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