Sep 30 2019

The Rural Cleansing Bounds Forward … and Steals Christmas!

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

Rigniting a dormant war, the Wild-Earth Guardians (WEG) took a huge step forward in their ongoing battle of rural cleansing in New Mexico and Arizona in mid-September when they filed for and got an injunction against any work in all the forests in New Mexico and one in Arizona.

The case is based on the Mexican spotted owl and it has been ongoing for 25 years. However, the injunction announced on September 20, 2019 taking effect on September 23 was a complete shock to those depending on the forests for their livelihood and even the basic necessity of heat and cooking needs in countless high country homes. Many communities are depending on firewood gathering to keep their homes warm and their families fed.

The public outcry has been so great that the WEG is now claiming it was never their intension to stop firewood gathering and have apparently already asked the court to revise the order to allow firewood gathering.

But what about Christmas? The National Christmas Tree was supposed to come out of the Carson National Forest and hauled back to Washington, D.C. along with 70-plus trees to decorate the White House and other federal buildings

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham had announced earlier in September that a New Mexico 4th grader would be lighting the National Tree. The Governor and the Carson National Forest had put together an essay-writing contest for New Mexico fourth graders as part of the celebration of the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, which will come from the Land of Enchantment. The contest winner was supposed have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to join the Speaker of the House of Representatives in lighting the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

Fourth graders from around the state were invited to participate in the contest, writing about why they love New Mexico’s forests and public lands in line with the theme of the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, “Delivering Enchantment!”

At press time the status of the National Tree is one of numerous questions New Mexicans and others are asking. It appears that no Christmas trees will come out of forests in New Mexico this year.

But these are just two of the issues created by this WEG litigation. New Mexico’s timber community was just beginning to rebuild itself after slews of litigation lasting decades. Few if any of those small businesses and family will be able to survive a shut-down of months or more. Literally thousands of rural jobs will be eliminated… again.

Then there is fire. New Mexico got by pretty well this summer with no catastrophic fires. This cannot help be, at least in part, to the forest management that has been taking place over the last several years.

Other states haven’t been so lucky this year… and New Mexico won’t be able to continue this way when thinning, clearing and other forest management projects.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is not without fault in this debacle. The claims that let the WEG get the injunction were based on the inability of the agency to get their scientific work done on Mexican spotted owls in the forests.

On the other hand Judge Raner C. Collins, Senior United States District Judge in Tucson, may not have the scientific background to understand the implications of his actions. I remember several years ago sitting in Judge Collins’ courtroom when the USFS put up a map showing a huge area in Northern Arizona bleeding into New Mexico that was black.

The USFS told the judge that there were no owl packs in all of the marked area. The judge looked like someone had slapped him and demanded to know why not? The answer was simple. That was one of the huge fires that did so much damage in the region. The owls, like many other species of wildlife, perished in the fire.

The final court order requires that the USFS and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) must reinitiate a formal Section 7(a)(2) consultation as required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and formulate superseding Biological Opinions (BiOps) that conform with the terms of the Order. The consultation must also reassess the jeopardy analysis and the effect of Forest Plans on the recovery of the Mexican spotted owl.

Most, if not all, forests in New Mexico are in the midst of redoing their forest plans. There is not yet any time line on the creation of a new Biological Opinion.

The public outcry against the WEG and this injunction has been admirable. Everyone needs to keep up the good work. The Congressional delegation is home on a two-week recess. The only way to lobby judges is through the media. Letters to the editor in Arizona and New Mexico publications are certainly in order.

Meanwhile back at the ranch…

The USFS is busily working to meet the demands of a notice of intent to sue (NOI) filed against the agency on July 17, 2019. This is another Groundhog Day nightmare for ranchers with grazing allotments along riparian areas in New Mexico and Arizona.

More litigation…

There was tremendous joy in most of the West and other places that have been plagued with land-use restrictions as a result of the ESA when new regulations out of the U.S. Department of Interior on critical habits designations and other issues. These regulations were the result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating that the designation of critical habitat must be only where there are known critters living.

Seems like common sense, right?

Not so for at least 17 state attorneys general — including the New Mexico Attorney General — who are suing Interior over these new regulations that took effect on September 16, 2019.

Here is another place to make your voice heard loud and clear with letters and letters to the editor.

Mexican Jaguar

Oral arguments were heard in the 10th Circuit of Appeals in late September on the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ case against the critical habitat designation for the Mexican jaguar in New Mexico. While it may be difficult to understand why this habitat designation would be opposed.

We are not sure when to expect a final ruling from the court, but there is cautious optimism.

Not only is there no water or riparian habitat in southern New Mexico for the jaguar, but they are one more predator in an area already overflowing with predators. Additionally, restrictions placed on land owners and users to protect the jaguar would inhibit management of other predators. Does that make sense?

Establishing a pattern

As I write this, there is a trend emerging. Society, whoever that is, wants more Mexican wolves, Mexican spotted owls, Mexican jaguars, Mexican garter snakes… and who knows what else. Shouldn’t these species be concentrated in Mexico???

Stricter Mileage Rules

According to Governor Lujan Grisham in an Albuquerque Journal article, New Mexico will adopt stricter vehicle emissions standards by the end of next year that would go into effect in 2022.

In July, Lujan Grisham signed on to the Clean Car Promise with 23 other governors in the bipartisan U.S. Climate Alliance. The statement criticized the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to reverse nationwide vehicle emissions standards that were enacted in 2012. The EPA’s proposed changes would set a standard of 37 mpg for new vehicles. The Obama-era standard was 54 mpg by 2025. The governor said the proposed rollbacks threaten to “rob New Mexico” of a chance to reduce air pollution.

The state’s new standards would be stricter than those now required by the federal government and would come into play earlier than the regulations under Obama.

New state rules would apply to cars beginning in model year 2022 sold in New Mexico. The proposed changes are expected to increase the average fuel economy to 52 mpg.

ELD Delay for Livestock Haulers             

On September 26, 2019 the U.S. Senate passed a short term spending bill to keep the government open and running until November 21, 2019.  As long as the President signs it before midnight on September 30, 2019, the government stays open, and very importantly, the livestock ELD delay stays in place until November 21, 2019.

What happens after November 21st remains to be seen, but the ELD delay language in the House package and in the Senate Transportation, Housing & Urban Development bill that has passed out of subcommittee. If the government were to shut down, the ELD delay would remain.

As usual, there are a lot of uncertainties with the budget. This delay provides more time to work on flexibilities to Hours of Service.

New Overtime & Exempt Rule

Two years ago you were advised to prepare for a new overtime rule that was pulled in the final hours. The Department of Labor revised

The salary threshold for an exempt employee is currently $23,000 per year, but as of January 1, 2020 all exempt employees will need to make at least $35,568 a year. This rule also modifies annual compensation for highly compensated status from $100,000 to $107,432. Nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments can account for up to 10 percent of that salary threshold.    

(Exempt:  salary staff that aren’t eligible for overtime. Non-Exempt:  staff paid on an hourly rate and are eligible for overtime pay)

What do you need to do?

  • Identify all exempt employees making less than $35,568 a year.
  • Take a look at how many hours those employees tend to work.
  • Your options are then to increase their salary to $35,568 a year, or change their status to non-exempt and pay them an hourly wage. Realizing that anytime they work more than 40 hours in a workweek you will need to pay them overtime.
  • Make sure to research what your state threshold might be, if it is more than the federal amount of $35,568 you will need to pay the higher salary.

If you would like to read more about this new rule, here is the link to the Department of Labor. 

www.dol.gov/whd/overtime_pay.htm

Food Facts From: Is it really possible that plant-based  foods such as the Impossible Whopper are healthful?

by Registered Dietitian Cara Rosenbloom, President of Words to Eat By, Washingtonpost.com

Plant-based foods are purposely formulated to mimic animal-based foods, so plant-based milk is enriched with calcium and vitamin D to mimic cow’s milk, while veggie burgers are rich in protein and made with iron and zinc to imitate beef. But they aren’t always made to reduce the presence of less-healthy nutrients. Sometimes, the processed plant-based food will have more sodium than the processed animal-based food, and sometimes the animal food will be higher in calories or saturated fat. And vice versa. So, it’s sort of a tie. Consider this: A Burger King Whopper has 660 calories and 980 mg sodium, while the virtuous vegan version has 630 calories and 1080 mg sodium. Not much of a difference, right?

Plant-based ultra-processed products such as these are formulated to taste like the real deal. Thus, consumers can feel virtuous or principled for choosing plants over meat without sacrificing too much flavor. But is there any value to plant-based products that have been crushed, extruded and shaped into facsimiles of the foods they are replacing? Let’s look at that question through several lenses — considering nutrients, how processed the food is and how producing the food affects the planet.

Using the term “plant-based” on fast food labels is just another attempt by marketers to re-brand junk food. True plant-based eating doesn’t mean opting for an Impossible Whopper in the drive-through or scrambling up some 15-ingredient “egg alternative.” It means a diet that includes nourishing options such as black beans, broccoli and brown rice. We’re always looking for some magical way to eat junky food and achieve health. Don’t be fooled by this plant-based pretense.      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, October 2019

Sep 02 2019

It’s Past Labor Day …

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

When you are supposed to trade your straw hat for a felt and stop wearing white shoes… even if it is 100 degrees or more outside. It has also traditionally been the time when election campaigns begin in earnest.

This year is no different except that I made the arbitrary decision that the campaign season for the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) wouldn’t start until after Labor Day… for 2020 that is. By the time you are reading this, it will be after Labor Day. There are about 480 days to the 2020 general election and months less than that until the 2020 New Mexico primary.

The 2020 presidential election campaign has been ongoing for months. So long, in fact, that some of the 20 plus candidates are already starting to drop out.

The NMCGA office started receiving New Mexico 2020 fund raising requests a few months ago as well. It is NMCGA policy that the Association neither endorses candidates nor makes campaign contributions. However, the Association has always encouraged its members to become involved with elected representatives at every level.

This year may be a little different. The 2019 Legislature demonstrated just what happens when YOU don’t participate. Measures were introduced regarding abortion, gun control, animals, energy production and distribution, mining, climate change and countless other issues. Those that didn’t make it to the Governor’s desk will likely come up again in 2020 and/or 2021.

The 2020 Legislature is a 30-day budget session, so in theory bills must be tied to finances. But the Governor has the option of adding any and every topic they choose to the Call (the agenda). My mind harkens back to Governor Richardson’s first 30-day Session… He put 129 issues on the Call.

We were sending out calls to action after people went to bed and updating the issue before they woke up the next morning. My credit card bill which generally ran about $1,200 during a Session was about $345 that year.

We won’t have any idea of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s pleasure until the first day of the 2020 Legislature, January 21, or after when the Call is made public. And, issues can be added to the Call throughout the Session.

Back to the 2020 Election

We recently learned that in the 2018 election, only six out of ten rural voters showed up to vote. That compares with eight out of ten of urban voters who voted. Not only are we beat out by population numbers, but we are beating ourselves by not utilizing our Constitution right to vote! THIS HAS GOT TO CHANGE!!!

At the present time we don’t have any number of rural residents eligible to vote are even registered to vote. Thus, Priority ONE is to make sure that everyone entitled to vote in rural New Mexico is registered to vote.

Voter registration in New Mexico is no longer as simple as handing someone a registration application, having them fill it out and you turning it in for them.

Here is what the Secretary of State has on her website regarding voter registration:

Voter Registration Eligibility Requirements

In order to register and vote in New Mexico, an applicant must be:

A resident of New Mexico

A citizen of the United States

Not legally declared mentally incapacitated

Not a convicted felon, or a felon who has completed all of the terms and conditions of sentencing

18 years or older at the time of the next election

Register to Vote or Update Your Registration

You can now register and update your registration online. If you have either a current or expired New Mexico state I.D. (like a driver’s license) you can register for the first time or make changes to your registration—like name, address or party affiliation—easily using our online system.

To register online or to update your registration please go to: https://portal.sos.state.nm.us/OVR/WebPages/InstructionsStep1.aspx

If you don’t have a state-issued I.D., or otherwise would prefer to register by mail, you can pick up a voter registration application form or print the national form online, fill it out, then mail it to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office or your local County Clerk’s Office. If you are not sure where to send it, you can look it up on our website or call us at 1-800/477.3632.

If you change your name or move you must fill out a new voter registration form and submit to your local County Clerk’s Office or the Secretary of State’s Office. You must also fill out a new form if you want to change your party affiliation.

First-Time Registration by Mail

If you are registering for the first time in New Mexico, and you submit the registration form by mail, then you must submit with the form a copy of (1) a current and valid photo identification; or (2) a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, student identification card or other government document, including identification issued by an Indian nation, tribe or pueblo that shows your name and current address. If you do not submit one of these forms of identification with your mailed-in, first time registration, then you would be required to present one of the forms of identification when voting in person or absentee.

Change your Voter Registration

If you change your name or move you must fill out a new voter registration form and submit to your local County Clerk’s Office or the Secretary of State’s Office. You must also fill out a new form if you want to change your party affiliation.

If you wish to register with a person, that person must have completed voter registrar training. The NMCGA staff (except me) are certified to offer voter registration.

If you update your driver’s license or register a vehicle you will be offered the opportunity to register at that time.

Priority TWO

You may have noticed that in addition to incumbents seeking funding, 2020 candidates are already surfacing throughout New Mexico. NOW is the time to renew acquaintances with current elected representatives. Make sure they know who you are and what your values are.

It is also the time to get to know new candidates. Make sure they represent your values.

You have heard this advice every other year for the last two decades at least. Now is the time to do more.

NMCGA members are building networks in their communities, their counties and their political districts to vet candidates, determine who to support and how to support them. If you would like to participate in your area, please let us know.

It is most important that this is a non-partisan effort. We have a two (or more) party system and we have supporters in at least two parties. Party affiliation is much less important than finding who represents our values and will go to bat for them in every venue.

Two Elections

It is also important to remember that we are facing TWO elections — a primary and a general. In the past many, many elections are decided in the primary on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Make sure your party registration matches the candidates you are supporting in the primary. As you have read, it is simple to change registration.

One More Election on the Horizon

We cannot forget that under new state law, conservation districts, school boards and others will hold an election on November 5, 2019. The deadline for filing for those races was August 27, 2019.

Early research indicates that only one county, Grant, Soil & Water Conservation District has a races for all five of its supervisors. There are other counties where there are contested races but none are for the entire commission.

It is worth remembering that NMCGA members and other agriculturists populate this Districts and they need support in the upcoming election.

Obscene & Herd

Overheard at a T or C restaurant “if we can take out grazing in New Mexico, we can take grazing out throughout the West.”

Anyone want to guess who was sitting at that large table?

Fraud

Will you be a victim of meat fraud? In a consumer alert published in at the BottomLineInc.com consumers were warned about “fish fraud.”

It seems that there is concern about where fish people are consuming have been raised and harvested. Oceana, a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C., tested 1,215 samples of fish sold in 21 states. One-third of the samples were mislabeled. For example, Tilefish, a fish with high levels of mercury was mislabeled and mispriced as Alaskan halibut.

In other research a four-year study of Shushi sold at 26 restaurants in Las Angles found that 47 percent was made from different fish from what the menu said.

The moral to this story, larger stores must follow the USDA’s Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements. Restaurants and smaller markets are exempt from COOL.

The moral to the reason I write about this is what the potential for mislabeling beef could be in today’s fake meat era. How was that grilled soy, pea protein isolate, tapioca and/or maltodextrin?

Will they ever learn?

Henry Brean, Arizona Daily Star, wrote on August 27, 2019,

“It was the fire desert ecologists have been warning about for years, and they say it won’t be the last. Dozens of saguaros burned late last week in a lightning-sparked blaze that scorched about 25 acres in the Santa Catalina Mountains.”

According to U.S. Forest Service officials, it was the first known fire in the Catalina’s primarily fueled by buffelgrass, an invasive plant that has taken hold across the range and throughout Southern Arizona.

Buffelgrass is native to Africa and Asia, where it populates savannas that burn frequently as part of the natural ecological process. The U.S. Soil Conservation Service introduced the grass to the Southwest starting the 1930s for cattle grazing and erosion control because of its high seed production and tolerance to drought.

The article goes on to quote a seemingly hysterical University of Arizona scientist about the catastrophic fire and its’ “signal of the devastation on the Sonoran Desert ecosystem.” Mind you the fire was only 25 acres and it was put out.

The article does not point out that after grazing was removed from the area, buffelgrass became a noxious weed. Grazing was removed for fear that they would impact the Saguaro cactus in the Catalina Mountains near Tucson.

It is well known fact that cows constantly rub up against cactus plants of all kinds for their shear pleasurer… NOT!

Like the ecosystem managers involved in agricultural production, federal agencies, and higher education intuitions are constantly learning better ways to support and manage the environment. Like the salt cedar that now invasive in the West, when human use of the environment changes, the environment changes. The environment has been responding to human change for tens of thousands of years.

This situation emphasizes that for every action there is a reaction that may not always be the best thing.

During the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Ag Ambassador Field Day at Bill King Ranch, it was interesting to watch an advocate for the need to teach agriculture about the land to awaken to the fact that ranchers and farmers are not sitting around waiting for the government and non-governmental groups to come and teach them a better job and bestow “champion” titles on them.

They are doing the work on the land and most of them have been for generations. They are not stagnant waiting for enlightenment. They are college educated business people who are constantly looking for and employing the best and latest technology to continue to feed a hungry world.

If the government and others want to help the environment, they need to stop chocking ecosystem managers with a nearly century old cheap food policy. That policy allows people to spend time evaluating others because they don’t have to produce the foods, goods or services that an affluent society enjoys.       

Source: New Mexico Stockman, September 2018

Aug 04 2019

Monsoon Madness

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

Weather has been strange this year. But it’s weather, right?

For most of the Southwest it stayed cold or cool well into June with night-time temperatures well below 60 until July. This is significant at my house because the pool doesn’t get warm enough, for me at least, until it is in the high 90s during the day and above 70 at night.

But I digress. Given the climate or climate change we are living today, I thought it might be informative to check the definitions of weather and climate:

Definition of weather

1: the state of the atmosphere with respect to heat or cold, wetness or dryness, calm or storm, clearness or cloudiness

Definition of climate

1: a region of the earth having specified climatic conditions

2: the average course or condition of the weather at a place usually over a period of years as exhibited by temperature, wind velocity, and precipitation

It is worth noting that as the weather changes, so does the climate. Thus, the cooler than normal temperatures we have recently experienced will change the average course of weather and reflect a change in climate. There is indeed a change in the climate, but is it a catastrophic?

It is true that there have been many weather events around the world in recent years including floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, drought, volcanos and probably more. With numerous 24-hour news networks, including the weather channel, we have instant access to weather information anywhere, anytime. We also have the largest population ever on earth.

This leads me to question are there more of these weather events than ever or do we just know about it now? Because the population continues to grow, do these events seem greater because they are impacting?

In the realm of can’t see the forest for the trees, I read somewhere recently that forest fires are causing climate change. I don’t know about that, but it is no secret forests are thicker than ever… unless they have already burned in a catastrophic fire. There is undisputed science and common sense that tells us that the greater the density of trees the less water is available for the entire watershed. Yet a U.S. Forest Service employee recently tried to dispute this.

So, what does all this have to do with monsoons? Given the later summer, it might be a semi-reasonable expectation that the monsoons – or rainy season for those of us elders – could be late.

However, the meteorology world, at least in New Mexico and Arizona, pre-determined that this year (and probably forever more) that the monsoon season started on June 15. Therefore, local television weather forecasters have been lamenting the lack of monsoons for literally months.

Anyone worth their salt knows that the rainy season begins around the 4th of July and can be as late as August.

Ground Hog Day… all over again

It hardly seems possible, but we are back in a presidential election campaign cycle… again. It is vile already so I cannot even imagine how bad it will get.

It will do you well to remember that New Mexico will be electing a new U.S. Senator along with EVERY member of the New Mexico Legislature is up for election. It is disappointing to see that many of the longstanding New Mexico state senators who support agriculture are already under attack. So far, the attacks have come within these folks’ own party, so those elections will be decided in the June 2020 primary.

The consequences of the primaries in New Mexico are serious enough that in some portions of the state folks are changing party affiliations just to be sure that they have a voice in the outcomes for their local areas.

It is well known that the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) is a non-partisan group that does not make campaign donations nor endorse candidates. HOWEVER, the NMCGA strongly encourages its membership to become involved in political campaigns – up to and including running for office.

It is worth noting that the elections for supervisors for Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) will be held in off general elections years. The first of these elections will be held the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

It seems likely that with this change there will come a need for more aggressive campaigning than every before. The deadline to declare is August 27, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. in your local county clerk’s office. If NMCGA can be of any assistance, please contact us at 505/247.0584 or email nmcga@nmagriculture.org .

Another Do-Over

In mid-July the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed a 60-day notice of intent (NOI) to sue the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to remove riparian grazing from New Mexico and Arizona forests. It was 22 years ago to the month that the CBD and then Forest Guardians filed a similar suit, the infamous 666/2562 case that took many of us to the Federal District Court in Tucson. The trip and the work turned out to be all for not when the USFS sold the ranchers out in a back-room agreement with the enviros.

A NOI is basically a letter that puts the respondent on notice that a suit may be filed at the end of a 60-day period. It is not a prerequisite to filing a suit, but it does cause the parties to come together and try and reach an agreement before it is necessary to file a lawsuit. We hope and pray that the USFS will stand strong this time around.

At issue today is the fact that the USFS is completing a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on several allotments in the Gila and Apache Sitgraves Forests. It has become clear over time that grazing actually enhances species including but not limited to the spikedace and loach minnows, the Chiricahua leopard frog, Southwestern willow flycatcher, the Mexican garter snake and more.

The NOI begs the question, if grazing is removed what are all those wolves going to eat???

The CBD has also filed a case against the FWS challenging the agency’s failure to follow the review process for the lesser prairie chicken. Unfortunately, the FWS did not follow its own process and a summary judgement is likely in that case.

Word is that there have been other NOIs filed by the CBD, but we haven’t had the heart to look those up yet.

Victims No More

It is true that the Southwest ranching community has been victimized by the Endangered Species Act; that cultural genocide has been practiced by the environmental community; and that the $1 million plus that has been spent in litigation over the past 22 years have ultimately gained us little.

That does not mean that its ranchers and their families have given up the ghost and are ready to roll over or evacuate.

Over time we have talked some about environmental justice, but not nearly enough. We need to demand not only environmental justice but also economic justice.

There is no reason that “society wants” should be borne on the backs of small families in rural areas.

It is time to stiffen our backbones and go for it.

Fake Meat

Last month the Stockman focused a section on fake meat. The media has continued to pound out stories on how well the companies selling these products are doing on the Stock Market and how well the products are selling.

If you have concern about the potential impact on the real meat community, all you must do is start telling folks what is in fake meat. One product contains:

Water

  • Pea Protein Isolate*
  • Canola & Sunflower Oil
  • Rice Flour
  • Spices
  • Tomato Powder
  • and 0.5 percent or so of:

Yeast Extract, Potassium Chloride, Tapioca, Maltodexrin, Citric Acid, Salt, Acacia Gum, Onion Extract, Natural Flavor, Garlic Extract

Not only is this list redundant – what are the spices other than salt, onion and garlic? But when you compare that to beef, you have only one ingredient, BEEF.    

Additionally, will this goo attract vegetarians or vegans who don’t want to eat meat?

Oh, by the way, another branded fake meat contains soy… many no longer think soy is a good thing.

Growing Stronger!               

We want to congratulate the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association (ACGA) on their highly successful annual convention in late July in Scottsdale. There were over 570 people in attendance for the three-day event. The first ever ACGA real-time election of officers. Congratulations to Immediate Past President Jay Whetten and his crew of officers and staff. The NMCGA looks forward to working with President Bill Elkins, his officers and staff!

What made the Arizona convention even more fun was the impromptu cousin’s reunion with the Cowan, Davis, Sproul and Lytle families all in attendance. It was great to be with everyone!

Beyond Disgusting….

Last month we talked about the folks taking videos of themselves licking ice cream and then putting it back on the grocery shelf. The have been one-upped.

One grocery store in an unknown location is looking for a woman who urinated on potatoes!

Nuff said.      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, August 2018

Jul 15 2019

So Many Issues, So Little Time…

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

There are a lot of great ideas that come to mind between the writing these columns… I would be ahead of the game if I would just sit down and write it when I think of them. I would be ahead of the game, but I might just be wasting time as new things come up that demand attention.

For this column I will work from latest to oldest just in case I run out of room. One might think that it is mid-summer so what could be so pressing. After all we staged a pretty darned good Mid-Year Meeting even though our two keynote speakers got derailed in Dallas trying to fly from the DC area to New Mexico.

We punted and had some good conversation about the 2020 elections that started months ago. We agreed there is a need to take back the agricultural arena from those who are trying claim they are spokesmen for ranchers, farmers and food.

We broke the general session audience into working groups not once but twice to have fruitful discussions on how we approach the future. No one bolted from the room and everyone seems to have positive things to present. You will be hearing a lot more about the outcomes from those sessions in the months to come. There will be plenty of opportunity and need for your participation.

But all of that seems like eons ago. We are now deep into the planning of the 2019 Joint Stockmen’s Convention, Legislative Interim Committees and dealing with the day to day issues. And what you say, are those issues? After all, we are just past the Independence Day celebrations which could mark a rejuvenation of pride in country and he/she kind.

Wolves never go away and just get worse. Kenneth Artz writing for Heartland in early July stated, “Endangered Mexican gray wolves, reintroduced by the federal government to parts of the Southwestern United States, have killed nearly as many cows and calves in the first four months of 2019 as they did all of last year causing an increase in tensions among U.S. wildlife managers, environmentalists, and rural residents.”

New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association members and others in Southwestern New Mexico and Southeastern Arizona are dealing with blood bathes of wolf kills —kills that are not being compensated for at even a merger level. Word is that depredation reports from 2018 haven’t be completed and we are already half-way through 2019.

We live in the United States of America. How can our government be doing this to us???

The Only Thing Worse…

. . . than wolves are wolves and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) together. In this instance, the agency trying to take away an allotment from a man who plead to a misdemeanor when he was charged with killing a wolf with a shovel. The fact of the matter is that he was told there were no wolves in the area, so he was trapping coyotes. When the wolf was caught, it had to be stunned to be released from the trap. The wolf wandered off and died.

When charges were filed against him, he hired representation that recommended he take a plea deal, pay a fine and walk away. Seems like a logical plan — if there were any logic applied to the Endangered Species Act or the federal government.

Then enters the environmental groups who found a new wedge to remove a rancher from the land. There is a clause in federal permits that says if a permit holder violates state or federal law that the allotment ownership is in jeopardy. The clause doesn’t specify whether the violation is a misdemeanor or a felony.

If you have ever gotten a speeding ticket and paid it, you could be in trouble.

The allotment owner has gone through the USFS appeals process that we have ranted against many times in the last 500,000 plus words I have written for this column.

The USFS appeals process starts with the district ranger. If your appeal is denied there, you may appeal it to the forest supervisor. If you are denied there, you may appeal it to the regional forester. There is no “day” in court in this process. The agency is the arresting officer, the judge, the jury and the executioner.

Once you have exhausted this process, which in this case took nearly seven months, you are at the mercy of the USFS decision or you must file in federal district court. That is an expensive process with a deck loaded against you. That’s were our NMCGA member sits today.

But the enviros are not even satisfied with that. They are now pushing in the media to have him charged with animal cruelty.

Then you watch the news…

In just the last few days, teens have stormed a clothing store and a Walgreen’s stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of goods. While these actions were caught on camera, tracking down these individuals and prosecuting them remains to be seen.

This morning Ted Cruz was tweeting about people opening ice cream cartons, licking them and putting them back in the store freezer. Check the web. It is true. This will undoubtedly lead ice cream makers having to seal their cartons before they can go into stores… again driving up the cost of food. If you are a Cowan ice cream is a major food group ­— Dad and Uncle Bill used to buy it three gallons at a time.

But back to serious, the reality is we have little government in place to protect taxpaying American businesses or Americans. Have you ever looked up the definition of anarchy?

All of this make my recent experiences with Whataburger not having mayonnaise and A & W running out of root beer seem like trivia.

Second Dollar Collection for the Beef Checkoff is Coming

Commencing on July 16, 2019 the New Mexico Beef Council will begin collecting a second dollar on the beef checkoff. This dollar is voluntary and is refundable but there are processes you must file.

The second dollar is voluntary and was made possible by the passage of SB 193 in the 2019 New Mexico Legislature. The statute outlines a procedure regarding opting out of the second dollar and for a refund of the that second dollar if it is collected.

According to New Mexico law, the New Mexico Livestock Board (NMLB) is charged with the responsibility of collecting beef checkoff dollars. The initial dollar, often called the federal dollar, is in place and is not refundable nor is it possible to get a refund. Nothing has changed on that dollar.

The new statute states:

“Producers may elect not to participate in the council assessment for each duly registered New Mexico livestock brand through an application process. The application must be in writing, on a form prescribed by the council for that purpose. Incomplete information on an opt-out form may delay the processing of the form. Upon receipt of the completed form, the council shall notify the board. The board shall enter the request in the board brand database in order to stop collection of the council assessment for the given brand. The council assessment opt-out shall be in effect for three years from the application date. A producer may revoke the opt-out option at any time by request made through the council.”

The forms to opt out of the second dollar may be found at:  https://www.nmbeef.com/ranchersnm/state-assessment

If this form is not in place by July 16, 2019, you will be assessed the second dollar by the NMLB inspectors.

If you pay the second dollar assessment, you may apply for a refund. The statute addresses refunds as follows:

“Any person who has paid a council assessment is entitled to a refund of the amount paid by making written application therefor to the council. The application form shall be returned within thirty days after the inspection was made giving rise to the council and shall contain enough detail to enable the council to find the record of payment. Refunds shall be made within thirty days of the date of the application unless the proceeds and the necessary information have not been received by the council, in which case the refund shall be made within fifteen days after receipt of the proceeds and necessary information. The form shall be provided by the council.”

This refund application may also be found at:  https://www.nmbeef.com/ranchersnm/state-assessment

Should you have any questions or need further information, please visit the New Mexico Beef Council website at https://www.nmbeef.com/ , call the Beef Council at 505/841-9407 or write to 1209 Mountain Road Place NE, Suite C, Albuquerque, NM 87110.

State Land Leases Due August 1.

The New Mexico State Land Office (SLO) has issued its lease renewals for 2019. Not every lease comes up for renewal every year. The SLO renews approximately one fifth of the leases every year.

The leases look a bit different from those in years past but there are no significant changes in the lease that appear to be of concern. Every Commissioner has the flexibility to make changes to the lease. The 2019 leases are reflective of a new Commissioner.

It is extremely important that grazing leases get their leases signed and turned back in by the deadline. If you don’t make the deadline and someone chooses to bid against you for the lease, you have no opportunity to match or exceed that bid.

Your only protection against competitive bidding is to file and pay your lease by the August 1 deadline.

Should you have any questions, you may contact the NMCGA office at 505/247-0584 or email nmcga@nmagriculture.org .

The Border

This is another seemingly unending government issue. It was pleasant to see that the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives finally agreed to a bill that provided more funding to aide the poor Border Patrol that is doing its best handle the hundreds of thousands of people who are assaulting our Mexican border.

The news recently reported that from May to June 2019 monthly crossing were down by 40,000, but both months still topped over 100,000 each. Hopefully this is some reflection of the better job the Mexican government is doing on their side of the border.

But federal debate remains hot. We did a call to action to OAC asking her to come to the border and actually see what is going on. To her credit, she did come close to the border in recent days.

However, she only visited the detention centers that have been begging for adequate funding to care for migrants, immigrants or illegal immigrants depending upon who is speaking.

I found myself in quite a debate on this issue at a national meeting I recently attended. The topic of the session was addressing the public to get our message (or message) across to the public. Over the past 20 years there has been lots of advice on how to better inform the general public about our issues. We have gone from having women doing the speaking. White men have no value in the public arena. Then we went for making a fairness plea.

The current advice is to share our fears with the public hoping they will resonate with the fears of the public. I’ll try anything, but so far, my fears don’t seem to be having any affect on anyone else… they have their own fears.

Inevitably the issue of addressing the border crisis came up. One of the presenters said she had to be very careful in talking about the border. After all, her grandparents were immigrants.

Well dah! Do you know anyone, except for Indians whose grandparents or great-grandparents who weren’t???

I attempted to take issue with the comment, but the moderator refused to call on me. At least one person in the room felt that the moderators only called on men and let them speak more than once even though the session was time limited.

Not to be deterred I stood up at the end of the Session and asked my previous question anyway. It looked like the gloves might come off.

A young man seated a little behind me and to my right immediately yelled that my question was unfair because our founding generations didn’t have to face the oppression as these poor illegal immigrants are facing today. The moderator quickly started clearing the room.

I cornered the young man and told him about my fears for my mother who lives about 40 miles north of the border who had her chicken coop raided. The offender could have all the eggs he wanted, but the idea that she was/is that close to potential harm scares me to death.

His answer was that the Republicans are making a mess of this. I retorted that this was NOT a partisan issue but a humanitarian issue for people on both sides of the border. He again blamed the Republicans. I wouldn’t agree and he finally disengaged himself.

I gave him my card and told him if he was ready to work on a solution without name calling to let me know. He sent me a kind thank you note for the exchange of ideas.     

Source: New Mexico Stockman, July 2018

May 31 2019

In our dreams …

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

According to Michael Bastasch, Energy Editor for the Daily Caller, the Interior Department will publicly list attorneys’ fees paid out, often to environmental activist groups, for legal settlements, says a recent memo from Principal Deputy Solicitor Daniel Jorjani.

Jorjani’s memo states the Interior Department will develop a web page within 30 days to publicly list details of legal settlements and cases, which the agency says is a big step in bringing sunshine to a non-transparent practice that the public is largely unaware is happening.

The memo in response to a 2018 order from Interior Secretary David Bernhardt while he served as former Secretary Ryan Zinke’s number two. Environmental groups have been particularly successful using “citizen suits” to sue the federal government into taking an action, then getting taxpayers to pay their attorneys’ fees. A 2016 Daily Caller News Foundation investigation found federal agencies paid out $49 million for 512 citizen suits filed under three major environmental laws during the Obama administration.

There’s also the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), which was enacted in 1980 to help people, small businesses and groups recoup the costs of defending their rights in court. Groups can get EAJA attorneys’ fees awarded by suing under environmental laws.

The EAJA caps what agencies can pay out for attorneys’ fees at roughly $200 per hour, and the law stipulates payments should only go to individuals or groups with a net worth under $7 million.

The Interior Department is a frequent target of environmental litigation. Groups often sue under the ESA to get the agency to, for example, consider listing a species. When litigation ends, environmentalists can get their attorneys’ fees paid at taxpayer expense whether or not they win.

The group Earthjustice, for example, raked in more than $2.3 million from taxpayers suing the Interior Department under the ESA, TheDCNF found in 2016. Earthjustice is also financially well-endowed — the group’s net assets totaled $68 million in 2015.

Another group, the Center for Biological Diversity, has sued the Trump administration alone more than 100 times, including to stop the building of a southern border wall. The center has also won attorneys’ fees from the Interior Department despite having $19 million in net assets as of 2016.

Often “citizen suits” result in federal agencies, like the Interior Department, taking more regulatory actions favored by environmental activists. Critics say such lawsuits allow activists to profit off pushing their agenda in the courts.

“EAJA was never intended to be used to make a profit from suing the federal government, but only as an attorneys’ fees reimbursement for small businesses and individuals who have to sue the federal government to protect their rights,” the Interior official said.

This is an issue that the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMGCA) has worked on for years.

The Association greatly appreciates this step by the Department of the Interior.

New Mexico State Beef Checkoff

As we have mentioned, a voluntary second dollar for the Beef Council was passed in the 2019 Legislature and signed by the Governor. There will be a rule-making process. To that end, the following notice has been posted on the State Register:

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the New Mexico Beef Council will hold a public rulemaking hearing on June 27, 2019. The hearing will begin at 3:00 p.m. at the State Bar of New Mexico (5121 Masthead St. NE,Classroom. The purpose of the rulemaking hearing is to consider a rule to reestablish the New Mexico Beef Council’s State Assessment (Council Assessment). The administrative record will be utilized by the Council in adopting a final rule.

Purpose: The purpose of this proposed rule is to provide regulations for collection, refund and opt out of the New Mexico Beef Council State Assessment as defined in Section 77-2A-7.1 NMSA 1978. The proposed rule will be added to the New Mexico Administrative Code as: 21.35.7 NMAC – NM Beef Council State Assessment (Council Assessment) Collection Procedures.

Details for Obtaining a Copy, Public Hearing and Comments: The proposed rules are available at New Mexico Beef Council, 1209 Mountain Road Place NE, Suite C, Albuquerque, NM 87110. The proposed rules are also posted on the NMBC website, NMBeef.com under the Rancher/Dairy Farmer Tab, State Assessment. To request that a copy of the proposed rules be sent to you by mail or e-mail, please contact StateAssessment@NMBeef.com or 1-505/841-9407.

A public hearing will be held at 3:00 p.m. at the State Bar of New Mexico (5121 Masthead St. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109) in the Keleher Classroom. Any person who is or may be affected by this proposed rule may appear and testify. Interested persons may submit written comments to NMBC at 1209 Mountain Road Place NE, Suite C, Albuquerque, NM 87110 or StateAssessment@NMBeef.com. Written comments must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on June 26, 2019. Please note that any written comments received will become part of the rulemaking record. If submitting written comments by email, please indicate in the subject line the number and section of each rule(s) for which you are providing comments. Oral comments will also be accepted at the rule hearing, subject to time limitations. Legal authority for this rulemaking can be found in Section 28-10-2 NMSA 1978.

Any person with a disability who is in need of a reader, amplifier, qualified sign language interpreter, or auxiliary aid or service to attend or participate in the hearing should contact 1-505/841-9407 or email StateAssessment@NMBeef.com at least ten (10) business days prior to the hearing.

The NMCGA will be preparing draft comments. Watch your email or come to the Mid-Year Meeting in Ruidoso June 9 through 11!

Thanks to NMCGA’s latest Premier Sponsor!

The NMCGA is proud to announce that the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association (NMOGA) has signed on as a Premier Sponsor of the NMCGA and its programs. It becomes increasingly clear that natural resource users are to rise or fall as a group.

It is well known that from time to time agriculture and oil and gas don’t see eye to eye on some issues. Over the past few years both NMCGA and NMOGA have worked together to address those issues and look forward to ever better relationships.

Reality Check

Financial and logistical support for border communities coping with an influx of asylum-seeking migrants (illegal immigrants) are on the agenda as the governor of New Mexico travels to Washington to meet with federal officials, according to a Las Cruces Sun Times story by Isabella Solis with contributions from Diana Alba Soular published in late May.

The two-day visit to the nation’s capital by Lujan Grisham was include a meeting with acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, said Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for the governor.

Lujan Grisham will advocate for federal reimbursements to communities as they provide humanitarian relief to migrant (illegal immigrant) families.

Lujan also announced that New Mexico will offer grants to reimburse local government agencies that provide humanitarian aid. State lawmakers recently set aside $2.5 million for border security. The governor’s office declined to specify how much money is available.

“It is our duty as a state, in the absence of a comprehensive shift in strategy and personnel deployment on the part of the federal government, to accommodate and facilitate the needs of both these asylum seekers and the local communities where they are being released,” Lujan Grisham said in a letter to Republican state lawmakers, who have criticized her approach to immigration pressures.

Democrat-led cities including Las Cruces and Albuquerque have embraced humanitarian relief efforts, while the Sierra County Commission approved a resolution recently that opposes the relocation of migrants within county boundaries, citing the area’s own impoverished circumstances and the potential for migrants to get stranded in towns that don’t have bus, rail or commercial flight service.

Stelnicki said Lujan Grisham also wants to discuss with U.S. officials the withdrawal of the U.S. Border Patrol from interior checkpoints in southern New Mexico. The closures have riled residents, prompting an emergency declaration by Otero County commissioners urging the state to intervene.

Communities in the south of the state are “taking on a lot of the cost of a federal problem, stepping into the breach,” Stelnicki said.

Lujan Grisham previously challenged President Trump’s description of a security crisis on the border as she withdrew all but a dozen national guardsmen who continue to address humanitarian needs in a remote corridor along the border.

Las Cruces, where more than 6,000 migrants have been dropped off by Border Patrol since April 12, has approved $575,000 in spending on aid for migrants from a hospital trust account.

The city and faith-based groups are providing temporary shelter, clothing, food and sanitary supplies to asylum seekers, who typically stay for one or two nights before departing to join family and other sponsors throughout the U.S.

As Las Cruces struggles to keep up, migrants have been dropped in the smaller community of Deming and bused — in one instance — to Denver.

A dozen Republican legislators have urged Lujan Grisham to reverse course and deploy more National Guard troops to the border. The governor says troops are a costly, inappropriate option.

A meeting with U.S. Health & Human Services officials was being sought regarding resources for medical attention for migrants (illegal immigrants).

These actions of Governor to obtain federal assistance are welcomed by rural New Mexicans who are suffering from the humanitarian crisis on both sides of the border.    

Source: New Mexico Stockman, June 2018

Multimin Health

Original Environmentalist