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