Farm Credit
Jun 05 2018

Counting my blessings…

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

D

uring the Legislature when the conversation turned to joint replacements, I missed another good opportunity to keep my mouth shut. Instead I said, “I plan on going to the grave with my original parts.”

Apparently my body decided to bring me down a peg.

Since the end of Legislature, I had been working slowly on my total gym. In mid April I thought I had pulled a muscle in my chest. I was having some pain, but gee whiz it was quite a ways from my heart and there was no blood. According to the Cowan philosophy of life, just keep plugging. It will get better. Besides, I was busy.

The pain got worse over the next several days, but it was manageable. I attended the Binational Meeting in Las Cruces where the wind blew like a son of a gun and it was cold the day we were outside. A little pain is no big deal.

I came home and a few days later we went to Florida for some training. Things got worse, but who wants to go to an ER or Urgent Care so far from home?

I was home for less than 24 hours and headed southwest to the Spur Ranch near Luna, New Mexico to prepare with several members for a wolf meeting called by Arizona Department of Agriculture Mark Killian. He was kind enough to include New Mexico in the meeting. He had initially requested a meeting with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who delegated the event to U.S. Forest Service Region 3 Supervisor Cal Joyner and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Southwest Regional Director Amy Lueders. Both of those regions include both Arizona and New Mexico.

I was still having some pain, but no pain no gain, right? However, once the meeting started, the pain began getting worse… a lot worse. I ended up pacing the room during most of the meeting.

The meeting was at least the start of a success with both Regional Directors hearing stories they had never heard before. Ranchers in the room have and are losing $100,000s of thousands of dollars either in wolf losses or expenses directly related to the wolves, including transportation to move away from the wolves, additional leased land costs, wear and tear on the animals like decreases in weight, lower calving or lambing rates, not to mention the time and money spent in documenting wolf kills and working with the federal agencies in trying to get at least some compensation for their losses.

We were to continue to work with the Directors, including Ms. Lueders, Mr. Joyner, Mr. Killian and New Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte to see if we could accomplish something meaningful to ranchers. My hopes are dimming however, it has been well over a month and we haven’t heard a word from the feds.

I had a get well card from a friend in Arizona who said that I had set a whole new meaning for the illness felt after wolf meetings. I was the first he had heard of requiring surgery after such a meeting.

But I digress. Meanwhile back at the Spur Ranch my pain was getting worse. I skipped dinner and by the next morning it was clear that I wasn’t in any shape to attend Margie McKeen’s Ranch Days, which I have been promising to attend for years.

In addition to hosting New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association members, Tom and John Paterson were taking care of their father Alex, who was on his last legs. He wanted to spend some time at the ranch before the end. Tom and John hosted 35 people during the weeks that Alex was at the ranch.

April 24 was the day that Alex was going back to Silver City. Given that I wasn’t able to drive myself, it made sense to ride to Silver City and seek medical attention there.

The ER made a fairly quick diagnosis that it was gall bladder. They wanted to admit me and do surgery the next day. While I am certain that the medical facilities were more than adequate, I just couldn’t make myself stay in a hospital so far away from family.

Thank God for the Roland Sanchez Family. In about nothing flat they had me lined up with a surgeon in Albuquerque. Although I had plenty of folks ready to drive me back to Albuquerque, Randy found a flight that would get me there with less than an hour of airtime… and it only cost $59.

The flight was delayed so I was later getting away than scheduled, but we finally got in the air. It was a small plane and there was a doctor on the flight for his own reasons, so what could go wrong?

Wind shear in Albuquerque. Given the cockpit was open, the drama of the attempted landing was there in full view, complete with flashing danger lights. At that point I was like that southern comedian who told the story about being caught in a tree with a bear or a lion (I cannot remember which). He yelled to his friend, “Just shoot up in here… somebody will get some relief.” I just wanted on the ground one way or another.

After a couple more laps over Albuquerque we made it to the ground. I had an appointment the next morning with Dr. Joseph Lopez, a renowned New Mexico transplant surgeon who hails from Las Vegas, New Mexico. There wasn’t a surgery opening until the next morning so home we went for another 24 hours.

I knew going in that they might not be able to take the gall bladder out laparoscopically, but I wasn’t fully prepared for how long the recovery process might be for a full surgery. The surgery took a while and once inside, the gall bladder had ruptured and was gangrenous. Things went well but the next day things were not quite as they should be. There began to be talk of an ectopic procedure to address what appeared to be the problem. As you might imagine, I wasn’t wild about that thought… I wanted to go home.

The following Tuesday morning the doctors decided that there was a blockage in the bile duct and off we went again. The procedure was ectopic. They found a gall stone blocking the duct. They removed that and put in a stint. That stint will have to come out in another procedure scheduled for late June. Hopefully that will be a day thing.

Early the next morning the doctors came in and said I could go home! And, have food for the first time in over a week. I have another couple of weeks of recovery, but I am getting stronger every day and hope to be at the Mid-Year Convention in Ruidoso. I may have a shock collar on so Michelle can sit me down when she thinks I might be over doing…

Now for the thanks!

I don’t even know where to begin with the thanks for all the prayers I have received since this odyssey began. Thank you for the cards and flowers, the texts and emails, calls, a visit or two and the space to heal. My care team has been Johnnie on the spot for weeks. There will never be enough thanks for Randy, Marguerite, Connie and Michelle. There have been lots of sleepless nights for them and waiting on me hand and foot can’t be all that much fun. Although ordering me around may have it’s jollies.

The New Mexico Stockman staff in the form of Kristy Hinds, Carol Pendleton, Marguerite and even Publication Printers went well beyond over and above in getting out the May issue while I was in a drug-induced haze. I didn’t get a column done, but clearly we didn’t need it.

I cannot fail to leave out Tom and John Paterson. Things could have been a lot worse had it not been for them. I can’t even imagine the problems associated with a house guest who falls serious ill. They took it in stride and provided the best of care. Tom even drove my brand new convertible back to Albuquerque after I flew back. I am sorry I didn’t show him how to put the top down!

Thank you to all!

Just when you thought…   

As a resident of Albuquerque for more than 20 years, I have always hated to hear folks talk about how bad Albuquerque is. Yes, there is more crime than there should be and the police department gets a bad rap, which may or may not be deserved depending on the instance. But I support the men and women in blue… now changed to at least most of the time.

You all know about my beloved dogs Abby (now 13 years old and even more protective of me), and Bullet (our half Minnie Aussie, half Minnie Corgi). One of the highlights of their day is getting to ride with us in the truck. As I have recovered, we have taken a few short trips to the store. It seems to be easier to get the steps in while shopping.

On a trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond, one of my first trips, the day was overcast and the heat wasn’t bad. There was a breeze blowing and with all the windows more than half way down, the dogs were quite comfortable.

After I gave out, which wasn’t very long, I went back to the truck and Randy went to get me something to drink. You can imagine my surprise when the flashing lights of a cop car pulled up, blocking the truck. About that time a woman walked by my door and said, “She wasn’t in there when I called you.”

The cop came to the other door with a flashlight in broad daylight, drawing the ire of both dogs, and told me to get out of the truck. I walked behind the truck and he began lecturing in a not too kind of a tone about the Albuquerque law that requires that no dogs be left alone in a vehicle no matter what the temperature.

I explained to him that I had been in the store for a few minutes but was back in the truck because I wasn’t feeling well. He then told me that ignorance of the law was no defense and started the lecture all over again. In the meantime a dog catcher arrived on the scene.

During the second lecture the cop did add that, oh by the way, you cannot leave children in the car either. I made the mistake of telling him that I didn’t have children. That really made him mad. He then explained that he was offering me a courtesy and started the lecture a third time.

I guess I must have gotten pale somewhere during the process because finally the cop asked if I was in need of medical assistance. What a thoughtful guy. I didn’t need medical assistance if I could only sit down.

I haven’t had the energy to look up the ordinance supporting this cop, but I don’t have a lot of doubt that it isn’t there. What I did think about then was the fact that there had been two shootings, one deadly in Albuquerque late the night before and we saw two auto accidents with no police on the scene while we were out that day.

Aside from watching the evening news, you don’t have to search very far to find that Albuquerque is the worst in the nation for property crime according to a report issued in September 2017. The report goes on to say that “Much of New Mexico’s reported crime is driven by Albuquerque, the state’s largest city. About 27 percent of the population calls Albuquerque home, but the city was home to 42.7 percent of violent crime and 47 percent of property crime in New Mexico.

More than 65 percent of stolen vehicles were reported stolen from Albuquerque in 2016, which had an increase of 49 percent over 2015.

A January 2018 news story in the Albuquerque Journal stated “For the third year in a row, the city has seen a significant increase in the number of killings, ending 2017 with a preliminary total of 75 – the highest number of homicides in recent history.”

Yet the police department spends it’s time chasing down terrible criminals like me, who love their dogs enough to keep them by our sides.

Get real people! And, oh by the way, since the cop didn’t find the dogs by themselves, I don’t think he could have seized them anyway.

I hope to see you at convention and I promise not to be so self-centered next month.      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, June 2018
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