Farm Credit
Apr 01 2018

Cowboy-isms … & Sexual Harassment

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

In these days of hyper sensitivity about real or perceived sexual harassment, there are things that cowboys need to be aware of. Not everyone appreciates or understands the statement that “someone has been rode hard and put up wet” the way you do.

A little web research indicates that the problem is that this cowboy-ism was hijacked in the 1970s that put a whole different connotation to the statement. I need not do much more explanation.

It seems that there are a lot of terms we in the West use with great regularity that we might reconsider how they sound to an urbanite or a millennial. Cowboys have a way of looking at things a little differently than the rest of the world. Their wisdom is simpler and more down to Earth, one website says.

  • If you get thrown from a horse, you have to get up and get back on, unless you landed on a cactus; then you have to roll around and scream in pain.
  • A cowboy is a man with guts and a horse.
  • If you climb in the saddle, be ready for the ride.
  • The horse stopped with a jerk – and the jerk fell off!
  • When in doubt, let your horse do the thinkin’.
  • Speak your mind, but ride a fast horse.
  • Don’t squat with your spurs on.
  • Don’t let your yearnings get ahead of your earnings.
  • Don’t dig for water under the outhouse.
  • Don’t go in if you don’t know the way out.
  • Don’t mess with something that ain’t bothering you.
  • Never drive black cattle in the dark.
  • Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from any direction.
  • Never miss a good chance to shut up.
  • Never slap a man who’s chewing tobacco.
  • If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.
  • It’s better to keep your mouth shut and look stupid than open it and prove it.
  • When you give a lesson in meanness to a critter or a person, don’t be surprised if they learn their lesson.

Nuff said.

Humane Society of the United States taking hard fall

Things just keep getting worse following the sexual harassment scandal at the Humane Society of the United States. Following the resignations of CEO Wayne Pacelle and Vice President Paul Shapiro earlier this year, the “charity” has now lost its accreditation from the Better Business Bureau’s charity-accreditation arm, the Wise Giving Alliance (BBB WGA), according to Humane Watch. This news comes after Charity Navigator downgraded its rating of HSUS to just 2 stars out of 4—including a lowly 1 star for financial metrics, indicative of financial waste at the nonprofit. Animal Charity Evaluators, which recommends animal-rights nonprofits, has formally rescinded their 2016 Standout recommendation of The Humane Society of the United States’ Farm Animal Protection Campaign.

While the BBB hasn’t issued a statement for the removal of HSUS’s accreditation, it’s safe to assume the HSUS board’s initial decision to retain Pacelle after its internal investigation turned up several credible accusations of sexual harassment was the impetus for BBB WGA to initiate a review.

HSUS’s accreditation drop should serve as a wakeup call to charity donors, according to Arizonan Mike Russell writing to KTARNEWS. Charities might not be what they seem.

To be clear HSUS is NOT the Humane Society of Arizona or any other state. HSUS pulls in $150,000,000 per year in part because they know that donors are giving, thinking that the money will funnel down to the state level. This is not the case. HSUS knows this is the intent of their donors yet lends very little help to the struggling animals.

HSUS is working in Arizona, gathering signatures for a ballot initiative that will leave animal population control up to the voters. It will also take that responsibility out of the hands of the trained biologists that are effectively managing healthy populations of more animal species than any other non-coastal state in the nation. They are masked sweetly as “Arizonans for Wildlife.”

It’s actually the HSUS operating under a different name. Once again, not what they seem. But the title “Arizonans for Wildlife” sounds like something that everyone in Arizona can get behind and HSUS knows that. They also know that rallying cries like “Arizonans for Wildlife” works almost as well as tugging at your heartstrings.

Heartstrings are tied to your purse strings. Getting to those heartstrings costs a lot of money. Producing ads for radio or TV is not cheap. The airtime on both mediums is even more expensive. But those ads that we see of scared, cold, and hungry puppy dogs work and nonprofits like HSUS know this. They will spend millions of donated dollars to draw in more donated dollars.

Charity Watch reports that HSUS spends $22 to raise $100. That’s a big chunk that could actually be used by local Humane Societies to save the scared, cold, and hungry puppy dogs that HSUS uses to tug at your purse string connected heartstrings.

If you have done some homework before giving to a charity…good for you. You are in a very small group of philanthropists. If you have not, don’t worry…you are not alone.

Doing the RIGHT homework means going the extra mile before donating. If you are thinking about heading over to the Better Business Bureau to check out your charitable target…you might want to read about the BBB coming under fire for receiving thousands from the charities that it rates.

Keep in mind that the BBB is a business and consumers are the product. The rated businesses are the BBB’s clients. Those stickers and web banners are bought by businesses that are paying membership to the BBB. Sites like Charity Navigator and Charity Watch seem to have their act together.

New Plan to Deal With Coyotes

But not in New Mexico or even the West. North Carolina is dealing with a growing coyote population across that state. The growth is most noticed in urban areas where one neighborhood has lost 22 cats and a Yorkie in a short period of time. Calls for coyote control are peaking because a coyote has attacked a 9-year-old girl.

Officials with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission say coyote attacks on people and pets are pretty rare – especially when the attacks are unprovoked. But they do admit they’re seeing a spike across the state.

The North Carolina General Assembly asked the wildlife commission to look at the impacts and threats coyotes have on people, pets, livestock and other wildlife. A new North Carolina report outlines ways to manage the coyote population. It focuses on educating people about the animals, ways to avoid coyote encounters altogether and handle them properly, and encourages legal hunting and trapping. Some people don’t think these measures go far enough.

“Instead of spending all those months coming up with ‘trying to educate us,’” said one resident. “We know all of that. They need to get a plan in place to get rid of the coyotes. They need to step up to the bat.”

She thinks coyotes are more than just a nuisance; she called them downright dangerous.

“They need to be dead, because they’re just going to multiply and multiply, and I hate to say that about an animal, but it’s an animal that’s attacking a child now,” she said.

Perhaps with the growing incidence of coyote attacks people can come to the conclusion that predator management is something that must be done routinely.

The Bitter Pill

On March 23, 2018 the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee was presented with a report entitled “Program Evaluation: The Modern-Day Role of the Agriculture Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service.” The report is #18-02 and can be found on the Legislature’s website under the Legislative Finance Committee, which is an interim committee. We will soon put it up on the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association website along with some additional, clarifying information.

I encourage everyone to find and read the document, then consider the consequences of such negative view of one of New Mexico’s major industries and the lifeblood of the vast majority of the lands in this state. It probably isn’t too much to say that this report is an indictment of agriculture and the land grant university we depend on.

Ostensibly the report was requested because New Mexico State University’s Agricultural Experiment Stations (AES) and Cooperative Extension Service (CES) were not spending all of the funds available to them annually. In the case of AES, for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, the entity spent about $5 million less than budgeted by the state. CES spent about the same amount less as well.

One who is charged with taking care of themselves and perhaps others might think that being thrifty or frugal might be an excellent quality. No so with government, the more you spend the more you get. That is a really scary thought when you consider that government spending is one of New Mexico’s top economic drivers.

But I digress. The Finance Committee wanted an in-depth review of the two areas of NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences (ACES) to determine if it could, in dry budget years sweep more funds from them. NMSU suffered some pretty severe sweeps since 2008.

Red lights started flashing on page two, where there is recommendation that AES and CES “need to be more responsive to the changing needs of all of New Mexicans, not just their traditional stakeholder communities.”

On page 23, the report notes “extension still focuses a significant portion of its financial resources and human capital on agriculture… despite agriculture only accounting for 2.6 percent of the total state employment and 1.3 percent of gross state product.” I don’t think those numbers are quite correct and will continue reaching, but even if agriculture only accounted for 2.5 percent of state employment, I think it is a pretty safe bet that 100 percent of the state’s people count on agriculture three or more times a day.

Not to be completely negative, on page 9 notes that AES and CES payments for “institutional support” to NMSU have grown approximately 500 percent between FY 2008 and FY 2017. This has been an issue that the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) and others have complained bitterly and worked endlessly to stop. “Intuitional support” are the funds that the University skims from the various colleges and departments for using buildings, telephones and so on. As budgets were cut over the last nine years the intuitional charges have increased.

Page 7 waves a huge red flag where it says “Notably absent from … top funders are groups representing dairy and beef producers ad forage crop producers.” Further into the report there is a recommendation to eliminate support for these groups. Page 26 says CES should “consider conducting less agricultural research on established agricultural industries (e.g. forge crops, beef cattle) if associated commodity groups are unable to contribute meaningful monetary support for said research, and instead, focus its research agenda on nascent and emerging industries.” (Yes, I had to look up nascent.)

It was also interesting to learn that “home economics and household management are now not necessarily a core skill for managing a household.” (Page 22) Hello! How long would it take to do a Google search on “Foodies?” You know, the groups that are all about local foods, new recipes and refocusing on the home.

While assessing the need for Agricultural Experiments Stations is already underway, the report recommends that the College of ACES consider eliminating one-third of those stations to bring itself into line with peer organizations – like North Dakota State University, Oklahoma State University, Auburn University, Mississippi State University, Montana State University, University of Wyoming and Utah State University.

The report questioned the need for a new feed mill on campus where there is one in Clayton that needs repair. Sure, let’s figure out how much that feed will cost factoring in transportation costs.

But the topper on page 18 is the recommendation that CES administrators should conduct a feasibility study on potential fees for 4-H and other programing and develop clear guidelines for county offices on charging fees.”

I freely admit that I am reviewing this report through a very negative lens. Hopefully there is some value to all the work that has gone in to it. But I don’t see what can offset the issues I have mentioned.

Thankfully, the Legislative Finance Committee was filled with representatives and senators who do understand and appreciate the value of agriculture to New Mexico and the value of our land grant university. Most of them politely, yet firming offered their support to agriculture and NMSU.      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, April 2018
Mar 03 2018

Giddy Up

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

The last few weeks have been all about horses. The State of Arizona and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have even come up with new terminology for unclaimed horses that don’t fit the federal the federal definition of a “wild” horse or don’t like the commonly used word “feral” — they are now free-roaming horses. This is a term that might be worth remembering.

Arizona and the USFS have come up with a plan to deal with the “Salt River Horses” that have been roaming near Phoenix for years. In the past years the horse herd has been the center of great controversy. While some of those horses may have been in the area for years, it appears that there are also horses being dumped in the area. There is one story of a horse in the herd with a rope around its neck with papers attached. For details on the agreement see the article on page 55.

Meanwhile back in New Mexico, the Navajo Nation issued a proclamation to allow horse hunting on a part of the Nation. Trial members could purchase a permit for $5. Non-tribal members could get one for $10. The goal was to reduce a horse herd by 60 to protect wildlife in the area.

However, once the proclamation was issued followed by a media outcry, the proclamation was withdrawn. It remains to be seen if there will be another one issued.

The feral horses impounded by the New Mexico Livestock Board (NMLB), per state statute, a small group of horses near Alto in Lincoln County in August 2016 are back in the news. Per a Lincoln County District Court decision, the NMLB was ordered to return the horses to Alto with a group of individuals in the area taking responsibility for the care and feeding of the animal.

This order has thrown the ability of the NMLB to manage horses that are running loose into limbo. In 2017 the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) attempted to pass legislation to rectify the situation so that loose horses could be continued to be managed for the protection of human health and safety by the NMLB. That didn’t happen because even the wild horse advocates couldn’t even agree on what they wanted out of the bill.

Since September 2016 those horses have been held in stalls with runs being hand fed every bite. There have been three foals born since that time. The group of folks caring of those horses has dwindled to only a few and they are worn out physically, emotionally and financially.

The litigation in 2016 was brought by the Wild Horse Observers Association (WHOA) a litigious Placitas-based group. WHOA undertook a fundraising to provide for the care of horses. However, now there are allegations that the money didn’t make it to the people charged with the care of the horses. The allegations are that the funds raised have been spent on the litigation. WHOA is currently on their third attorney in the case. The NMLB has also had a change of representation due to the resignation of their attorney in 2017.

On February 26 the Lincoln County judge heard a motion from the few folks left taking care of the horses to release them from the obligation of that care. The folks asked that they be allowed to adopt out the horses because they are humanized after their confinement and can no longer be turned out in the “wild.” In the alternative, they asked that the NMLB take the horses back.

The judge ordered that the horses be taken into custody jointly by the NMLB and WHOA, with the two equally splitting the cost of care until May. A trial will be held between May 14 and 18 to determine the outcome of the WHOA lawsuit filed back in 2016. You may want to mark those dates your calendar and plan a trip to the Lincoln County Courthouse in Carrizozo.

The Range Improvement Task Force at New Mexico State University is working to bring the various interests involved with the issue of overpopulation of feral and/or wild. The endeavor started in the fall of 2017 with a meeting in Albuquerque bringing together largely tribes and pueblos from across the state along with horse owners.

The message was clear from that meeting. There is a tremendous overpopulation on many reservations across the state. On the Navajo Nation alone there are at least 40,000 to 50,000 unwanted horses that are doing dramatic harm to the range and to wildlife who depend upon it. There were dramatic photos of starving mares with emaciated foals as well as horses driving elk off watering holes.

At this writing the second meeting of group is in progress. This time the animal rights horse advocates are at the table. As you might imagine, the room is filled with tension and strong differences of opinions.

Sitting in the back of the room by the door, it seems clear that there is little chance for there to be an agreed up solution. The reasons are many but the bottom line is that there is no appreciation for facts, truth or science from the animal rights advocates.  Furthermore, they come in with their non-negotiable bottom lines that stifle any discussion of solutions, short or long term. Additionally there is little to no respect for anyone else’s education, experience, education or point of view.

There is wide discussion of government funding birth control and even paying ranchers for reducing their cattle or sheep numbers in favor running horses for the government. First, where does the money come for this? Second, what about the natural resource damage horses cause on the range?

We had a whole presentation about horse “families.” I won’t go back through my thoughts on that subject. I wrote about that recently. Families don’t live happily forever after in any species.

Preposterous statements are often made with no consideration of reality. Unfortunately, this is the case in the vast majority controversial processes that we participate in. If you come to the table with hard lines already drawn, there is no chance of agreement. Those lines always demand that natural resources give up something. That has been the case with the anti groups as well as often the federal government.

As Bud Eppers stated decades ago, there must be give and take. If you enter a room with a pie and give up a piece of that pie, how long will that last until you are out of pie?

We have another day of this symposium. Check in next month to see if anything interesting happens.

In closing, I must share what I found to be the quote of the morning. “Agriculture is not a growing industry,” according to the founder of WHOA. Clearly, this is wrong on so many levels. We grow food and fiber every day. Ag statistics tell us that there are more people involved in agriculture over the past decade.

Sadly the population is growing fast enough that less than 1.5 percent of Americans are directly involved in “growing things.”

The Memorial Legislative Session…

With a few notable exceptions, this was a pretty calm and uneventful Session. Thankfully revenues are up and there was much less animosity in developing a budget. Work was done to begin to restore funds and agencies whose reserves have been swept in the last few years and new projects were back on the table.

There were many bills passed that, at press time, are waiting for action from the Governor. There were a bunch of memorials passed, too.

There were two issues that the NMCGA devoted a lot of time and energy to. One that got by us and another that was laid to rest at least for the short term.

The pet food tax was one that we opposed, which earned the statement that the NMCGA would forever be responsible for actions of feral dogs. The initial bill proposed that the New Mexico Department of Agriculture raise pet food licensing fees from $2 to $100 per product.                                                             Then by some unknown process, these additional fees will be transferred to the Veterinary Board’s animal sheltering committee to pay for the spaying and neutering clinics across the state to reduce the population of feral dogs (that is still an okay term to use regarding dogs and cats). The billed called for large counties to get more of this money than small counties.

The proponents of the bill claimed that would not raise the price of pet foods and even if it did, everyone should be able to afford it.

Those against the bill believe that the fee will quickly become a tax and will lead to the elimination of products available for pets in New Mexico.

Bottom line it is a T-A-X.

The other issue was the creation of a special use valuation for conservation for land coming out of agriculture. This measure aims directly at the heart of rural communities and families. Although the Western Lands Alliance claimed that the bill would create something like 2,600 jobs and over a billion dollars in new revenue, there was no data supplied to support that claim.

There were numerous claims about the bill that have not been supported by any facts and a wide variety of rationales to support the need. One of the original reasons for the bill in 2017 was to provide assistance to small landowners who can no longer maintain any sort of agriculture on their land. Interestingly enough, the 2018 bill created a minimum of 10 acres to even be able to participate in the program. 

In an effort to compromise, as directed by some legislators, NMCGA and others have suggested putting a cap on the amount of acre that could qualify for the special use valuation. The number we were thinking about was 160 acres. That would help the small landowners, right?

That is one of those non-negotiables that prohibit any compromise.

Many believe the Western Landowners Alliance is a simple group that is here to help ranchers. I might suggest that you spend a little time on their website, look at their Board of Directors, and draw your own conclusions.

New Mexico Elections Just Around the Corner

The State Primary Election is slated for June 5, 2018. All state-wide offices are up for election as the New Mexico House of Representatives, the U.S. House of Representatives and one U.S. Senate seat. There are numerous county offices that will be elected in November 2018.

NOW is the time to get to know the candidates at all levels. Many of the seats have primary contests.

But please do know who is running and what they stand for. Do their principles agree with yours? Are they sympathetic to your needs? Will they stand up for you against “popular” opinion?

When you find those that will, get out your checkbook and help them. Even $5 will help. Help them reach out to your friends and neighbors and let them know what you have learned or create an opportunity to introduce them.

Every vote makes a difference. Yours could be the one that put reasonable people in office.

Not too early to plan… 

The 2018 Mid Year Meeting of the NMCGA, the New Mexico CowBelles, the New Mexico Federal lands Council and this year the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts is scheduled for June 10 through 12 at the Ruidoso Convention Center, along with the Annual Meeting of the New Mexico Wool Growers, Inc.

The headquarters hotel is the Lodge and it will likely fill up pretty quickly. The convention room rate is $109 plus tax for a double. Call soon to make reserve your room.

The agenda is shaping up to be good one, including a presentation on the ELD/CDL regulatory problems, a statewide candidate forum and a whole lot more!  Registration material will be in the mail in the next few weeks.

Hope your will join us!      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, March 2018
Feb 02 2018

Maybe the Russians Did Do It

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Bundy…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile back in Arizona…

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Fun

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really No Fun

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

Texas and New Mexico and Water

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

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

A Saturday Rant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you work with that?      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, February 2018
Jan 01 2018

New Year Resolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to the news…

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

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

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

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

ESA

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: US Fish & Wildlife Service

Dusky gopher frog…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: New Mexico Stockman, January 2018 
Dec 02 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cleaning Up at Interior

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: New Mexico Stockman, December 2017