 1866 Civil Right Acts and the 14th Amendment, become law after, in Scott v. Sanford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857), the Supreme Court held that African Americans were not U.S. citizens, even if they were free.

The Fourteenth Amendment, however, guaranteed that everyone born or naturalized in the United States and under its jurisdiction would be a United States citizen. It also ensured that federal citizenship was also made primary, which meant that states could not prevent freed slaves from obtaining state citizenship and thus federal citizenship. As such, the Fourteenth Amendment effectively overturned Sanford v. Scott.

In Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U.S. 94 (1884), the Supreme Court held that children born to members of Native American tribes governed by local tribal governments were not automatically granted citizenship under the Fourteenth Amendment. Congress, however, granted citizenship to Native Americans in 1924 when it passed the Indian Citizenship Act.

This may seem like an unusual topic to spend so much time on, however, when you are born and grow up on the Mexican border where family, friends and neighbors and local governments are struggling to maintain themselves in the face of ever-increasing numbers of illegal immigrants (from all over the world) who are streaming across the border almost unchecked, it is of interest.

It is not a stretch of the imagination to say that the “anchor baby” issue, where illegals use any means possible to get to the US before they give birth, is a multi-billion dollar problem. Hospitals along the border are burdened with the cost of births, while education systems are taxed well beyond any reason to provide the education that is guaranteed to these children. This doesn’t even account for all the other public services that are afforded to people who don’t or can’t contribute to local tax bases.

I can already hear the “R” word out there. Anyone who knows me knows that couldn’t be further from the truth. Our country is a melding pot and has been for centuries. But at what point can our country and our children bear the weight of the world’s need?

It isn’t often mentioned, but immigrants were turned away from Ellis Island when they couldn’t meet the basic needs to become a citizen in the future.

Green Genocide?

There is a “green” group that proposes to eliminate Arlington, Virginia sports fields in favor of “open spaces.”  Not only do they oppose new fields, in some cases, a goal of this group is to de-commission current playing fields and convert those to open spaces. Their thinking is that Arlington’s fields are under-utilized, and that sports groups inflate their numbers and over-state their needs. They have proposed to eliminate 11 sports fields in Arlington over the next several years.

I am really confused… I thought sport fields were open space… AND do we expect less children in the future who need athletics and open space?

Mental, Emotional Abuse.

That isn’t the only thing you could call the past few months of political campaigning. There are good people running for office from both parties. I, like everyone else, have my own opinion of how I would like to see the election turn out. That’s our right as citizens of the U.S.

What’s not right is the really ugly turn of the political ads. New Mexico and Arizona have been forced to live through weeks of nothing but ugly commercials about our friends and neighbors. The campaigns in these states have drawn national attention for their defamatory statements.

If that isn’t mental and emotional abuse, I don’t know what is. I wonder if we could file a class action suit against both political parties and win damages. Or, maybe we could file suit for the obscene amounts of money that has been poured into campaigns. With all the problems around the world, we should have better things to do with our time and money.

I have harped on civility for the last few months. It is something that must be maintained at home and everywhere else you go. The divisiveness has got to stop. These mass killings at school, at places of worship, and everywhere else stem from the lack of control of one’s self.

I have said it all at least twice before and the issue has a fair amount of national attention. Surely it must be President Trump’s fault. I agree that I could live without his inflammatory tweets and statements.

But I agree that the media constantly hands him a raw deal. Just yesterday on the news there was footage of a reporter asking the President if he was a liar. I must have missed that class in journalism school.

After the Pittsburg shooting the President was asked if more protection in the synagogue might have reduced the number of people killed and injury. In response, he said that perhaps it would have helped. By the next morning partisan pundits were accusing him of blaming the victims for the shooting.

On the other hand there was a not very widely distributed interview with Hillary Clinton saying there was no way she plans on being civil.

And they wonder why people are developing a deep dislike for the media.

Cattlegrowers Foundation Update

The Cattlegrowers Foundation is celebrating its 20th year with big news. The Foundation, along with New Mexico State University (NMSU), are the recipients of a USDA Young Farmers & Ranchers Grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The three-year grant will focus on “Raising Ranchers,” the priority program for the Foundation. It will include training sessions around the state for beginning and other ranchers as well as a major seminar. Additionally, the grant will allow the purchase of portable equipment that can be used by beginning ranchers.

Work has already begun with the first meeting held in late August in conjunction with the National Reproduction Symposium hosted by NMSU. The NMSU Rancher Safety Training seminar was videoed and will soon be available on You Tube. There will some special emphasis on Raising Ranchers at the 2018 Joint Stockmen’s Convention.

Wolf Update

First, thank you to ALL the donors who contributed to the funding call to action last June. Generous members offered up $5,000 each to be matched. Thus far the endeavor raised more than $35,000!

The Federal District Court in Tucson has still has not issued a final decision in the
10 J rule case but briefs have been filed in the enviros move to try and have adult wolves released in Arizona and New Mexico immediately. We are awaiting a ruling on that issue as well.

Convention just around the corner!

As you will see as you read this magazine, the 2018 Joint Stockmen’s Convention is coming up on December 5 – 8 at the Sandia Resort just north of Albuquerque. The days are Wednesday through Saturday. This day change was made to allow us to use the new and much larger venue.

Plans are in the works for a killer meeting with a little something for everyone. The room block is now open at Sandia. The reservation deadline is November 13th. Call the Sandia Resort & Casino for room reservations 1-877-272-9199. Ask for the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association or Joint Stockmen rate of $149+ tax.

We look forward to seeing you there!      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, November 2018
Oct 02 2018

#getoverit

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

Although we have more than one Twitter account, I am not good at. Like Facebook (who kicked me off the site several years ago because I wouldn’t provide them a copy of my driver’s license and one other form of identification), it apparently eats of a huge amount time. That is verified from the messages I get on a daily basis that say something like “check out the 45 new message on Twitter that you might be interested in.”

With the frustration resulting from what’s going on around me, in the state and in the nation, I thought I had come up with a bright idea. I would come up with a new hash tag (a hash tag is what you are supposed to put at the end of a tweet that will cause others to read it) — #getoverit. Thankfully before I wrote an entire column exposing my ignorance on the subject, a quick Goggle search enlightened me with the fact that there are probably millions of tweets with that hash tag.

However, that is good news. If I start using that hash tag — as soon as I find the time to spend on it— lots and lots of people will have my tweet pop up on their feed (not be confused with the stuff you serve to your cattle and horses).

Just like the overload of information that is available on virtually anything and everything, I still haven’t got to my point. It is not news that life is short. The more time we spending carrying grudges, trying to prove WE are right and just plain being no fun to be around, the less time we have to enjoy ourselves and each other. It is alright to disagree — but that doesn’t mean it is okay to tell someone they are ugly and their mother dresses them funny.

Outrageous indignation can even be okay on rare occasions. Venting your anger might be okay. I learned a long time ago in that situation to just gut up and take it —even if I wasn’t the cause of the perceived problem.

We are all humans with a wide variety of thoughts, emotions and experiences. If we want to live the happiest life possible, we can disagree, but that is no excuse to be disagreeable. #getoverit

On Civility

Every member of the New Mexico legislature receives a complimentary issue of the Stockman. I know that at least a few of them actually read it. It might be worth investing in sending a copy to every member of Congress — if you think they might have the time to actually look at.

That is predictable on the fact that the postal service doesn’t completely fry it to make sure there are no dangerous substances on or in it. The danger that members of Congress and their staffs must live with is another sad commentary on the state of our society.

It was clear that some members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee hadn’t heard of the concept of civility and man’s inhumanity to man that I wrote about recently. I don’t care what the views of each individual are on the recent US Supreme Court nominee. Again, we all have the rights to our opinions (and we have the right to be wrong or uninformed). We should not have the right for a hearing, that was televised, to get so far out of hand that children have to be removed from the room. #getoverit

De ja vu all over again

When I was a child one of our treats was to spend time with our Nana (Irene Sproul). She was a school teacher and lived in Douglas, Arizona. Growing up in the country made going to “town” a big deal. We lived only six miles from Tombstone. When we were growing up Tombstone was a functioning community with two grocery stores, a barber, sometimes two beauty shops (known as salons today) a drug store or two, a dry cleaner, a couple of banks and at least one bar per block on the main street.

We didn’t want for anything like Tombstone does today. Of all the services I just listed, most of the bars remain, but if you need much of anything else you have to drive to Sierra Vista or Benson and I am not sure what’s left of Benson. The Circle K carries a few groceries including fresh vegetables. The last time I was in Tombstone there was another little store that had some grocery items along with a couple of gas pumps.

Douglas had many stores and a big Phelps Dodge Mercantile that had lots of groceries, clothing and I don’t remember what else, but getting to go shop at the PD was a big deal. Another feature that was fun was that Nana could have groceries delivered to her back door. That seems like a huge luxury at the time and was discontinued well before her death in the 1980s.

I think of Nana every time I see an ad in any format touting ordering your groceries online and having them delivered to your home. That delivery isn’t the new idea people seem to think it is. The only thing new is that you order online rather than making a phone call.

This phenomenon is happening in lots of sectors. When I was in high school there were mandatory home economics classes. I am not sure, but I think taking one semester was required. Cooking was a big part of that class. Eventually those classes were eliminated because of the perception that home skills were no longer necessary.

Today you can look at a “how to cook” show on television at virtually any hour of the day. Some of them have worked their way into prime-time scheduling. There are shows featuring children and now there are commercials for some food stuffs that are advertising their own cooking instructions like “Cooking with Uncle Ben.”

For a while it was unpopular to be a homemaker (not to be confused with the community clubs of yesteryear). To be a producing member of society you had to receive a pay check from an outside source. Ship the kids off day care and school at the earliest age possible and become a “complete” person. That day care is now often more expensive than an outside paycheck pays. Parents are opting to home school their children rather than sending them off to schools that don’t seem to be able to educate many students to be functioning citizens who are candidates for jobs or higher education.

I am not knocking public schools or the wonderful people who teach in them. It is no secret that we, as Americans, value football, basketball and baseball players higher than just about any profession. They make millions while the teachers we trust our children to stretch to get by.

Hopefully valuing people for the unique skills, they offer will come back in style just like home delivered groceries.

Hoping isn’t enough

With another election upon us, I cannot count the number of times I have heard “I sure hope (Candidate X) wins, but I don’t know how that is going to happen.”

I can tell you how that is going to happen. It will happen when you and everyone else takes responsibility for getting that person elected.

What might that responsibility entail? It can be donating money, making phone calls, knocking on doors, or putting up signs on your fences. It can also be making sure that EVERYONE you know understands who your candidate is, what they stand for and why it is so necessary for them to be elected.

One idea that costs little time and NO money is to post the reasons that your candidate is needed on Facebook or tweeting that message on Twitter. There are several other social media platforms that can be used, but we have exhausted my knowledge in that arena.

If 100 people made such posts or tweets you might be surprised the influence that you can have if you devote just a little effort. If you made that effort a couple of times a week for the next month the payoff could be big.

Of course, getting out the vote in early voting or on Election Day in imperative. Senior citizen facilities often need help in getting ballots turned in or driving folks to the polls. Use your imagination and get the job done. Hope is great… action is better.

2018 Joint Stockmen’s Convention

Hopefully you have read or heard by now the that the Joint Stockmen’s Convention has grown enough that we have the need for a larger facility. The 2018 Convention is scheduled for December 5 through 9 at the Sandia Resort on the north side of Albuquerque just off I-25.

Please note that the Convention will commence on Wednesday and finish on Saturday morning with the Worship Service. The room block at Sandia is open now. Please make your reservations early. Ask for the Joint Stockmen’s Convention or New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association rate of $149 plus tax. This is a higher rate, but it will be worth it.

There is room for a larger Trade Show, more meeting space, along with more restaurants and entertainment and other amenities.      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, October 2018
Sep 01 2018

Animal Crackers fall prey to animal rightists.

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

Destroying the circus wasn’t enough for PETA. In an article entitled “Nabisco Forced to Uncage Animal Crackers” author Greg Henderson on www.porkbusiness.com , wrote “the beasts on boxes of animal crackers have been turned loose. Under pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Nabisco has redesigned packaging of Nabisco’s Barnum’s Animal crackers removing – after more than a century – the cages.

PETA, which has been protesting the use of animals in circuses for more than 30 years, also had their sights set on Nabisco’s cracker boxes. In 2016, PETA wrote to Mondelez International, the parent company of Nabisco, with a mockup design without bars and an explanation that circuses often mistreat animals. Illinois, where Mondelez has its headquarters, became the first U.S. state to ban circuses with elephant shows at the start of this year.”

“Given the egregious cruelty inherent in circuses that use animals and the public’s swelling opposition to the exploitation of animals used for entertainment, we urge Nabisco to update its packaging in order to show animals who are free to roam in their natural habitats,” PETA said in its letter.

The redesign of the boxes, now on U.S. store shelves, retains the familiar red and yellow coloring and prominent “Barnum’s Animals” lettering. But instead of showing the animals in cages – implying that they’re traveling in boxcars for the circus – the new boxes feature a zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe and gorilla wandering side-by-side in a grassland.

MGM Sues Las Vegas Massacre Survivors

In another outrage, in mid-July dozens of survivors of last year’s mass shooting in Las Vegas have started to receive some startling legal notices, according to a LA Times story by By Matt Pearce, Richard Winton  and David Montero.

“A lawsuit has been filed against you,” the notices say.

The plaintiff? MGM Resorts International, the casino and hotel company, owner of both the fairgrounds where 58 people were shot to death at a country music festival and the Mandalay Bay Hotel, where the gunman perched himself on the 32nd floor to carry out the October 1, 2017 massacre.

In a bold legal maneuver, MGM has sued survivors to claim immunity under a federal law passed in the wake of September 11 that was designed to protect corporations from lawsuits after terrorist attacks. Experts said it was the first time such a lawsuit had ever been filed under the law.

MGM is facing lawsuits from more than 2,500 people after the massacre, which also wounded hundreds.

Survivors, backed by high-profile attorneys, have said the company did not do enough to prevent the attack or limit the extent the harm.

To defend itself, the company is turning to the little-known federal statute called the Safety Act, passed by Congress in 2002 to limit the liability of companies that provide anti-terrorism services.

The idea was that companies might not introduce new security technologies designed to thwart terrorist attacks if the companies would then face expensive — and potentially business-ending — lawsuits when those technologies fail to stop killings.

So policymakers offered companies a deal: With approval for their services by the Department of Homeland Security, they are protected from terrorism-related lawsuits.

“They’re basically giving you a get-out-jail-free card for something that hasn’t happened yet,” said Bob Karl, a managing partner for Safety Act Consultants, a Milwaukee firm that advises companies seeking Safety Act designations.

Safety Act designations can be an attractive legal protection for event and security companies. In recent years, several National Football League and Major League Baseball stadiums have obtained them.

So did Contemporary Services Corp., also known as CSC, the contractor that provided security for MGM during the music festival.

The company prominently features its Safety Act designation on its website.

MGM is arguing in two federal lawsuits against the survivors — filed in Nevada and California — that the hotel company is, by extension, shielded from the survivors’ lawsuits, because of the terrorism law’s protections. The statute also requires that related litigation be pursued in federal courts.

In a statement, MGM Resorts spokeswoman Debra DeShong suggested that its lawsuits would ultimately help the victims.

“The federal court is an appropriate venue for these cases and provides those affected with the opportunity for a timely resolution,” the statement said. “Years of drawn-out litigation and hearings are not in the best interest of victims, the community and those still healing.”

Though the Safety Act is aimed at terrorist attacks, MGM argued that the federal statute is written broadly enough to include mass shootings where the motive is unknown, such as the Vegas massacre.

MGM’s lawsuits referred to statements made in November by Elaine Duke, who was acting secretary of U.S. Department of Homeland Security: She “noted the emphasis of ‘terrorists and other violent criminals … on attacking soft targets,’ including ‘recent tragedies in Nevada.’”

Karl, the Safety Act expert, said he believes the lawsuits are the first of their kind and could lead to a highly public throw-down between victims and MGM.

“That whole thing is going to be a mess,” Karl said. “The only people who will come out of it well is high-priced attorneys.”

MGM drew backlash as news spread of the company suing survivors.

Craig Eiland, an attorney for several victims, said the attempt by MGM to insulate itself from a lawsuit using the Safety Act was “unprecedented.”

“CSC had nothing to do with Mandalay Bay not having security stop Stephen Paddock from unloading luggage with 23 assault rifles, carrying them up to his room and not noticing anything for three to five days,” Eiland said. “They had nothing to do with allowing him to deadbolt the stairwell — all of these things. And Mandalay Bay is saying because this yellow T-shirt company got this safety designation, everybody is immune?”

Mark Robinson, an Orange County attorney who represents hundreds of potential plaintiffs against MGM, called the company’s behavior “outrageous.”

“They are re-victimizing the victims and their families,” Robinson said, adding that MGM had asked for a list of clients he represented and that after receiving it MGM “responded by suing them all.”

Oh What a Difference…

A decade or two makes. In 1990, movie star Kevin Costner had a huge hit directing and starring in the moving Dances with Wolves. Dubbed a “American Epic” at a time when Westerns were out of fashion, the movie was over three hours in length and came in millions of dollars over budget. However, in the end the movie made over $400 million.

Costner is currently involved in what may be an epic television series that has him as a multi-generation Montana rancher who isn’t dancing with wolves — he is in a fight for the future with wolves, developers and water grabbers, oil operations, a near-by Indian reservation, recreations who want land use only for themselves, and even his family.

Yellowstone just finished its first season on the Paramount Channel and is available on Netflix. It is worth the time to watch it. While there is more violence than necessary, Costner is a meaner patriarch than necessary, and the language isn’t fit for public consumption, once in awhile it is as close to real as any film depiction I have seen.

On the subject of profanity…

There was a debate on Fox News the other day about whether or not the f-word is profanity. It was mind boggling. The lack of civility in our speech is appalling and even scary. If we don’t have the vocabulary to find a word to express our sentiments, we all better start carrying dictionaries around.

The unbelievable one-liners…

On another news network they were touting the next story – the headline was “On the investigation of the Russian investigation.” Does anyone but me think that no matter what the story was, the whole thing is ridiculous?

Another line that has been bandied around a lot since President Trump made a statement that the media is the enemy of the people is “Free press is not the enemy of the people.” Newspapers across the country published editorials in mid-August making that statement. The effort, initiated by the Boston Globe, has brought both positive and negative attention.

For my two cents, the President didn’t say a free press is an enemy, he said the media. That may be distinction without a difference, but a press that is biased can be an enemy. If news outlets reported the news rather than making it, there wouldn’t be a need for this entire conversation.

Drug Residue Story is ‘Pseudoscience’ & ‘Scare Tactics’

In a strongly worded official statement released in late August, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA )Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) Acting Deputy Under Secretary Carmen Rottenberg took issue with the conclusions of a newly published Consumer Reports (CR) article that suggests that banned or restricted drugs may appear in the U.S. meat supply more often than was previously known according to a story on meatingplace.com by Julie Larson Bricher.

“You may have seen a Consumer Reports story claiming that the poultry and meat you purchase in the grocery store and feed your families could contain harmful drug residues,” Rottenberg wrote in the FSIS statement. “That is not true. This story is sensational and fear-based infotainment aimed at confusing shoppers with pseudoscience and scare tactics.”

The article, “Are Banned Drugs in Your Meat?”, asserts that data obtained from the agency via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request show that trace amounts of prohibited drugs — including ketamine, phenylbutazone and chloramphenicol — were found in meat and poultry samples taken between October 2015 and September 2016. Based on analysis by CR’s food safety scientists, the report calls into question FSIS drug residue testing methods and acceptable level cutoffs and accuses the agency of “failing to ensure that meat is free of potentially unsafe drug residue.” 

In her response, Rottenberg stated that the FOIA data on which the CR report is based are misleading.

“On March 3, 2017, in our haste to be transparent and responsive, we mistakenly released in response to a FOIA request, unconfirmed, preliminary test results for samples taken from poultry,” she wrote. “We corrected our mistake with the requestor. However, the unconfirmed sampling results continue to be passed around as accurate, truthful information – they are not.”

FSIS performed the complete screening and testing process on all the samples represented, wrote Rottenberg

“The final, confirmed and validated test results show that there were no drug residues in the chicken. If violative drug residues are found in any meat or poultry product, FSIS does not allow that product to be sold for human food.

“Consumer Reports admits in their closing paragraph that the real agenda behind this piece is to convince Americans to eat less meat,” she added. “Shame on Consumer Reports for attempting to advance a rhetoric that lacks scientific support or data, at the expense of American producers and the 9,000 food safety professionals who ensure the safety of meat and poultry in this country every day.”

Wayne Pacelle Returns Despite #Metoo Claims

Wayne Pacelle is back on Capitol Hill lobbying for an animal rights agenda, according to Greg Henderson.

The former president of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) who was forced to resign in February over sexual harassment allegations, is working for a friend’s PAC (political action committee) lobby for animal welfare issues on Capitol Hill. Despite efforts to keep a low-profile, Pacelle’s re-emergence with the PAC Animal Wellness Action has stirred friction with HSUS.

According to Politico, legal action is under consideration by HSUS because Pacelle had a non-compete clause in his contract. A memo obtained by Politico says, “The board leadership is aware of the situation and will be considering our options.”

Animal Wellness Action was registered in May by David Harvilicz, a lawyer and entrepreneur. Politico reported the new PAC already had deep ties with HSUS as Marty Irby, a former HSUS executive who oversaw its rural equine protect ion and rural outreach departments, is now Animal Wellness Action’s executive director.

Pacelle’s resignation came after an investigation into claims of sexual misconduct by three HSUS employees. Days before stepping down, Pacelle told The Washington Post, “I absolutely deny any suggestion that I did anything untoward.”      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, September 2018
Aug 20 2018

Lack of civility… or is it man’s inhumanity to man?

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

Is it too much national news? Are manners of any kind ancient history? Do we even know what respect and self-respect are anymore? Can we no longer have an opinion that differs with anyone else without being evil? Is the art of agreeing to disagree lost?

At the national level clearly there are no longer any rules of civility. Just tune in to any news broadcast and you will see people calling the President and others liars. People claiming he is evil just because they disagree with him. We see well-funded marches across the country to protest what appears to be the best economic change in decades.

Some of it is a lack of knowledge, but I fear most of it is disinformation with malice of forethought.

I think I have become almost numb to the national stuff, but what causes me despair is when folks I have known, liked and worked with for literally decades sink into shouting matches and name calling or calling someone a liar in a room full of people. I probably use that word way too often and will do better — unless you have worked to earn the title.

The cattle industry in the Southwest has been here for centuries. Our families have been friends and neighbors over that same period. Now, when we have less people in our circles, it is not time to circle the wagons, aim and fire. We have plenty of groups that take great glee when we cannot get along.

Let’s not hand them anymore ammunition.

Drop that straw and put your hands up!

2018 will forever be remembered as the year that hating plastic straws went mainstream. Once the lonely cause of environmental cranks, now everyone wants to eliminate these suckers from daily life, according to Christian Britschgi, Assistant Editor at reason.com.

In July, 2018, Seattle imposed America’s first ban on plastic straws. Vancouver, British Columbia, passed a similar ban a few months earlier. There are active attempts to prohibit straws in New York City, Washington, D.C., Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco, CA. A-list celebrities from Calvin Harris to Tom Brady have lectured us on giving up straws. Both National Geographic and The Atlantic have run long profiles on the history and environmental effects of the straw. Vice is now treating their consumption as a dirty, hedonistic excess.

A California coastal city has become the latest municipality to ban plastic straws, enacting what is potentially the strictest plastic prohibition in the country. Santa Barbara earlier this month passed the ordinance authorizing hefty fines and even a possible jail sentence for violators who dole out plastic straws at restaurants, bars and other food establishments.

According to the ordinance, violators on their first offense will be given a written warning notice. But the second time a purveyor of plastic straws defies the ban is when the heavy hand of the law could clamp down.

In that case, the ordinance cites penalties from the city’s municipal code for a “fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), imprisonment for a term not exceeding six (6) months.”

In comparison, Seattle, which in the beginning of July became the first major city in the U.S. to ban plastic straws, only fines businesses $250 per offense.

Not to be outdone by busybody legislators, Starbucks, the nation’s largest food and drink retailer, announced that it would be going strawless.

The coffee giant says that by 2020 it hopes to have eliminated all single-use plastic straws at its 28,000 stores worldwide. It will now top all its cold drinks with fancy new strawless lids that the company currently serves with its cold brew nitro coffees. (Frappuccinos will still be served with a compostable or paper straw.)

As is to be expected, Starbucks’ decision was greeted with universal adulation.

Yet missing from this fanfare was the inconvenient fact that by ditching plastic straws, Starbucks will actually be increasing its plastic use. As it turns out, the new nitro lids that Starbucks is leaning on to replace straws are made up of more plastic than the company’s current lid/straw combination.

Right now, Starbucks patrons are topping most of their cold drinks with either 3.23 grams or 3.55 grams of plastic product, depending on whether they pair their lid with a small or large straw. The new nitro lids meanwhile weigh either 3.55 or 4.11 grams, depending again on lid size.

(I got these results by measuring Starbucks’ plastic straws and lids on two separate scales, both of which gave me the same results, said Britschgi)

This means customers are at best breaking even under Starbucks’ strawless scheme, or they are adding between .32 and .88 grams to their plastic consumption per drink. Given that customers are going to use a mix of the larger and smaller nitro lids, Starbucks’ plastic consumption is bound to increase, although it’s anybody’s guess as to how much.

Can we (who can afford it) go back to fur???

Not to be outdone in the assault on plastics, the Animal Activist Watch bailed in with “Fake Fur is Plastic Poison, Research Finds.” The lead was buried at the end of the story with “The tests also looked at the average biodegradation of a number of natural products and found that real fur degrades at the same rate as an oak or willow tree leaf.” Imagine that.

The synthetic fibers of fake fur do not biodegrade, experts have found. The findings are a blow to other animal rights activists who claim fake fur is environmentally friendly.

They examined how both real and fake fur degraded in conditions set up to mimic closed landfill conditions. Natural fur samples biodegraded swiftly, starting to disintegrate within days as microorganisms consumed the carbon inside the fur. But fake fur showed no biodegradation at all.

According to the researchers, this was not unexpected due to the composition of the synthetic fibers. In addition, synthetic fur materials are also known to break down into ever-smaller pieces, eventually forming microplast fibers—a major contributor to plastic pollution.

More Social Engineering…

Do you regularly heat up leftovers in plastic food-storage containers? Do you put plastic reusable water bottles in the dishwasher when they need a deep clean? A new study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics highlights food safety mistakes that many people may be making, without understanding the consequences. According to digitaltrends.com, the study outlines an increasing amount of evidence that points to the dangers of food packaging materials, especially plastic.

The study advises people against microwaving food in plastic containers or placing plastic containers in the dishwasher, as these habits can cause the plastic material to release harmful chemicals. BPA serves as a hardening ingredient in plastic, and it has been associated with adverse health effects, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. BPA exposure or ingestion can also cause harm to fertility, the immune system, and even body fat percentage, according to the AAP. Plastic materials that have recycling codes 3, 6, and 7 — corresponding to phthalates, styrene, and bisphenols, respectively — should also be avoided. The AAP reminds parents that the consequences of exposure to dangerous chemicals may be particularly harmful for children, as their bodies are still in the process of developing.

And, oh by the way, they recommend choosing whole foods over processed food also to reduce risk of contamination, as well as washing hands and produce during food preparation.

Finally, a grain of truth

As the US Department of the Interior begins work on revising endangered species regulations, some media is once again in a frenzy about the world going extinct if even a comma is changed in anything relative to the Endangered Species Act.

The Washington Post ran an article by Kristoffer Whitney, an assistant professor in the department of Science, Technology and Society at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The story is way too long to reprint and the vast majority of it about how the world will come to an end if we change anything regarding endangered species.

The subhead on the story did however make a startling admission. “The ESA does control land use…” but in at least the writer’s opinion that’s okay because he and many other believe that controlling land, and thus people, is “essential to protecting species.”

Fall NMCGA Board Meeting

The Fall Board meeting will be held in Santa Rosa on September 17 and 18. Meetings will be held at the Blue Hole Convention Center and all NMCGA members are welcome to attend.

Additionally the NMCGA is inviting anyone who sits on the board of directors of an agricultural organization to participate in the Board Training being offered at 1:30 p.m. on the 17th. The IRS is increasing the responsibilities of board members and everyone needs to be aware of them.

Watch for registration materials in the mail or your email, contact the nmcga@nmagriculture.org or call the NMCGA office for details.

Special thanks to all our wolf litigation donors!      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, August 2018

Multimin Health