Sep 30 2016

Basket of Deplorables

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

At first thought I would start this month with something at least semi-humorous about the upcoming election… and how soon we all want it to be over. But on second thought, the matter is much too serious for jokes.

Every election year I think most of us feel that this could be the most important election of our life-times. This year is no different and the stakes could not be higher from the top of the ticket all the way to the bottom.

One section of the ballot that never receives enough attention is the judges. Judges aren’t allowed to campaign like other candidates and it is pretty easy to just skip over voting for them. You might know someone in your local area that is running for judge so you vote for them, but do you even know who is running for the New Mexico State Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals?

Have you paid much attention to how much the courts are running governments, and thus their budgets, over the top of legislative bodies? You have to look no further than the workers’ compensation lawsuits in these higher courts to see the devastating impact their rulings can have on your life, your family and the future of your business. And, that’s just one issue.

Another recent ruling is the one out of Lincoln County on the feral horse issue. We haven’t been able to get our hands on a copy of the temporary restraining order that was issued against the New Mexico Livestock Board, but we are told that it turns century old livestock law on its head. The ruling could have the same impact on cattle that it does on horses.

It appears that we may be in the Legislature come January trying to come up with a definition of a horse. Is it livestock, is it wildlife, or are they just sacred creatures that should be left to roam freely across the landscape at will?

We have a good idea what the workers’ comp case is going to cost the agricultural industry. Can you imagine what the additional cost of court rulings is on the education system? As our state faces an ever worsening budget crisis there is no relief from court ordered actions.

Or, how about protection from crime… The courts have ruled that a bail bond cannot be based on the need to keep a monster from our midst, but rather on whether or not the alleged criminal can obtain a bond and show back up in court as required. I am sure there are many more examples that those of us not directly hit in the face never even consider.

There is an opening on the Supreme Court. There is an “incumbent” appointee who is running for retention against a member of the Court of Appeals desiring to move up. There is a record of their actions on issues directly affecting agriculture. It would do folks well to become informed on how these candidates voted on that issue in their respective courts.

The Court of Appeals has a seat that is being contested in the same way. There is not as clear a record in that venue as the Supreme Court, but it will still pay to learn about the values of each candidate.

The races for the Legislature often provide the same sorts of contrast. Please look beyond the party affiliation and find those people who believe what you do and are committed to keeping agriculture healthy in our state.

Moving up the ticket, the fact that one presidential candidate would lash out what could be half or more of our nation’s citizens as deplorables (which is mangling the English language while they were at) is pretty telling. It might be laughable if she weren’t serious. Surely in America we are allowed to have our fears of ISIS, terrorism and other things.

There was something similar said by a candidate in recent years who mentioned in high society (Hollywood I think) that rural folks clung to their bibles and guns. It is sad that a country founded on religious freedom and the right to bear arms not finds itself with such narrow minded leaders.

It is time to get out the vote. Please make sure you have done everything in your power to ensure that this election provides a better future.

It wouldn’t be a column if we didn’t talk about … Wolves

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, a wildlife foundation started by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and actor Robert Redford is stepping into the fray between state and federal government over the Mexican gray wolf.

The Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife announced in late September it was siding with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s wolf release plan in an ongoing lawsuit, filing an amicus brief with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

The state of New Mexico was granted a preliminary injunction in June, stopping any wolf releases while the two parties battle over permits and the revamping of a recovery plan. The state took legal action in April after federal officials released a pair of captive-born pups into a wild wolf den in southwestern New Mexico despite having no permit.

My cowboy law degree doesn’t explain how a brief can be filed in the 10th Circuit District Court of Appeals while the case against the recovery plan is still being adjudicated at the Federal District Court in Arizona. Bill Richardson is a lawyer and Robert Redford is … a movie actor.

We have the college-educated lawyers trying to figure it out. Stay tuned.

Lots of money on the way.

Washington will pay 17 Native American tribes a total of $492.8 million to settle long-standing disputes over mismanagement of tribal lands by the Department of the Interior.

Federal authorities manage almost 100,000 leases on nearly 56 million acres of trust lands on behalf of Native American tribes, including oil and gas extraction rights, timber harvesting, grazing, farming and housing. Additionally, the government manages about 2,500 trust accounts for more than 250 tribes. More than 100 tribes have sued the government, claiming the government mismanaged their lands and money.

Since 2009, the Obama Administration has settled the claims of 90 federally recognized tribes and is looking to settle 11 more tribal claims for a grand total of $3.3 billion.


Interested in Trich? (There is no treat attached to this one)

The New Mexico Livestock Board is considering revisions to their bovine trichomoniasis regulations. The Board established a Trich Committee and the revisions are based on the input from that group. You can see the regulations at

The Board will be taking up the issue at their December 1, 2016 meeting in conjunction with the Joint Stockmen’s Convention at the Crowne Plaza in Albuquerque. You can make comments in writing now and verbally at the meeting.

EPA Under Fire… still, again?

According to the Columbia Basin Herald, Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA) is looking for answers from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in regard to the agency’s review of an anti-farmer campaign in his state.

In late September Newhouse led a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy asking for an update on the EPA’s review of it’s “What’s Upstream,” campaign. EPA Region 10, which serves Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and 271 Native American tribes, funded the “What’s Upstream” website and advocacy campaign, which attempted to influence legislators to push for greater regulation of farmers and ranchers.

The campaign used grant awards to fund a website, radio ads, and billboards that depicted dead fish and polluted water. The website states that planting buffers can help the agricultural industry protect water resources and requiring 100 feet of natural vegetation between farmland and waterways would keep most pesticides, fertilizers, cows and manure out of streams.

Newhouse’s letter to McCarthy requested an update on the EPA’s findings and enacting reforms to make sure funds are not used in violation of established laws. In April McCarthy admitted the EPA was, “distressed by the use of the money and the tone of (the What’s Upstream) campaign” and called for a full review in response.

“In light of the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) finding that EPA violated the Antideficiency Act and federal appropriations law by promoting the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, followed so closely by the revelation of misuse of funds to lobby state legislators through the ‘What’s Upstream’ campaign, we are growing increasingly concerned about EPA’s use of taxpayer dollars,” reads the letter sent to McCarthy. “As we await the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) report on the ‘What’s Upstream’ campaign and discuss the need for and scope of potential legislative reform, an update from EPA on what proactive steps have been taken to address this disturbing trend could help better direct our conversations.”

A December 2015 report by the GAO found the EPA violated federal lobbying and advocacy laws by funding social media campaigns that supported the WOTUS Rule.

In response to the controversy surrounding federal agency misconduct, Newhouse voted to pass the Regulator Integrity Act of 2016, which he previously introduced with Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Michigan. The act directs federal agencies to post all public comments they issue during the proposed rule stage. In addition, the act states public agencies cannot lobby or campaign in support of proposed rules.

The case against pets. Animal Rightists (AR) at it again

A morally just world would have no pets, no aquaria, no zoos. No fields of sheep, no barns of cows. That’s true animal rights according to the website

According to a pair of New Jersey law professors, you’re violating your animals’ rights by even calling them “pets” in the first place. Are your beloved pets really “refugees?”

Despite living with six rescue dogs, Rutgers University professors Gary Francione and Anna Charlton think of their companions more like “non-human refugees” that share their home. In a recent article on, the pair asserts that domestication and pet ownership violate the fundamental rights of animals.

“Non-human animals have a moral right not to be used exclusively as human resources, irrespective of whether the treatment is ‘humane’, and even if humans would enjoy desirable consequences if they treated non-humans exclusively as replaceable resources,” Francione and Charlton wrote.

In other words, those “cage-free eggs” and “crate-free pork” that you eat are still forms of animal exploitation, the two allege.

“However ‘humanely’ we treat animals, they are still subjected to treatment that, were humans involved, would be torture,” Francione and Charlton argue.

In particular, the pair of professors claim that the humans’ “most-numerically significant use” of animals – for food purposes – is unnecessary.

“We don’t need to eat animals for optimal health,” the pair wrote. “Indeed, an increasing number of mainstream healthcare authorities, including the National Institutes of Health in the US, the American Heart Association, the British National Health Service, and the British Dietetic Association, have stated that a sensible vegan diet can be just as nutritious as a diet that includes animal foods.”

And if it’s not necessary to keep animals as food, it’s also not ethical to keep them as “pets,” Francione and Charlton wrote.

“We treat our six dogs as valued members of our family. The law will protect that decision because we may choose to value our property as we like. We could, however, choose instead to use them as guard dogs and have them live outside with virtually no affectionate contact from us. We could put them in a car right now and take them to a shelter where they will be killed if they are not adopted, or we could have them killed by a veterinarian. The law will protect those decisions as well. We are property owners. They are property. We own them.”

The professors concluded: “Domesticated animals are completely dependent on humans, who control every aspect of their lives. Unlike human children, who will one day become autonomous, non-humans never will. That is the entire point of domestication – we want domesticated animals to depend on us. They remain perpetually in a netherworld of vulnerability, dependent on us for everything that is of relevance to them. We have bred them to be compliant and servile, and to have characteristics that are pleasing to us, even though many of those characteristics are harmful to the animals involved. We might make them happy in one sense, but the relationship can never be ‘natural’ or ‘normal’. They do not belong in our world, irrespective of how well we treat them. This is more or less true of all domesticated non-humans. They are perpetually dependent on us. We control their lives forever. They truly are ‘animal slaves’. Some of us might be benevolent masters, but we really can’t be anything more than that.”

In the past this kind of article has come from England or Australia. The people in this article are teaching American youth on taxpayer dollars.

IRS Code changes could harm small business

The proposed regulations under section 2704 of the Internal Revenue Code would permanently change estate planning for families that own a controlling interest in a privately-held entity.

Some 3,800 associations have submitted a letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) opposing the “The proposed guidance is one of the most sweeping changes to estate tax policies in the last 25 years and would be detrimental to active enterprises and family-owned businesses that employ millions of workers throughout the nation,” the letter reads.

“In particular, these rules would impose significant new tax costs on family-owned businesses, diverting capital from business investment, costing jobs and threatening the ability of families to pass businesses on to the next generation of owners.”

The regulations would eliminate or greatly reduce available valuation discounts for family-related entities, which in turn increase the tax associated with common transfers including inheritance.

“These proposed regulations would eliminate or greatly reduce marketability for family related entities, effectively discouraging families from continuing to operate or grow their businesses and pass them on to future generations,” according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). “Producers are often forced into selling land or cattle in order to pay the tax, and in some cases, are put out of business. The Administration is causing unnecessary economic harm to family businesses.”

Convention Coming!

Please start planning NOW to attend the 2016 Joint Stockmen’s Convention slated for December 1 through 4 at the Crowne Plaza in Albuquerque. The Crowne was formerly the Hilton, which was the Convention’s home for many years.  Registration material will be available near the end of October. Room reservation block is open now.      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, September 2016