Farm Credit
Jan 01 2018

New Year Resolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 The Death Tax was not repealed, but the deductions were doubled.

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

Back to the news…

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

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

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

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

ESA

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: US Fish & Wildlife Service

Dusky gopher frog…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: New Mexico Stockman, January 2018 
Dec 02 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cleaning Up at Interior

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: New Mexico Stockman, December 2017 
Nov 04 2017

Low Hanging Fruit…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, for the elephant in the room

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

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

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

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

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

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

Las Vegas

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closer to home

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another one bites the dust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: New Mexico Stockman, November 2017 
Sep 30 2017

Loss of a true friend …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where’s the Fairness?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the popular media…

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

Source: New Mexico Stockman, October 2017 
Aug 30 2017

As good a time as any …

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

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

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

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

We got one — be careful what you wish for.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When society makes a decision…

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

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

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

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

Antelope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trespass

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Back…

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

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

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

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

Joint Stockmen’s Convention

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

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

Please plan on coming!!!          

Source: New Mexico Stockman, September 2017