Farm Credit
Aug 03 2016

PETA calls out Dairy Queen for lack of non-dairy options

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

PETA calls out Dairy Queen for lack of non-dairy options

You just can’t make this stuff up. This is the headline in the Minneapolis, Minnesota based Star Tribune entertainment column by a woman named CJ. She says:

“Good Wife” star Alan Cumming (the sort of slimy political campaign manager) has got a PETA-related beef (make that tofu beef) with Dairy Queen.

The Edina-based company is due to receive a letter from Cumming urging Dairy Queen “to offer nondairy items like TCBY, Ben & Jerry’s and other chains,” said Dan Mathews (CJ’s buddy), senior veep at PETA.

“Given the increased global demand from people who suffer from dairy allergies and lactose intolerance as well as those concerned about their health, the environment, and animal welfare, it’s no surprise that the dairy alternatives market is expected to reach $19.5 billion in value by 2020,” Cumming’s letter will read, Mathews says.

“Alan, who just wrapped the final season of CBS’ ‘The Good Wife,’ is not only a letter-writer,” said Mathews. “This summer he stars in PETA’s ‘Not A Dairy Queen’ campaign, involving ads and outreach at gay pride events across the country.”

Dairy Queen’s associate veep of ­communications Dean Peters didn’t know what to say about this.

“Our millions of fans love our products. If there was a demand, this is the first I’ve heard of this — that they would like us as a brand to offer nondairy products … I think our millions of fans would be disappointed.”

Then Peters had one more question: “Would you go into a Dairy Queen store and try vegan soft-serve items?”

If DQ machines were pumping out a product like Sharon’s Coconut Sorbet, CJ certainly would. That sorbet is so creamy and delicious it just has to be bad for you — even though it’s vegan according to veganamericanprincess.com.

“Interesting,” said Peters, who said he’ll have to check it out.

All I can say is I am glad that Grandmother, her toy poodle Teddy, Daddy, and Uncle Bill didn’t live to see this. The Dairy Queen in Douglas was a mandatory stop whenever we were in town. Once Grandmother moved to town the trip was a daily necessity. Teddy always got his own cup of ice cream, vanilla of course.

Not so amusing…

The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) and other agriculture trade groups in the state continue to work on finding affordable solutions for agricultural workers who are no longer exempted from workers’ comp insurance in New Mexico.

First and foremost, get your workers comp coverage now!

The State Supreme Court ruling did provide some clarity on issues that agriculture has questioned during the past year. First, the issue of neighboring, the Court said that as long as no pay changes hands, workers compensation insurance is not required for trading labor.

The Court also clarified how family members should be considered. If family member is doing labor on your ranch or farm, workers’ comp cover is not required. However, if you pay family members, they must be covered.

The issue of independent contractors is one that is determined by a test. If you hire someone to shoe horses or pull a well and they have their own tools and tell them how they will do their work, you have passed part of the test. However, if you do deem someone an independent contractor, you must get a copy of their insurance certificate.

The Workers’ Compensation Administration (WCA) has published a “Frequently Asked Questions” paper that goes into more detail. That can be found on the website at www.nmagriculture.org . All NMCGA members were mailed the paper in late July.

For the short term there don’t appear to be many affordable options for workers’ comp insurance. With that said, we have heard of some coverage for as low as $9/$100 of salary. The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) has repeatedly stated that in New Mexico the cost of coverage will be $17/$100 of payroll. Additionally, when you file a claim, you should probably expect that your rates will go up and/or  your current policy will be cancelled and you will be forced into the high risk pool. We have heard of rates in that pool as high as $38/$100.

When you have workers’ comp coverage, you should not pay any medical expenses out of pocket. All claims must be reported to your insurer as soon as possible. If you do make direct medical payments, there is little likelihood that you will recover them.

Your employers’ liability insurance will no longer cover injured employee medical payments. There may be significant savings when you drop that coverage and move to workers’ comp. Be sure and discuss this with your insurance agent.

Your agent should also be able to assist ranch or farm owners in exempting themselves from workers’ comp coverage. Remember, if you have two exempt owners, partners or company officers, a third person employed will trigger the need for workers’ comp coverage.

The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) and others continue to work on this issue. The Association and other groups are also exploring setting up its own self-insured fund in order to be able to control costs for our membership. If this comes to pass, it will take at least six months to get a program in place.

If you have interest in participating in a potential self-insured program, please let us know.

It is worthwhile to remember that all of this grief is brought to you by the New Mexico Center on Law & Poverty. There will be more on that subject next month.

Is the worm/wolf turning?

Two Western Republican congressmen have succeeded in getting legislation through the U.S. House that would shift management of the endangered Mexican gray wolf from the federal government to states.

The measure sponsored by Representative Paul Gosar, Arizona and Steve Pearce, New Mexico was included as an amendment to a $32 billion spending bill for the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that passed in July. The measure will move on to the Senate and then perhaps a conference committee of the two bodies.

The Congressmen say efforts to reintroduce the wolves in the Southwest have failed. They cited the lack of an updated recovery plan, a struggling population and livestock losses.

They also pointed to a recent federal investigation that concluded the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) mishandled the program. Of course, environmentalists are worried the wolf could go extinct if the legislation gets through Congress.

More on the Federal Report

Federal investigators say the FWS mismanaged aspects of its program to help endangered Mexican wolves survive in the wild, and that it failed to adequately communicate public safety concerns about the predators to residents of Western New Mexico, according to an article in the Santa Fe New Mexican by Rebecca Moss.

The investigation, conducted by DOI and made public in early July, was triggered by complaints three years ago from residents of Catron County, the area most affected by efforts to rebuild the endangered Mexican wolf population in the Gila Wilderness. The issues were then raised in Congress by U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce.

Residents said the wildlife service failed to document nuisance complaints associated with wolves that encroached on property or threatened livestock, and that it failed to fully compensate ranchers for livestock killed by wolves.

Many of these complaints were verified through the investigation. One finding was that a supervisor, who has since reassigned within the FWS to an administrative role in the wolf program, had not required employees to fill out reports following a nuisance complaint and was “overly passionate” about specific wolves and “thus reluctant to remove them from the wild when it was appropriate to do so.”

Pearce called the investigative report “damning,” and said the wildlife service “has blatantly disregarded the law and requirements for this program. At this point, they must make changes. They claim they have fixed the problem by reassigning one person. Their problems are much bigger than one employee and extend to the highest levels of the agency. “

Pearce said “those at the top levels at FWS tolerated a culture of lies, falsification, mismanagement and manipulation of scientific data, ultimately at the cost of livelihoods and the public trust.”

Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, director of the FWS’s Southwest Region, said in a statement that prior to the federal investigation, the agency was made aware of certain problems with regional leadership and had made meaningful changes.

“We are sorting through the details of the report, and deciding what further adjustments or corrective actions may need to take place,” he said.

The investigation revealed a deep divide between the will of the wildlife service and the public in Western New Mexico. For instance, it mentioned a New Mexico game warden who called the wolf recovery program “a hard sell” because most residents “don’t see the wolf as having any value.”

The report goes on to say that “Catron County did not allow wolf outreach in its schools or signs posted in the community,” fearing that [the wolf recovery program] wanted to “brainwash” children.

For their part, ranchers and sheriffs described bloody scenes on or near property where an elk or a cow was killed by a wolf pack. They said these attacks were not sufficiently dealt with by the wildlife service. Some even wondered if the wildlife service had intentionally removed a slaughtered carcass to conceal evidence of a kill.

Congress’ 2014 Farm Bill established 100 percent compensation for ranchers who could show proof that wolves killed their livestock. But most ranchers interviewed for the investigation said they had only received partial compensation if any at all.

Since release of the report, Congressman Pearce has called upon DOI Secretary Sally Jewel to halt the Mexican wolf program immediately until detailed audits and investigations can be done to determine the path, if any, that might serve the species.

The conflict between wolf-recovery efforts and Catron County are evident in the growing mortality count of both cattle and wolves. In the wildlife service’s most recent report this May, it found that nine cattle had been killed by wolves, though no nuisance reports were filed. One wolf, referred to as AF923, was also found dead in New Mexico.

Wildlife managers are investigating the circumstances of the death of another Mexican wolf in New Mexico this month, and a pair that was killed in Arizona. Killing a Mexican wolf carries a criminal penalty up to $50,000 and a year in jail, though a property owner had the right to kill wolves that enter private lands and attack livestock or non-feral dogs.

New Mexico’s Department of Game & Fish objected to any releases of wolves, citing an insufficient management plan. The FWS originally said it did not need the state’s approval to move forward with recovery plans and released two Mexican wolf pups in the Gila Wilderness in late April.

In response, the state filed suit, seeking a temporary restraining order against the federal government from releasing any more wolves. U.S. District Judge William P. Johnson of Las Cruces ruled in favor of the state in June, agreeing that the federal government needed a permit to release Mexican wolves in New Mexico. The wolf pups that were cross-fostered were allowed to stay.      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, July 2016