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, 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 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 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 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

May 01 2019

What are our options?

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

Discussions are going on everywhere about the socialist movement in our country both for and against. I readily admit that what we call a “socialist movement” may not fit everyone’s definition of the term. That’s the great part about our country – we can have differing views and still be a free people. Or, at least that’s the way it used to be.

In many cases today, if you disagree with someone you must be the Devil himself and there is nothing that is too bad to do to you.

I must take a pause in my previous thought. I have always believed that the Devil was a he, I don’t know where that knowledge or supposition came from, but there is it. Today I guess I don’t have the luxury of assigning a gender even to the Devil – we must wait until he/she/or other reveals himself.

That brings me to another question… when I was tooling down the highway in northeast New Mexico yesterday, I saw a few bunches of antelope. There were at least two groups of doe grazing and then further there was a bachelor herd of bucks. It got me to thinking, since there is a growing number of people in the world that believe animals should have the same rights as humans, does that mean that they will get to make their own gender designations too?

But I digress. Back to the what I believe is a selfish society that is spreading. I heard a sermon recently that talked about the need to be less centered on self and more centered on what we can do for others. It certainly rang true to the needs we have today.

A prime example of the carelessness of people today reared its head when we were loading to come home from the Legislature. The ag group room is filled with chairs, tables, supplies, a coat rack and other necessities for the meetings that are held three days a week during Session.

Thankfully we had a good crew to help load and Randell Major’s pickup to do the hauling. Naturally that pickup was parked in the lane to have space to get it all in. Just before the truck was filled to the gills, this woman (there is an evermore stark contrast between women and ladies) walked up behind and told us we needed to move the truck immediately – her moving van was blocking about three times the size of the lane behind us and she wanted us out of the way NOW.

She was totally oblivious to the fact that we too were moving. She was informed that we would be moving as soon as we were finished. That was the best response I could give on Day 59 of the worst Legislature I have been treated to in about 28 years.

So why my question about options? As we survey the situations, we are living in today we do have options. Some are looking to move out of state. Some who can afford it are contemplating moving out of the country. But where else is better to live than New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, you fill in the blank?

Maybe it is time that we spend more time looking out to see what we can do for others than thinking about our own “troubled” lives. That list of doing for others in a legislative sense is explore running for elected office; to seek out someone who will run, and you can support; to support those who have supported us; and to pray for the future of our nation.

The 2020 election is looming, as we can see from the plethora of presidential candidates jumping into the race. In state legislative races in New Mexico and neighboring states, the real election is going to be in the primaries, not the general. With that in mind we are just 13 months from an election day.

Undoubtedly there will be hundreds of million dollars spent on media and campaigning, getting the job of electing those who share our believes done will required good, old-fashioned hard work. Please start thinking about what YOU can do and how you plan to get it done.

Where does NM stand?

We are tired of hearing how badly New Mexico ranks in oh so many categories across the country. But after the Legislature that had one of the biggest budget surpluses in history AND passed the largest tax increase in a long time there is yet another one to contemplate.

According to a study by PEW Charitable Trusts, there are still nine states in the nation who haven’t yet recovered from the last recession in terms of tax revenues. Guess who’s on that list?

The nine states where revenues were still down from their recession era peaks include: Alaska (-83.7 percent), Wyoming (-37.7 percent), New Mexico (-11.8 percent), Florida (-9.0 percent), Ohio (-7.2 percent), Oklahoma (-6.0 percent), Louisiana (-4.7 percent), Mississippi (-1.4 percent), and New Jersey (-1.4 percent).

The PEW data is for state tax revenues in the third quarter of last year, and shows that in that time period, which ran through September, tax collections for all 50 states, after adjusting for inflation, were up 13.4 percent compared to their peak in 2008.

The PEW report can be found at .

This isn’t news to ranchers and farmers…

USDA’s Economic Research Service’s Food Dollar Series recently revealed that in 2016 the farmers’ share of the food dollar fell to 14.8 cents, down 4.5 percent from the prior year and the lowest level since the series was launched in 1993, according to a post by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

When adjusted for inflation, in 2009 dollars, the farmers’ share of the food dollar was 12.2 cents, down 11.6 percent from 2015 and again the lowest level since the series began. The farmers’ share of the $1 spent on domestically produced food represents the percentage of the farm commodity sales tied to that food dollar expenditure. Non-farm related marketing associated with the food dollar, i.e. transportation, processing, marketing, etc., rose to a record-high of 85.2 cents.

USDA tracks several other methods of food consumption in the Food Dollar Series. For 2016, the farmers’ share of food consumed at home was 23.6 cents, down 2.9 percent from the prior year. For food and beverages consumed at home, the farm share was 18.9 cents, down 3.8 percent from 2015.

The largest decline in the farm share of the food dollar was in food consumed away from home. The farm share of food away from home was 4.4 cents, down 10.2 percent from the prior year. The smaller share of the food dollar consumed outside of the home is attributable to the costs of restaurant food service and preparation. For all but the food and beverage dollar consumed at home and the food at home dollar, the farmers’ share of the food dollar is at record-low levels.

But this might be news to eaters…

Americans’ budget share for total food changed little during the last 20 years. In 2016, Americans spent an average of 9.9 percent of their disposable personal incomes on food—divided between food at home (5.2 percent) and food away from home (4.7 percent), according to…food…the…/food-prices-and-spending .

Between 1960 and 2007, the share of disposable personal income spent on total food by Americans fell from 17.5 to 9.6 percent, as the share of income spent on food at home fell. The share of income spent on food purchased in grocery stores and other retailers declined from 14.1 percent in 1960 to 5.5 percent in 2007, according to  in an April 28, 2019 post.

At the same time, the percent of income spent on food purchased at restaurants, fast food places, and other away-from-home eating places increased from 3.4 to 4.1 percent. The share of income spent on total food began to flatten in 2000, as inflation-adjusted incomes for many Americans have stagnated or fallen over the last decade or so.

In addition, between 2006 and 2013, food price inflation has been greater than overall inflation, making food more costly. In 2013, Americans spent 5.6 percent of their disposable personal incomes on food at home and 4.3 percent on food away from home.

Pinpointing exact data for any one year doesn’t seem possible in a web search. The numbers, and sources used here seem to cover the greatest amount of time ranging from 1960 to 2016.

And here in New Mexico

Finding data for what New Mexicans spend on food is next to impossible. The only source I could find was . That sight contains two (2) budget calculators. The one that pops up is for 25 rural New Mexico counties. You can put in the county you want and the family size and a budget pops up. For most counties the food budget was steady at $701 per month for a family of two (2) adults and two (2) children.

If you go down below that budget you will this statement: “The Economic Policy Institute also has a Family Budget Calculator for the metro areas of Albuquerque, Farmington, Las Cruces, and Santa Fe, as well as rural New Mexico, that has slightly newer data.”

Looking at that calculator shows that the same family of four pays $784 a month in Santa Fe County, $731 in Bernalillo County, and $721 in Dona Ana County. As for the slightly new data, the family of four in Catron County spends $718 up $17 from the first page.

In the absence on what is spent at home or eating out, I am assuming that this is dollars spent on food eaten at home.

International Data

This information will create some confusion, but it appears that this data is only on food consumed in the home, and not eating out. There are only eight countries in the world that spend less than 10 percent of their household income on food. Four of these are in Europe: the UK is third at 8.2 percent, followed by Switzerland at 8.7 percent; Ireland spends 9.6 percent and Austria 9.9 percent.

The remaining four countries are spread across the globe. The US spends the least at 6.4 percent, Singapore spends the second lowest amount at 6.7 percent. Canada spends 9.1 percent on food, while Australia spends 9.8 percent.

Source: /2016/12/this-map-shows-how-much -each-country-spends-on-food


It is time to Celebrate 20 years! Hard to believe it but the Women in Ag Leadership Conference is crossing a milestone. We are calling on women passionate about agriculture to come to learn and EARN YOUR SPURS. The focus will be on personal development leadership. Participants will sharpen their rowels on etiquette, selling yourself, time management, organization, a great tour and so much more. Attendees will leave with tangible tools and resources to help them be the best version.

The conference commences on Tuesday May 28 and runs through May 30 at the Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown, 2600 Louisiana Blvd NE, in Albuquerque. Where there may be rooms left available in the WALC block.

This year’s conference will be the 12th biennial with 250+ attendees expected.  WALC will again be reaching out to young women who also share a love of agriculture and want to improve themselves to make the industry better. This program had been a huge success with over 50 future leaders in attendance at passed conferences.

You can registered NOW at . Prices range from $50 to $130.

Heartfelt Thanks!

A new governor brings new appointees. We will see new faces on the New Mexico State Game Commission in the coming weeks or months. But we cannot miss the opportunity to thank the folks who have served with honor and integrity to balance the needs of wildlife, landowners and managers and the sports hunting, fishing and trapping public. We salute you for the time, effort and patience you have given us for years.     

Source: New Mexico Stockman, May 2018

Mar 31 2019

Let’s start with a celebration …

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

The 2019 Legislature is history and there are just a few days left for the Governor to sign, veto or pocket veto the 300-plus bills that made it to her desk. There were some wins for agriculture and the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) that we will review, but first we need to celebrate THE best rally I have ever seen.

On March 12, after a highly successful trip to Washington, D.C. topped off with a phone conversation with President Trump, Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin and his merry band know as Cowboys for Trump (C4T) marched to the Roundhouse in Santa Fe. The media reported that there were some 90 men, women and children on horses, ponies and mules who rode from the Santa Fe Rodeo Grounds to the State Capitol complete with police escort.

The last leg of the ride was down Old Pecos Trail — a route traveled by other trailblazers. Following the riders were at least five pickups full of people. Nearly everyone mounted or in vehicles was carrying an American flag.

The intersection of Old Pecos Trail and Paseo de Peralta was closed in all directions as the riders streamed up the entrance to the Capitol all the way to the end of the trees in front of the building. There was a spontaneous chant of USA from the riders. It was a proud moment.

That pride continued as most of the riders dismounted and worked their way over to the north portico and where a podium and mic were waiting. The speaking portion of the event opened in cowboy style with a prayer, the Pledge and the National Anthem. Then there were several short speakers whose time was cut even shorter by rain and hail. Even with the hail coming down the event closed with a prayer. The riders had a fairly wet ride back to the rodeo grounds.

The rally didn’t focus on any single piece of legislation or issue but rather on many pending bills and constitutional rights. It drew the attention of many legislators and a multitude of lobbyists. One can fairly assume that there was impact on the final bills going through the Legislature.

A huge congratulations and a debt of gratitude is owned to the C4T riders and their whole crew.

The Year of Greed

Money was the main focus of the 2019 Legislature although there were tons of other hot topics. Going into the Session the State of New Mexico sat on one of the largest financial surpluses ever thanks to the more than $1 billion in revenue generated by the oil and gas industry.

There is a running battle over where all that money would go from day one. But one of the early introduced bills was a huge tax increase. While that increase seemed doomed and didn’t move until the end of the Session, it did make it through.

Part of the need for the measure arose from the need to make tax code changes due to the federal tax bill passed in 2018 and taking effect in 2019. This is an issue that is happening in neighboring states as well. The added state taxes are being tacked on to those bills as well.

The tug of war over HB 6 continued through the last night of the Legislature and into the final hours of Session. The original bill called for about $300 million of new taxes. One Senate version trimmed that number to about $11 million — which House sponsors of the bill said wasn’t worth the time to do. A compromise was reached at some number between the $11 and $300 million. One thing for certain is that vehicle registrations and renewals will be going up. HB 6 has been called the largest tax increase ever seen in New Mexico. Seems strange with an over $1 billion surplus, doesn’t it? Is this a sign of things to come?

There were numerous gun bills in this Session, and we can expect to see many of them again and more in the years to come. Only two measures were passed in this Session. One on background checks has been signed by the Governor. The other dealing with orders of protection and fire arms ownership is yet to be signed. Special thanks to Joe Culbertson who ran point for NMCGA and others on the gun issues.

There was over $15 million requested for soil conservation and watershed projects including the interest off a $150 million Ag & Natural Resources Trust fund. It appears that only about $375,000 was put into the budget, which is yet to be signed.

The late term abortion bill also didn’t make it through the body. This bill was explained as a measure to fix existing law in the event that there was federal action on the Supreme Court’s Roe vs Wade decision. Similar measures were introduced across the nation. The New York law has passed while others are awaiting actions.

The voluntary increase in the Beef Checkoff passed and was signed by the Governor early in the Session. We are awaiting rules on the measure from the Beef Council in the weeks and months to come.

Senator Pat Woods got a bill passed to undo an error in the Department of Transportation statutes passed in 2018 that took away state responsibility for fences and cattle guards along state highways. That bill is waiting for signature from the Governor as well.

An issue that didn’t get the direction that it needed is that of wild or feral horses. A State District Court ruling from Lincoln County has thrown who has purview of horses that are loose. There are several bills ranging from reasonable to way too far out there introduced and negotiated but none was able to make it to the Governor’s desk.

As a result, feral or wild horses will continue to pose a significant risk for motorists throughout New Mexico for the coming year.

The court case is currently being appealed. Hopefully the ruling on that case will come sooner rather than later.

These and other bills in this Session provide more proof that deal-making is not an appropriate way to work out solutions. Several “deals” were made with so-called wild horse advocates during the 60-day Session. Bit it didn’t matter if an agreement had been reached. It generally didn’t take very long for the negotiated bill to come up in committee or on one of the floors, only to have the agreed upon language stripped or more unnegotiated new amendments to be offered.

Legislators always want the various sides on an issue to come to the table and work something out. That certainly didn’t pay off this year and it will be difficult to move forward with unscrupulous groups and individuals in good faith.

All in all, the Session was a tough one, but NMCGA and its policies got by pretty well. Thanks to the bill readers, all the folks that read bills, made calls and sent emails in response to calls to action, and to the courageous representatives and senators on both sides of the isle that made the hard votes to protect all New Mexicans.

With the 2020 election all too close, these folks are going to need all the help we can give them, not only in campaign donations but in sending more folks to the House and Senate to support. Senators John Arthur Smith and Clemente Sanchez have already been named as targets in some circles. Please get involved NOW!!!

25 Percent of Mexicans Wolves Dead in 2019…

. . . comes at the hands of wolf officials. Thus far in 2019 four Mexican wolf deaths have been confirmed in Arizona and New Mexico, according to the Arizona Game & Fish Department. Two were found dead in New Mexico, along with one in Arizona. A fourth wolf died at the hands of wolf program employees who had captured it to replace a faulty radio collar.

I realize that my headline is a bit alarming… but it is true. One of the four dead wolves was killed by program officials. I am just using numbers the same way our detractors do.

Wolf proponents bent on getting rid of livestock grazing by any means necessary claim that wolf depredations by Mexican wolves are less than one-half percent based on US Department of Agriculture (USDA) generic national numbers.

Looking at U.S. Forest Service data available on their website, in the 2018 grazing season there were 16,161 active animal unit months (AUMs) in four ranger districts. Not all of those AUMs are in use. During that year Catron County Wolf Investigator Jess Carey confirmed 74 kills with eight probables.

The USDA Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) pays 60 to 65 percent of the value on confirmed losses and will pay for those missing on wolf losses. The program also pays only after the “normal” livestock loss of two percent. In 2018 LIP paid for 856 cows, calves and bulls who were confirmed dead or missing in the wolf area.

All of this works out to livestock losses at 5.7 percent, nearly three times what is considered normal for annual livestock losses. An NMCGA member computed all these numbers and it probably took a little while to get them all together.

It is a whole easier to use a non-applicable generic number to make your point.

Policy Development Reminder

Every so often it is worthwhile to revisit how the NMCGA develops the policy that guides the actions of the Association.

Policy starts with any NMCGA member who would like to bring an issue to the Association. At the December Annual Meeting or the Mid-Year Meeting in June there is the opportunity to bring an idea or resolution forward to the appropriate committee.

The committee will discuss it and then vote up or down. If the vote is up, the committee will take the item to the Board of Directors and membership. If the vote is down, the proponent retains the option of bringing the item to the Board and membership from the floor.

The Board and membership have the opportunity to again discuss the issue and take a majority rules vote. If the measure passes the policy is used by NMCGA leadership and staff to work on the issue. Neither leadership or staff has the ability or power to deviate from that policy if there is an expectation of continuing to hold their position or employment.

With the 2019 Mid-Year Meeting schedule for June 9 through 11 in Ruidoso, start planning now on any issues that you may want to bring up.      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, April 2018

Mar 01 2019

What Comes Next?

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

With just over two weeks left in the 2019 New Mexico Legislature, there is plenty of uncertainty. There seems to be no stopping some of the more frightening bills. It is critically important that everyone respond to calls to action in coming days.

Numerous measures will dramatically impact nearly all the sectors of the economy that support the state, the nation and most importantly to us, rural economies. Indeed, New Mexico In Depth, a more liberal news outlet, recently ran a story entitled “Life After Coal: San Juan Miners, Economists Wonder What’s Next” by Elizabeth Miller.

It is a tale of a miner’s journey to the Roundhouse to lobby on behalf of his job and the numerous others in his region. He faces the end of his job sometime before the San Juan Generating Station shuts down in 2022.

According to the article, PNM announced plans to close the plant well before its anticipated decommissioning date of 2053, ostensibly because coal-fired power is no longer cost-effective. Nor will that plant allow PNM to comply with increased renewable power requirements lawmakers are contemplating.

Whether PNM replaces coal with a natural gas plant or goes all-in on solar, both see major job losses as they move from construction to maintenance. The plant’s closure is expected to cost 450 jobs, with substantial ripple effects. San Juan County, San Juan Community College and the Central Consolidated School District are projected to lose nearly $9 million in property tax revenue.

Already, the Farmington area has weathered unemployment rates at or above 10 percent in the last decade. Locals report a sluggish home market and friends underwater in their mortgages.

The aspiration is to replace hundreds of high-paying jobs in a short span of time in a region where economic opportunities are sparse. But it’s like the miner said: It’s assembling a parachute after you’ve leapt from a traveling plane.

San Juan County is not the only place local communities will suffer. Mining legislation threatens to do the same in Grant County. Numerous oil and gas bills will impact Southeastern New Mexico.

It is baffling that those who worship the Earth don’t understand that it is the Earth that gives us the resources we need to live. Additionally, it is those resources that provide the basis for our economy.

Meanwhile down at the border…

Ranchers in New Mexico and Arizona continue to plead for a safe and secure environment for their families. The confusion between illegal immigration and a safe and secure border continues to reign.

On the New Mexico side the Cattle Growers’ (NMCGA) have implemented an offense strategy on Twitter and Facebook. Those avenues have garnered national attention, with President Trump tweeting out an Albuquerque television report that told the real story about what life is like along the border.

The reaction here at home wasn’t what we might have hoped. In order to clarify the need for safety NOW, the following policy statement has been crafted:

New Mexico and Arizona border ranchers have serious security concerns on the Mexican border that reach well beyond immigration and border wall issues.

The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association has had a member murdered on the Arizona side. Another member had an employee kidnapped, beaten and held for days at gun point. No one is safe without a gun moving around their home, barns, corrals and pastures.

Ranchers empathize and sympathize with those who are seeking asylum. Historically the practice on border ranches was to provide food and water for folks coming across the border. Today that is not safe due to the size and number of groups along with the volume of drugs coming across the border.

But while immigration and the wall dominate the nation scene and media, we here at home must have safety and security for our children, families and property.

Concerned citizens of United States/Mexico border counties are hosting a public meeting on Saturday, March 9, 2019 at 1 pm at the United Methodist Church in Deming, New Mexico. The increase of illegal immigrants and drug/human smugglers from Mexico continues to create a common fear among border residents for their safety and the safety of their loved ones.

Pleas for help from not only Washington, but state governments as well, are falling on deaf ears. That, combined with false coverage by mainstream media, has border county citizens fed up. Presentations will be made by a diverse group of industry experts and border residents that have been involved with this ongoing issue for years. Topics to be covered include health and safety issues, drug and sex trafficking, and animal disease contamination. It is the hope of the planning committee that this meeting will bring the safety and security concerns from those residing in every border county along the United States/Mexico border to the general public’s attention.

In addition to the general public, other invitees include elected officials from local, state and federal agencies, as well as several media outlets. Work is underway to set up live streaming of the meeting on Facebook and YouTube. Watch them and your emails for more details on that.

In March 2016 NMCGA members in the Bootheel held a similar gathering in the tiny hamlet of Animas, drawing hundreds of people from across the nation. Unfortunately, the only federal elected official who attended was then Congressman Steve Pearce.

In southern Arizona a group of ranchers are exercising their First Amendment rights in seeking a redress of grievances from their senators and congressman, according to a post from the Tucson People for the West chapter.

These ranchers must deal everyday with illegal crossings and lack of proper infrastructure that would make our southern border more secure. Unlike politicians spouting talking points, these ranchers have first-hand knowledge of what is really going on along the southern border. The federal government is failing to adequately protect the private property rights of these ranchers.

One of the ranchers, Jim Chilton, has a ranch which lies south of Arivaca, Arizona, and extends to the Mexican border. On the ranch, the Mexican border is marked by a four-strand barbed wire fence. That’s all. There are many trails from the border through the ranch. Two years ago, Jim set up cameras on two of the trails. During that time the cameras captured approximately 500 trespassers going both north and south. Jim suspects he has recorded drug smugglers. The ranch headquarters has been burglarized twice and often water supply pipes to stock tanks have been broken. The smugglers have free run of the ranch because there is no real barrier.

Their Petition reads:

Whereas, one of the most active drug smuggling and human trafficking corridors in the Nation is the international boundary between Nogales and Sasabe, Arizona;

Whereas, 25 miles along the border area south of Arivaca is marked by only an old four-strand barbed wire cattle fence;

Whereas, the Sinaloa Cartel has control of this 25-mile international boundary and of the thousands of square miles of minimally patrolled ranchland adjacent to it inside the United States, due to lack of adequate border infrastructure, the Border Patrol has been largely restricted to a “Defense in Depth” strategy which is inefficient due to rough terrain and inadequate access and allows the presence of well- equipped cartel scouts on top of our mountains to successfully direct drug and human trafficking;

Whereas, although the Tucson Station Patrol Agent-in-Charge and Border Patrol agents try their best to do their job, the lack of access and infrastructure, cartel scout presence, and rough terrain and inefficient “Defense in Depth” strategy creates a de facto “no man’s land” in which border ranchers live and work;

Whereas, the national Border Patrol Council Vice President, Art del Cueto, has asserted on national television that under the present situation, no more than 50 percent of illegal crossers are apprehended;

Whereas, Border Patrol agents are headquartered in Tucson, eighty miles and three hours from the border on our ranches and there are no roads paralleling the border and no efficient north-south access for the Border Patrol to respond to incursions; and

Whereas, current “defense in depth” strategy means the Tucson Station Border Patrol agents are dispersed across the 4,000 square miles of area of responsibility and are operating in the “backfield” instead of operating on the 25 linear miles of the actual border;

Therefore be it resolved, Border ranchers petition our government to construct an adequate security barrier such as a Bollard-style fence at the border, good all-weather, well-maintained roads leading to the border and along it, adequate, modern flood gates at water crossings, appropriate surveillance technology to monitor Border Patrol personnel and border status, air mobile support, and reliable communications for Border Patrol agents to call for back-up, and forward operations bases near the border barrier to effectively secure the international boundary between Nogales and Sasabe, Arizona.

The petition is signed by these ranchers: Jim Chilton, Chilton Ranch; Tom Kay, Jarillas Ranch; John R. Smith, Arivaca Ranch; Ted Noon, Oro Blanco Ranch; and Lowell Robinson, Tres Bellotas Ranch.

Electric cars, taxes & road repair…

U.S. roads and bridges are in abysmal shape—and that was before the recent winter storms made things even worse, says Jay L. Zagorsky, “The Conversation”, in a RouteFifty post.

In fact, the government rates over one-quarter of all urban interstates as in fair or poor condition and one-third of U.S. bridges need repair.

To fix the potholes and crumbling roads, federal, state and local governments rely on fuel taxes, which raise more than $80 billion a year and pay for around three-quarters of what the U.S. spends on building new roads and maintaining them.

The yield from these taxes is shrinking. Cars and trucks get better gas mileage than ever, thus reducing the amount of taxes paid. Then you throw electric cars in the mix.

Presently there are no taxes on the electric charging stations, already in place and those proposed. Nothing is going to road maintenance of those electric vehicles. As the growth of the electric car market continues, road problems will only get worse.

Charging stations operate just like gas pumps, only they provide kilowatts of electricity instead of gallons of fuel. While electric vehicle owners are free to use their own power outlets, anyone traveling long distances must use these stations. And because charging at home is a hassle—requiring eight to 20 hours—most drivers will increasingly choose the convenience and speed of the charging stations, which can fill up an EV in as little as 30 minutes, thinks Zagorsky.

One option could be for governments to tack on their taxes to the bill, charging a few extra cents per kilowatt “pumped into the tank.” Furthermore, I would argue that the tax—whether on fuel or power—shouldn’t be a fixed amount but a percentage, which makes it less likely to be eroded by inflation over time.

On the subject of taxes…

HB 206, a massive new tax bill in the New Mexico Legislature, has passed its first committee. Given the time left in the Session, the chances of this bill making it all the way through the House and the Senate are not great. However, some legislation can grow legs and make a run for sine die. Don’t count this one out yet.

Congratulations are in order!!!

The New Mexico Beef Council’s Dina Reitzel has been appointed to the New Mexico State University Board of Regents! It appears she will be confirmed by the New Mexico Senate well before the end of the Session and will be representing agriculture soon.

Please join us in extending congratulations to Dina!

Abby T. Sheppard

Some of you have had the pleasure of meeting Abby. Most of you who have were afraid of her. She was just doing her job –protecting me.

Abby was born in June of 2005. She came to me from Dr. Steve England and his bride Pam a couple of months after my beloved Betsy left us.

Abby was never a people person dog and she made it perfectly clear that you were never to enter my personal space… like my office or front door. In my nearly 12 years with her, she never bit anyone, but she let you know she would and could if she chose.

Abby was an activist. She had her own Gmail account and often commented on the issue of the day. She was particularly interested in ranching, private property rights and the ability to use federal and state trust lands.

Abby, suffering from liver cancer, left us peacefully on February 17, 2019 at Red Doc Farm near Belen, where she lays at rest. Bullet is very sad and misses her terribly. If all goes as planned, he will be joined by an Auggie baby sister in late March.      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, March 2018

Feb 02 2019

Cowboys & Flags

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

Spending a month or two in Santa Fe during the Legislature can be challenging. You are away from home and around a lot more people than you usually are. You miss your own bed and your dogs. You are expected to be nice ALL the time. After some 28 years, I am allowing myself to fall off that wagon.

We attended a reception the first week of the Session. In the style we all believe in, the formal part of evening started with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. As I proudly looked around the room at all the hats, cowboy and others, that were removed for the opening.

My mood and my view was spoiled by a lone cowboy hat that still sat atop the head of a guy who was saluting rather than holding his hand over his heart. I guess I am beginning to understand all of Grandmother’s rules better and this behavior went all over me.

I asked around and learned the guy is a would-be congressman in New Mexico’s second district. I thought if the guy wanted to be elected in a district full of cattlemen, ranchers and bona fide cowboy hat wearers, he might appreciate knowing how far out of line he was keeping his hat on inappropriately.

Imagine my surprise when he told me he would be breaking the law if he took the hat off as a show of respect for the American Flag. He said there had been a new law passed that required veterans to keep their head cover on and to salute during the Pledge or the Anthem. I asked him to show me the law and he started fiddling with his phone.

He told me that flag etiquette had changed several years ago and that is was hard to be an early adopter of new things. I reiterated that his behavior would not garner him votes especially in the rural areas. I wasn’t fast enough to think to ask him if he ever drove over the speed limit.

The whole episode got me thinking about the things many people don’t know about cowboy hats and veterans requirements … including me. Here’s some information I found. Some of it is preaching to the choir and I apologize for that in advance, but tune ups are never a bad thing.

A Guide to Cowboy Hat Etiquette

Bernard Hats has a website that is full of information on cowboy hats. They say that while the cowboy hat is one of the most beloved items of western wear, there’s more to buying and wearing cowboy hats than just putting it on your head.

The first Rule that is indisputable and critical, is DO NOT mess with a cowboy’s hat.  A cowboy hat is a very personal, and sometimes very expensive item that you don’t pass around. In some places, to touch a man’s hat without permission will get you hog tied to a tree so you just don’t do it.

Some standard, base-line points of etiquette:

  • Any time you enter a building, the hat should come off.
  • If it is an informal occasion you may put it back on but for a formal occasion it should stay off.
  • When sitting down at a table for a meal, the hat should come off unless there is nowhere to safely lay the hat.
  • When sitting down at a counter for a meal, the hat can stay on.
  • Out on the range however, keep your hat on while you eat. If you take your hat off, another wrangler might step on it or spill food on it.

Originally felt hats were intended for winter wear (protecting from moisture and cold) and straw for summer (protecting from heat and sun) which is logical.  An arbitrary fashion rule is supposedly that felt is worn between Labor Day and Memorial Day, and straw in between. The reality is that both are seen at either time of year depending on the weather at the time of wearing. If it’s super-hot, maybe a straw would be better than a black felt hat. If it’s a cold night, a straw might be too chilly on the head and felt would be a more comfortable choice. Then again, if it’s a formal event, I probably wouldn’t wear a straw no matter what. Let common sense be your guide.

When to remove your cowboy hat

During the National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, the Passing of the Flag, In Church, during a Prayer, an indoor Wedding, a Funeral (indoors) or at the “passing” of a casket in a funeral procession. Hold your hat in the left hand with your right hand over your heart. You may also hold your hat in your right hand, followed by holding your hat over your heart. Either way is acceptable.

When you are introduced to a woman. If warranted, remove your hat (by the crown) with your left hand so that you may shake her hand with your right.

This should also apply to anyone who is your Elder or a “Man of the Cloth”. In other words, the Clergy, Pastor, Priest, and so on.

When you begin a conversation with anyone; but not needed if your just saying “hello” as you pass them.

It is generally considered, to always remove your hat while in a private home.

* Unless others are wearing their hat/s. It is then considered to be at the blessing of your host or hostess.

Always remove your hat by the crown.

*Some people do use their brim, but the brim must be strong. Do not use the edge of the brim. Removing the hat by the crown is the most customary.

If you need to adjust your hat, do so by the crown.

Never lay a cowboy hat down on the brim. Place your hat on it’s crown, brim up.

Your hat should always be removed while dining in a restaurant.

*Unless, you’re in fast food restaurant.

Take your cowboy hat off when you’re indoors.

Another key to being a proper cowboy is to remove your hat when you go inside. Elevators, lobbies, and building corridors are an exception to this rule, but once you’re in a room with other folks you should remove your hat, especially if there’s a lady present.

Never mess with another cowboy’s hat.

A cowboy’s hat is very personal property, so leave ‘em be unless you want trouble.

Rules for Saluting US Flag has a wealth of information on veterans and head cover when addressing the flag. Traditionally, members of the nation’s veterans service organizations have rendered the hand-salute during the national anthem and at events involving the national flag only while wearing their organization’s official head-gear.

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 contained an amendment to allow un-uniformed service members, military retirees, and veterans to render a hand salute during the hoisting, lowering, or passing of the U.S. flag.

A later amendment further authorized hand-salutes during the national anthem by veterans and out-of-uniform military personnel. This was included in the Defense Authorization Act of 2009, which President Bush signed on Oct. 14, 2008.

Here is the actual text from the law:


Section 301(b)(1) of title 36, United States Code, is amended by striking subparagraphs (A) through (C) and inserting the following new subparagraphs: “(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note; “(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and “(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart;….

U.S. Flag Code says the rules for handling and displaying the U.S. Flag are defined by a law known as the U.S. Flag Code. They excerpted the federal regulations here without any changes:

The following is the text of section 4 in United States Code Title 4 Chapter 1.

§4. Pledge of allegiance to the flag; manner of delivery

The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.

So there you have it, Mr. Candidate, get that hat off when it is appropriate.


We are three weeks into the eight-week 2019 Legislature and things are going pretty well. We were able to get the Beef Council bill to add a voluntary dollar to the state checkoff off to the Governor’s desk.

The Legislature and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham instituted a “rocket docket” for this Session. Bills that had passed unanimously or with little opposition during the last two Legislatures were pre-filed and put on a fast track to the 4th floor. We knew that the Beef Council bill fit that category so Senator Pat Woods got high behind and got the bill on the docket. Hopefully by the time you read this, the Governor will have signed it.

Before I say anything else, our Bill Readers deserve a great big thanks! They started working on pre-filed bills in December and the bills just keep coming. At press time there were right at 1,000 bills, memorials and resolutions filed. New bills must be filed by February 14, but memorials may be filed throughout the Session.

Additionally there will be over 100 “dummy” bills numbered. Leadership and committee chairs have the opportunity to continue to introduce legislation using these bills. The bills never get titles and often you have to chase the actual text down in the Capitol. At this time it appears that we could get to over 3,000 bills, but 6,000 looks less likely.

Another win the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association has under their belt is the amendment to HB 204, the Healthy Soils Act. The Association is not against healthy soils or even funding for more soils projects and/or to match with federal funds that are available.

The objections include the creation of more bureaucracy which would drain money off from the ground work, the number of groups eligible to receive monies available, the repeated use of the words “organic matter and carbon” (carbon is organic matter), and where the requested funds are going to go.

On the carbon issue, we were told outside a committee room that our cows are the reason that carbon is an issue and that eventually all of our cows will freeze to death. We and cows are the reason for the recent polar vortex (aka cold front) that recently hit the middle and Eastern part of the United States.

The amendment that got the bill out of its first committee took away the new bureaucracy as well as the list of groups eligible for the funding. All of these groups will still be able to access funds, but they will need to do it in cooperation with Soil Conservation Districts.

You may not know that due to all the budget cuts the state has seen over the past several years, the Soils Lab at New Mexico State University (NMSU) has been shuttered. It makes sense that if we are going to do more soils work, there should be a lab in the state to do the research and testing. Presently soils are being shipped to Colorado or Texas for the needed work.

The cost of restarting the Soils Lab is about $3.5 million. The bricks and mortar are still there, but the lab must be refurbished and new equipment and staff added for the microbial testing envisioned in HB 204. Additionally there will need to be recurring funds to maintain staffing and for supplied.

We will continue to work on this bill so it can be supported by all. Its next stops are the House Ag & Water Committee and then House Appropriations & Finance. It will have to be passed on the House Floor before beginning a similar journey on the Senate side.

There are at least three horse bills now introduced along with stopping animal killing contests, stopping trapping, some scary tax bills and plenty of water bills. We ask you to consider donating just one day to come to Santa Fe to help us work on all these issues and more. It is a small price to pay for protecting your family and your livelihood.      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, February 2018

Multimin Health

Original Environmentalist