Sep 30 2017

Loss of a true friend …

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

Pete Domenici was a friend to New Mexico ranchers, farmers and countless others. Even more, he was a friend to me.

Most of you have never been to my office or will likely ever have a need to. But if you were here, you would find the room filled (maybe overfilled) with files and piles, boxes and books. The walls are pretty much covered with photos and other mementos. There is a brand throw from the CowBelles over the chair that doesn’t have a box in it and Mattie Cowan’s Cowbelle dress that was made for parades and other events somewhere between 1939 when The Cowbelles was founded and 1941 when we have the first photos of her in it. And, yes the 18” emasculators still sit on the desk, sometimes covered by paper, but ready when needed for emphasis.

There are eight photos on the walls; six of them have Pete Domenici in them. Five are from various trips to Washington, D.C. over the past 20 years. There was a Wool Growers trip; a in 2002 when several ranchers from northern New Mexico joined Mike Casabonne and me on trip back to demand that the Carson and Santa Fe National Forests be reopened to grazing after an arbitrary and capricious decision attempted to remove all grazing from those forests. (They were.) There is one when we gathered up John and Frank Falen, from Nevada and Wyoming respectively, to navigate Capitol Hill with us. Senator Domenici always called a photographer into his office at the end of a meeting.

There is the last one where the Cattle Growers, the Wool Growers, and the Federal Lands Council gave the Senator a silver-belly hat for his ride into retirement and the future. That picture is especially special because it contains past Wool Growers President Ron Merritt Jr., our dear departed Mary Skeen, then Cattle Growers’ President Alisa Ogden and then Federal Lands Council President Mike Casabonne along with the Senator and his winning smile.

The sixth one is the biggest and has an even longer story behind it. In 1996, after the demise of the Wool Act meant there were no longer funds for the Wool Growers to keep me, I went home to Arizona and ran for the Cochise County Board of Supervisors. Bob Dole and I shared a crying towel the night of that election.

My only nephew, R. W. (Dub), was five years old at the time. He spent his summer helping me with signs, handing out fliers at gatherings and riding in parades to help Auntie get elected. For his troubles he was reprimanded in his kindergarten class on Election Day for jumping up and saying “Vote for Auntie!” when the teacher brought up the subject up.

The day after the election in the winding down process, I was at my sister’s house for dinner. Dub and I were at odds over the television controls. He had had enough of news programs and adult stuff to last him a lifetime. As he was surfing channels he flipped by one where Senator Domenici was being interviewed on the outcome of the election. I asked Dub to go back to that channel because Auntie’s friend was on it. He grumbled “not your friend” as he grudgingly went back to the channel.

After I moved back to New Mexico and went to work for Cattle Growers in mid 1997, one of the first opportunities I had for an important meeting was one with Senator Domenici. His staff wanted to meet at the Cattle Growers just to get him out of his office.

The NMCGA Board Room is a perfect place for all kinds of meetings. One wall is covered entirely with pictures of past presidents back to 1914. I can sit with that wall to my back feeling all the power of those men brought to bear in New Mexico for then nearly a century behind me. I would imagine that the sight might be just a little intimidating. It certainly gives me confidence.

When the meeting finished, I ask the Senator if he had just a moment for a picture of just he and me so I could send it to Dub to prove that Pete Domenici was indeed my friend. He kindly obliged with that wonderful smile. While the photo was being taken, he whispered in my ear that he WAS my friend.

Chuck Stocks, then publisher of the Stockman, was kind enough to take the photo. He then surprised me later with the one and only New Mexico Stockman Hero Award complete with a large, beautifully framed photo of the Senator and I that has held a prominent place in my office ever since.

When we met the Senator in Roswell maybe a decade later, I reminded him of that day. He replied, “And you are still my friend.”

Where’s the Fairness?

Every day I get tons of emails with people demanding their own way despite impacts on others. I can no longer go to a Ringling Brothers Circus because of groups like the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) or the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and their ilk. Portland, Maine (near where Michelle lives) and many other cities are taking up ordinances to prohibit the display of wild animals in any circus.

Ordinances are in place or on the way to outlaw the sale of pets from pet stores. However, it IS okay to get a pet from a “rescue” even if they are in a storefront or shopping mall — and don’t be surprised if there are “fees” with you obtaining a rescue animal.

HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle admits, “I don’t have a hands-on fondness for animals. I did not grow up bonded to any particular nonhuman animal.” Pacelle claims, “If I had my personal view, perhaps that might take hold. In fact, I don’t want to see another dog or cat born.”

So the rest of the world is supposed to give up pets?

In Washington state a “habitat conservation plan” for a supposedly endangered pocket gopher has been proposed that would require anyone wanting to build a house on an acre of land, to purchase an acre of “mitigation.” Current price per acre of mitigation is $17,803 and the county is looking at a 30-year plan requiring them to purchase 120 acres per year (roughly 120 credits) to stay on track with projected growth. The 30-year cost would be $64 million.

With the absurdity all of this in mind, I have a demand of my own. I demand a change in the National Football League (NFL) — it is only fair that I get what I want or need no matter the cost or impact to anyone else, right?

There are 32 professional football teams organized into two leagues under the NFL — I figured out in college that if you wanted to find conversation with almost any guy, including my father, all you had to do was bring up football. I developed at least a working knowledge of the sport and key players.

Back to the 32 teams, it is clear that one cannot be assigned to each of the 50 states under the current scheme of things. There needs to be an expansion of 18 more teams. It doesn’t really matter that many states don’t have the population to support a team. Make folks travel to games everywhere.

Expansion could take awhile. Additionally at least one faith finds football to be a tool of the devil because it is on television on Sunday afternoon and Monday night interfering with religious activities. I haven’t checked the stance on the Thursday and Friday night games since the television expansion.

In the short term however, one only needs to look at the distribution of current NFL teams to see that there is an equity problem. California has FOUR teams while Florida has three teams. Texas, Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania each have two. On the face of it, New Jersey has two. But New Jersey is deceiving. Both of those teams are named New York … And there are the Buffalo Bills, so really New York has three teams and New Jersey has none.

Seven states have over half of the NFL teams in the country — a total of 18. Where is the fairness in that?

Like most things, it is the 11 Western states that get the shortest end of the stick. Seven of the 11 states are NFL team-less. These are some of the least populated states in the nation and among those who suffer the most from forest fires.

Keep in mind that each of these teams is a HUGE economic generator. Stadiums, domes and other venues with seating in the tens of thousands sell out weekly. If you only get a $100 ticket, and most tickets cost much more even into the thousands, the smallest stadium brings in well over $5 million in ticket sales alone. The largest brings in more than $9 million.

That’s before you buy any food, beverage or jerseys. The average cost of a small draft beer is $7.42, with highs going to nearly $10. Some have a small, small draft for $5.

But the real money comes from television contracts. The single most popular team in the states without their own NFL team is the Denver Broncos hands down. The highest earning team with an income of $700 million is the Dallas Cowboys.

But the money goes out the door pretty fast too. The effect salary for an NFL quarterback is between $9 and $12 million a year, with the highest paid guy getting $27,000,000. This is a contract that was signed in very recently, so it probably throws off the numbers mentioned above.

Highly skilled non quarterback players earn around $16 million a year. Rookies can expect around $365,000 for their first year. The overall average salary per player is $1.9 million a year. All those salaries don’t count endorsement or commercial deals that could add millions to their income.

Can you imagine how much money a 53-member team roster would bring into New Mexico? Then you add in the coaches. Head coach salaries range from $3.5 million to $8 million based on the information that is available.

There are countless employees to maintain a stadium regularly and to host home games. Even a minimum wage of $10 an hour would help New Mexico families more than most could fathom.

It is the cheerleaders who get the short end of the stick everywhere. NFL cheerleaders make from $9 to $15 an hour for the elite (head), while the amateurs make $9 per hour. Several teams have recently determined that they would pay their cheerleaders whatever the minimum wage is for the state they are in.

A boost in visitors to New Mexico and the dollars they spend on housing and food would also be a big benefit. We have heard for years that tourism is the future economy of New Mexico. The problem with the theory for me is how much trouble you would get in for eating a tourist when you get hungry.

So, how would we divide those NFL teams up to get one per state until the league can expand to 48 teams? I am not sure that we can mandate teams for Alaska or Hawaii at this point.

Here’s my plan: California moves three of their teams to the nearby states of Idaho, Nevada and Oregon. It is way too confusing to have three teams named “LA something” anyway. Texas should give New Mexico one. The Cowboys makes the most sense because it would seem silly to have the New Mexico Texans.

Utah should get a team from Florida, probably the Dolphins, because the name wouldn’t have to change from Jacksonville or Tampa. And, Utah has taken a pro basketball team from the Southeast with some success. Montana and Wyoming could setup a task force or working group to determine if they wanted a New York, Florida or Ohio team.

That would take care of the West. Georgia should get a Florida team and Maine should get a New York/New Jersey team. Any states left over not getting a team should go into a lottery to determine which of the remaining teams they would get. Sadly, there will still be 18 states without a team.

Honestly, after working this through, I think I could take just about any government organizer job and be a hit.

To the popular media…

Get a grip — are you going to cover DACA or the First Lady’s Shoes?      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, October 2017 
Aug 30 2017

As good a time as any …

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

The afternoon after a New Mexico State Game Commission meeting with the topic of wolves and antelope (two separate items) may not be the best time to start this column, but it may be as good a time as any.

The wolf issue seems to be one that will plague me for the rest of my life. The Commission’s discussion at their August meeting was about the draft recovery plan and the need to submit comments. By a vote of six to one, the Commission decided to support the plan, with significant comments on the need for changes in the plan.

Stop! Before you throw this magazine, there is some rationale to the thinking of the six who voted for the position. We have all believed that a recovery plan is a necessity. Without a plan no one knows what recovery means and there is no chance for a delisting in our lifetimes or after.

We got one — be careful what you wish for.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) is under a court order to produce a plan before the end of 2017 so this plan or some version close to it is going to be presented the 9th District Count in Tucson and published as final in the very near future. If anyone wants to be involved in litigation on the plan in the future, they must comment on the plan to have standing in the courts.

Among the comments the Commission wants to submit is the need to have wolf recovery in the US separated from recovery in Mexico. There may be a fat chance of that happening, but the Commission is on the right track.

So, I can probably get over the Commission’s actions.

What burns my mind (and other places) is having to sit through the public comments period. The day could have been worse. The room was not filled with wolf-lovers and there weren’t many fireworks, but the disconnect from reality in those folks never ceases to amaze me.

There was the requisite representative from the Defenders of Wildlife, a new guy apparently from Montana. He extolled the virtues of wolves in Montana and how well the program was working there with ranchers. I had two thoughts for that — Dorothy, you aren’t in Montana anymore, and how many Montana ranchers have you talked with?

He went well beyond his allotted three minutes extolling the virtues of the wonder depredation payments that ranchers have been and are getting — there is just isn’t a problem, he says.

Then there was the bouncy lady who just loved everything. She wanted to know why we all just couldn’t come to the table and work together. Well, fair lady, you need to be talking to the FWS. They are the folks who make plans — like this current recovery plan — in a vacuum. For more than 25 years they have completely ignored the people who provide the habitat for wildlife and are forced to live with the consequences of their “experiment.”

She went on to say that she had raccoons in her yard all the time that ate up all of her dog food. Nobody compensated her for that loss and she didn’t see why anyone should be compensated for wolf losses. I have a novel idea for her… pick up your dog food after you feed your dogs. Lots of things eat dog food beyond raccoons — like rats, mice, ants and lots more.

And, there was the lady that thought the Commission had come to a great compromise because nobody is happy with the draft recovery plan. Thus my word of the month is “compromise.” The definition of a compromise is “a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an Agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands.” (Emphasis added)

Does that sound like anything we have seen, heard or been subjected to in the last 25 years?

Perhaps the most disturbing was a comment made by the New Mexico Game & Fish Department (NMDGF) biologist in response to the questions from a Commissioner on the impact of wolves on ranchers and their families. The response was
that social tolerance was an issue.
Social Tolerance?! I guess there is no reason I should be surprised. Federal and state agencies look down on us all the time. But to be so blatantly dismissed as a mere “social consequence” gave me a severe headache.

When society makes a decision…

We have long been told that “society has decided that the nation needs wolves.” I keep asking when there was a vote — I don’t know anyone who voted on this issue. But, that’s beside the point.

Everyone wants to make a decision —they just don’t want to responsible for it OR for it to impact them in any way. Our political processes have become so convoluted that foreigners are helping make environmental decisions in the United States.

I am not talking about the people illegally in the country. There are little old ladies in Paris, France apartments participating in decision making that impacts us every day. One federal agency recently reported that on one environmental issue here in New Mexico there were some 20,000 comments submitted. Well under 10 percent of those were from New Mexico and there was a substantial percentage of foreign comments.

My favorite example of the problem with the way society takes care of things is, if you have a choice, would you rather use a public restroom or a private one? If it belongs to the ‘public’ you can bet that nobody is in charge of cleaning and maintenance. I will admit that my father wasn’t impressed when I used this analogy about public schools. He served on the Tombstone School Board for 36 years. 


The NMDGF has come to the conclusion that their A+ antelope hunting system isn’t working. The primary problem is that there are large amounts of land that aren’t being hunted because ranchers are not participating in the program.

Many of those receiving tags based on their acreage find that the number of tags they receive are not commensurate with the number of antelope that populate their property. Additionally, tags are issued on a one-size-fits-all acreage basis. If you don’t have a base amount of acreage, you are not eligible to participate in the program. There are some 256 ranches that would like to participate in the program but don’t qualify.

Then there are big ranches that are getting large numbers of antelope tags that don’t use them. It is clear that the acreage system doesn’t work. Thus, the NMDGF has proposed that the system be scrapped in favor of an over-the-counter system. This proposal hasn’t drawn much support from the landowner community or the outfitting and guiding community.

One long-time outfitter told the NMDGF, after praising them a bit, that “this was the dumbest idea anyone ever had.”

For those with checker-board ranches, there would be absolutely no way to control hunting on their property. These are the folks who have cooperated with the NMDGF that will be thrown to the wolves — not literally… yet.

The proposal would add hunts and contemplates changing hunt days from three to five. That seems to be a none-starter for everyone. The biologist reported that 85 percent of antelope hunters are successful and that success comes in an average of 1.8 hunting days.

When asked by a Commissioner why the additional days were even considered in the face of this data, the answer was that there had been requests for more hunting days so that hunters could just enjoy the land even after that they had bagged their antelope.

The new hunts would allow hunting from mid-August until November. In the initial propose there was no consideration of the fact that that is exactly the time that ranchers get their payday — fall works. Most people get two paychecks a month, along with insurance and maybe even retirement account. Those raising livestock get one payday a year.

In an effort to spread hunters out, antelope hunt codes will go from 60 to 150 or more. The outfitters present weren’t thrilled with that either.

There are many other nuances in the proposal, so the short story is, if you have antelope on your ranch, you will want to study the plan. It will be months before the Commission even thinks about making a decision.

That time could be beneficially used to work with the Department on a plan that works better than the current A+, but doesn’t pull the wheels off. For example, could the A+ system be approached without acreage baseline? Could tags from large ranches that are not using them be assigned to neighboring ranchers who do want to use them? There is probably much more that could be included.


One huge concern with the new antelope proposal is trespass. The issue of trespass is one that is out of hand according to landowners throughout New Mexico. Compounding the problem is that it appears that relationships between landowners and conservation officers on the ground are non-existent. NMDFG leadership and the Commission has been made aware of the problem and efforts are underway to find solutions.

However, at the August Commission meeting, one Commissioner had little sympathy for landowners. It is his position that if landowners don’t legally post their property, they have no right to complain.

I am sure he has looked at the current trespass statue and is well aware of the onerous posting requirements that are impossible to comply with because hunters and others tear down and/or shoot up posting signs, along with tanks, windmills and even livestock.     

The primary reason that landowners have been told by conservation officers that either trespass is a county sheriff’s issue or that the legal system won’t prosecute offenders.

Whatever the problem is, you might consider reposting your property as hunting seasons begin and see if you can get to know your conservation officer.

It’s Back…

Last year the Obama Administration proposed overtime rules that could create seriously adverse impacts on most employers. Although it was believed that production agriculture would be exempted, those not engaged in ag production would be hit hard.

Although the rule was put on hold in November, it is not dead. Currently, the U.S. Department of Labor is seeking additional information and public comment on the proposed regulations. As a refresher, the proposed regulation would increase an exempt employee’s minimum salary to $47,476.

The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association will be providing information on where and how to submit comments by the September 17, 2017 deadline.

Additionally, there are two bills in Congress which would require the Labor Department to conduct a new and comprehensive analysis on the impact of overtime expansion to small businesses. The measures are “Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act” (S. 2707 and H.R. 4773).

Joint Stockmen’s Convention

Time flies when you are having fun and the 2017 Joint Stockmen’s Convention is just around the corner. The convention will be back at the Crown Plaza in Albuquerque November 30 through December 3. The convention block of rooms is open at the hotel at the NMCGA room rate of $81 and there are rooms available at the Fairfield next door at the rate of $65.

Sponsorships are available and the trade show is filling up. The trade show space is offered to last year’s exhibitors first. Any space left over will become available on a first-come-first-serve basis after September 15.

Please plan on coming!!!          

Source: New Mexico Stockman, September 2017 
Aug 07 2017

It was only a matter of time …

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

We have long been told that it is unethical and cruel to produce livestock by animal rights groups. Hunting is under fire (no pun intended). Circuses are being banned from cities and closing. Zoos are now becoming a focus of folks who don’t think wild animals should be kept in captivity.

There is now a push to eliminate pet ownership because we think of pets as people and therefore, we shouldn’t own them. According to Great Britain’s The Guardian, in a story by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie, 90 percent of Brits think of their pets as members of the family — 16 percent of them even included them on the country’s last census. But recent research into animals’ emotional lives casts doubt on the ethics of pet-keeping.

Bioethicist Dr. Jessica Pierce, because of a Tupperware tub of live baby rats at her local PetSmart — she was at the store buying crickets for her daughter’s gecko — became concerned because she believed that the animals were being sold to the store for sale as pets or food for snakes. The incident caused her to re-think the whole question of pet ownership.

Pierce, a Faculty Affiliate, Center for Bioethics and Humanities, University of Colorado Denver, Anchutz Medical Campus, went on to write Run, Spot, Run published in 2015. The book outlines the case against pet ownership. “From the animals that become dog and cat food and the puppy farms churning out increasingly unhealthy purebred canines, to the goldfish sold by the bag and the crickets by the box, pet ownership is problematic because it denies animals the right of self-determination. Ultimately, we bring them into our lives because we want them, then we dictate what they eat, where they live, how they behave, how they look, even whether they get to keep their sex organs.”

It is worth noting that Dr. Pierce owns two dogs and a cat. Not sure if that gecko is still around.

”Treating animals as commodities isn’t new or shocking; humans have been meat-eaters and animal-skin-wearers for millennia. However, this is at odds with how we say we feel about our pets,” according to The Guardian. “The British pet industry is worth about £10.6bn; Americans spent more than $66 billon on their pets in 2016.”

That’s up from $60.59 billion in 2015 and $58.04 billion in 2014, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA. A survey this year found that many British pet owners love their pet more than they love their partner (12 percent), their children (9 percent) or their best friend (24 percent).

“It is morally problematic, because more people are thinking of pets as people … They consider them part of their family, they think of them as their best friend, they wouldn’t sell them for a million dollars,” says Dr. Hal Herzog, a professor of psychology at Western Carolina University and one of the founders of the budding field of anthrozoology, which examines human-animal relations. At the same time, research is revealing that the emotional lives of animals, even relatively “simple” animals such as goldfish, are far more complex and rich than we once thought (“dogs are people, too”, according to a 2013 New York Times comment piece by the neuroscientist Gregory Berns). “The logical consequence is that the more we attribute them with these characteristics, the less right we have to control every single aspect of their lives,” says Herzog.

For a book that was published in 2010, Herzog studied the motivations of animal rights activists and whether it was emotion or intellect that pushed them towards activism. One of the subjects, Herzog says, was “very, very logical”.

The subject, after he had become a vegan, eschewed leather shoes and convinced his girlfriend to go vegan, considered his pet cockatiel. “I remember; he looked up wistfully. He said he got the bird, took it outside, let it loose and it flew up,” Herzog recalls. “He said: ‘I knew she wouldn’t survive, that she probably starved. I guess I was doing it more for myself than for her.’”

The Guardian points out that several countries have moved to change the legal status of animals. In 2015, the government of New Zealand recognized animals as sentient beings, in effect declaring them no longer property (how this squares with New Zealand’s recent “war on possums” is unclear), as did the Canadian province of Quebec. While pets remain property in the UK, the Animal Welfare Act of 2006 stipulates that pet owners must provide a basic level of care for their animals. Pets are also property in the US, but 32 states, as well as Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, now include provisions for pets under domestic violence protection orders. In 2001, Rhode Island changed its legislation to describe pet owners as “guardians”, a move that some animal rights’ advocates lauded (and others criticized for being nothing more than a change in name).

The article also points out some other astounding facts: 1.5 million shelter animals – including 670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats – are euthanized each year in the US. This really doesn’t square the fact that dog-trafficking, both legal and illegal, is happening between states and from foreign countries.

On the wild/feral horse front…

While Congress is considering giving federal agencies the power to dispose of these horses, the courts are taking a dim view of anything already in place to provide relief for the horses by land stewards.

A Utah federal district court judge recently ruled against ranchers demanding that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) remove excess horses. Judge Jill Parrish said “Once the BLM determines that an over-population in fact exists in a given area, the agency has wide discretion in how it addresses that overpopulation. The BLM may address the identified over-population through removal or through other methods it deems more suitable.”

In a separate action the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has delivered a victory to wild horse enthusiasts, ordering the U.S. Forest Service to restore 23,000 acres of critical land as protected horse country in California — and showed judges taking an increasingly dim view of agencies’ decision-making.

The government had said the land was added by “administrative error” in the 1980s, and tried to erase it from the boundaries of the protected wild horse territory, but the said decades of history of protection can’t be tossed out so easily. Judges ordered the Forest Service to go back and redo the decision, considering what impact the erasure would have on the horse population.

Southern Poverty Law Center
now after Christians.

The left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center, which has been in the spotlight recently for its practice of designating conservative non-profits as “hate groups,” has gone on defense, according to a story by Bob UNRUH on

Richard Cohen, the president of SPLC, which has been linked to a domestic terror attack, wrote in a Huffington Post commentary that Christians deserve the designation because they “sow the seeds of hate.”

The Family Research Council, wrote Cohen, has a “long track record of using dehumanizing language and outright lies to portray LGBT people as sick, evil, and a danger to children and society. As stated on its website, it opposes the acceptance of homosexuality ‘in the law, in the media, and in the schools.’”

He also renewed his group’s attacks on the conservative Center for Immigration Studies. “It’s a group whose immigration agenda is colored by ethnic bias,” he claimed.

SPLC’s defense of its activities comes on the heels of a lawsuit against the charity-monitoring organization GuideStar over its use of SPLC’s “hate” designations.

SPLC sits in judgment of Christians and others, labeling as “haters” those who disagree with its pro-homosexual and open- borders agendas. In fact, SPLC put Dr. Ben Carson in that category before facing a backlash and abruptly backtracking.

It has been documented that some of the groups targeted by SPLC now are unleashing a public counteroffensive, accusing the organization of “fueling hate, killing free speech and even encouraging terrorist-style attacks on those it doesn’t agree with.”

Once a group dedicated to fighting actual hate groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center has now turned to slandering and demonizing Christian and conservative organizations, labeling them “hate groups.” These groups are placed in the same category as the KKK on the SLPC’s “hate map” for merely upholding traditional standards of marriage and sexual morality.

The SPLC has enlisted in the culture wars on the side of the radical Left, and raised a huge amount of money from misled followers in doing so. Their false designations and demonization of Christians and conservatives has even led to violence.

There is time left to comment on the draft Mexican wolf recovery plan… Get ‘er done!

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has set a deadline of August 29, 2017 for comments on the draft Mexican wolf recovery plan. We need YOU and everyone you know to comment PLEASE!

The flaws of the plan are many but here’s a short list if you need help with your comments:

The primary hurdle to recovery, according to this plan is genetic diversity. When the recovery was initiated with less than 10 wolves capped by McBride, what was expected to happen in breeding and cross breeding this minute gene pool? The only way to add genetic diversity is to cross-breed with other gene pools. Since there are no other canis lupus baileyi gene pools, what is going to be cross bred to this gene pool that won’t result in an animal that is no longer a Mexican wolf? Anyone with animal husbandry knowledge knows that the recovery program was doomed to failure because of the lack of a gene pool.

While “down-listing” is contemplated in the draft, never is the word “delisting” used. The call estimates “recovery” in the 25 to 35 years. “Recovery” and “delisting” are not synonymous. Will delisting ever take place?

Recovery is predicated on the “full” cooperation of a foreign county which is impossible to predict especially over 35 years. It cannot be predicted for a single year.

Cost of recovery is estimated at $262,575,000 which works out to $820,547.88 PER WOLF at a “recovered” population of 320 wolves.

The 1982 Recovery Plan determined that there was a lack of suitable habitat at the time for full recovery. What has enhanced the habitat since 1982? Today there are more people, more roads, more cars, and more communities than could have even been imagined in 1982.

The 1982 Recovery Plan found that vast majority of the canis lupus baileyi, species of wolf being recovered, was in Mexico, with only small areas of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas falling into the historical range. Why is the habitat of the canis lupus monstrabilis and the canis lupus mogollonesis now considered beneficial for the canis lupus baileyi?

The draft recovery plan is written in language that is nearly impossible for the layman to decipher.

There is a profound lack of science in the draft recovery plan.

Joint Stockmen’s is Coming!!!

Mark your calendars for November 30 to December 3 for the 2017 Joint Stockmen’s Convention at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Albuquerque. We are now taking sponsorships and trade show booth requests and the room block is open.’

Looking forward to seeing you there!      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, August 2017 
Jul 19 2017


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

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Dealing with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has gone well past being insane. For more than a quarter of a century, ranchers have been attending meetings on the Mexican wolf program held by the agency only to be verbally abused, physically threatened and completely ignored.

For that reason the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, the New Mexico Wool Growers, Inc. and the New Mexico Federal Lands Council are advising their members not to waste the time and resources to attend these meetings.

However it is crucial that EVERYONE and their brother send in comments by August 29, 2017. The FWS has predetermined that there will be no extension of the comment period. The NMCGA and others are working on detailed comments which will be available via email and on the website at .

There are some tidbits that are just too good not to share now. Mexican wolf “recovery” is predicated on a wolf number of 320 with a specific genetic make up to be maintained for eight years. And, more outrageous is the fact that 170 of those wolves must survive in Mexico, where the U.S. federal government has no influence or control at all.

The draft recovery plan states that wolves have been released in Mexico since 2011 and that as of April 2017 there are only 28 wolves known alive. It is worth remembering that the FWS has been releasing wolves in New Mexico and Arizona for nearly 20 years and there are currently only 113 animals reported by the agency. Those who live and work on the land believe there are many more out there; they just don’t have collars on.

According to the draft recovery plan, models predict that down-listing could occur in as little as 16 to 20 years. It will likely be 25 to 35 years before “recovery.” The document also states that the cost of this “recovery” is a projected cost of $262,575,000. These time frames are based on expectation of full funding, implementation as provided for in the plan and implementation strategy, and full cooperation of bi-national partners.

The plan also states that when the 1982 recovery plan was created ”…the recovery team could not foresee full recovery… due… their assessment of a lack of suitable habitat within historical range due to human activities.” If there wasn’t enough habitat in 1982, just how many people have moved into the region in the last 35 years? How many roads have been built? How many hundreds of thousands of acres have burned?

Then there are the “threats to the Mexican wolf.” Threats to a species are the determinations the FWS uses to decide if a species is threatened or endangered. There are five factors in the Endangered Species Act (ESA):

The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;

Over utilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;

Disease or predation;

The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms;

Other natural or manmade factors affecting survival.

The FWS recently assessed threats to the Mexican wolf and determined that the Mexican wolf was in danger of extinction due to illegal shooting, genetic issues (inbreeding, loss of heterozygosity (…) and loss of adaptive potential), and small population size. More recently, the FWS described four stressors (conditions that may influence the current and ongoing recovery of Mexico wolf) in the draft Biological Report for the Mexican wolf:

Adequate habitat availability/ suitability;

Excessive human-caused mortality;

Demographic stochasticity associated with small population size;

Continuing or accelerated loss of genetic diversity associated in the captive or wild populations

Stressors and threats are highly related concepts, but not be one in the same. For example, for the Mexican wolf, habitat destruction, modification or curtailment is not threatening or endangering the Mexico wolf, yet ensuring adequate habitat is available to support recovered Mexican wolf population is central to the recovery effort for the Mexican wolf (e.g., a potential stressor).

It was tough enough retyping that section. Now I need help in determining exactly what is meant by it! This is just a taste of the 43-page document, which is actually small compared to recent wolf documents issued by the FWS.

To obtain a copy of the Mexican wolf draft recovery plan please visit:

Then it gets worse…

One of the issues that has plagued ranchers who have been forced to live with wolves is documenting wolf kills for the pittance of compensation that might be available. With calves the primary issue has been finding anything left of a carcass to make a determination on whether or not it was a wolf kill.

One NMCGA member recently thought he had the perfect documentation. A photo was taken of a wolf trotting through the pasture just off of a road with a calf’s head in his mouth.

Not so much. The kill was documented as a “probable” kill instead of a kill because the rest of the calf’s body couldn’t be located. My suggestion was that they necropsy the wolf to find the rest of the calf. Nobody thought that was funny.

Now the rancher has to prove the calf whose head was in the wolf’s mouth was alive when the wolf showed up. The photo doesn’t establish that.

Other lame excuses included that there was no proof of when the photo was taken and that calf could have been still-born. The call of a “probable” kill diminishes the compensation even further.

A message from the
Acting Director of the BLM

The President and Secretary of the Interior Zinke have asked the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to take a new, in-depth look into our land use planning and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes.  As someone who cares about the nation’s public lands, your input is vital to determining how the BLM will approach land use planning going forward.

Our goal is to identify inefficiencies and redundancies that should be eliminated from our land use planning and NEPA processes, while ensuring that we fulfill our legal and resource stewardship responsibilities. By doing this, we will be able to dedicate more time and resources to completing the important on-the-ground work on our public lands. 

Balanced stewardship of the public lands and resources is more important to the interests of the country and its people than ever before. This mission is also more complex and challenging than at any time in our history.  But with your input, we can strike that balance.

We are opening a 21-day period, beginning on July 3, 2017 and ending on July 24, 2017, in which you can submit your ideas specific to how we can make the BLM’s planning procedures and environmental reviews timelier and less costly, as well as responsive to local needs.  This streamlining effort will help shape how we move forward. You can submit your input by going to this link:

The decisions made in land use plans and after NEPA analyses are fundamental to how BLM public lands and resources are used for the benefit of all Americans.  We are committed to working cooperatively with state and local governments, communities, Indian tribes, and other stakeholders to determine the best ways to manage public lands for multiple uses and values, both now and in the future.

This effort is not required under any laws or regulations. We are doing this because we strongly believe that public input, especially at the local level, is an essential component of federal land management.

– Michael Nedd, Acting BLM Director

Other Moves On the
Washington, DC Front

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies marked up their FY 2018 appropriations bill, the first step in the appropriations process in mid July. Highlights of the that bill are as follows:

Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) – Funded at $275 million with state and local recreation and battlefield preservation programs prioritized

Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) – Funded at $465 million

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – Funded at $1.2 billion (a reduction of $46 million from FY 17 enacted levels)
     $20 million reduction in funding for land acquisition
     Level funding of $68 million for on the ground sage grouse conservation

National Park Service (NPS) – Funded at $2.9 billion (a reduction of $64 million from FY 17 enacted levels)
     $55 million targeted to park operations and maintenance to reduce the maintenance backlog

U.S. Forest Service (USFS) – Funded at $5.2 billion
     Nearly half ($2.5 billion) is targeted to wildland fire prevention and suppression.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) – Funded at $1.5 billion (a reduction of $38 million from FY 17 enacted levels) 
     Prioritizes funding to reduce the Endangered Species Act (ESA) backlog, refuge backlog, and to fight invasive species

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Funded at $7.5 billion (a reduction of $528 million from FY 17 enacted levels)

The bill continues language from previous years that prohibits the use of funds to write or issue a proposed rule for greater sage-grouse and/or the Columbia basin distinct population segment of greater sage-grouse

Wild Horses and Burros – The bill allows the Secretary of Interior to transfer excess wild horses or burros to other federal, state, and local government agencies for use as work animals and that horses and burros transferred to other agencies lose their status as a wild free-roaming horse or burro. Animals cannot be slaughtered for commercial purposes, and can only be euthanized under the recommendation of a licensed veterinarian in cases of injury or advanced age.

Gray wolves range-wide –  No funds may be used to treat any gray wolf in the lower 48 states as an endangered or threatened species. The bill also directed FWS to reissue the final rule to delist wolf populations in the Great Lakes and Wyoming within 60 days.

At the same time the US House Appropriations Committee marked up and vote on the Fiscal Year 2018 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. The passage of this bill for the past decade has included language that effectively outlaws horse slaughter in the United States by blocking funding for the USDA to pay inspectors for horse slaughter facilities, but today’s passage will go without that amendment.

These committees are just the first stop for appropriation measures. They will move to the House Floor & then move over to the Senate for passage. There will likely be conference committees between the House & the Senate before anything is final. These bills are to fund the fed. govt. for fiscal year 2018, which commences on 10/1/2017.      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, July 2017 
Jun 03 2017

Word of the Month: Anthropomorphic

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

It means ascribing human form or attributes to a being or thing not human. I have difficulty pronouncing the word and it is relatively recently added to my vocabulary.

It came back to top of mind when I was binge watching RIDE TV on a Sunday. The summer sports drought started when Baylor knocked the University of Arizona out of the NCAA Girls Softball Tournament, there isn’t always a Law & Order on and there are just so many home improvement shows you can sit through. The news is out of the question and… my mother was happy with RIDE.

A show came on about the EQUUS Film Festival, an event that has been held in New York City for the last three years to screen films about horses along with discussions about issues affecting the equine world. You can imagine what might go on. However, the folks who host the event seem to want some open discussion and education, even with their bias.

The event is held in November. In 2016 Protect the Harvest was a sponsor. The mere announcement that this group dedicated to protecting agriculture brought out such vile comments on Facebook and their website that cannot be repeated in polite company… or any company.

The issues covered in the 30-minute program included those we are all too familiar with — Walking Horses and “soring,” carriage horses in Central Park and “wild” horses. There was balance in the panels discussing these and probably other issues.

They were talking about the federal wild horses. I put wild in quotes to point out that there are many in New Mexico, at least, that misuse that term on a regular basis. That area was, of course, my biggest interest. The arguments for letting these animals “roam free” without management were ones that we have heard ad nauseam.

One of the arguments struck a stronger chord this time. There was one woman extremely concerned about breaking up ”families” of horses as if she thinks that a stud and a mare spend a life together with all of the foals they produce. That doesn’t even work in humans.

Don’t they realize that studs are hustlers – not monogamist? Studs run with bands of mares… that is called polygamy. Colts are weaned every year so the mare can feed the next one. The stud colts eventually move on to build their own band of mares because their sires won’t let them breed mares in the band. That’s how nature works. You don’t see families of bears wandering in family packs or even wolves for that matter. Once the young know how to hunt and care for themselves they are kicked out on their own.

And they don’t all get together for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Does thinking that animals are people allow people to act like animals?

It seems as though we may have finally found the bottom in the human civility and ridicule of our nation’s president. There have been several “celebrities” who have chosen to step what this writer considers to be WAY over the line with few consequences.

There is one red-headed “comedienne” who will not be spending her 2018 New Year’s Eve in the Big Apple waiting for the mirror ball to fall. She decided, along with the idiots who took and posted the photo, that it would be cute to pose with a mask of President Trump covered in blood as if she had ISIS-like severed his head. That was finally enough to outrage even the liberal media. The woman, she’s not a lady, has lost two jobs and one endorsement contract so far.

These people want to clamor about animal families seem to have no respect for human families. Whether you like President Trump or not, the man has a family including a young son and grandchildren. Don’t they deserve some respect and consideration?

On a more positive note…

The just concluded WALC (Women in Agriculture Leadership Conference) was one for the record books and the best ever according to the old timers! Over 200 women from across New Mexico and one from Arizona from ages from four months to 94 gathered in at the Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces. Between Wednesday evening and early afternoon on Thursday there were more than 17 speakers and presentations plus a bus tour and a separate track for young ladies aged 13 to 18. Then there was all the good food and fellowship.

The WALC is such a production that the decision was made several years ago to hold it every other year instead of annually. Of course, New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte soon decided to host the AgriFuture Conference in the off year.

Speakers ranged from Congressman Steve Pearce, Lt. Governor John Sanchez and four Ladies of the Legislature, to NMSU ACES Dean Rolando Flores to Reverend Jennifer Hopper (formerly the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau Ag in the Classroom program leaders) to country music sensation in Texas, New Mexico’s own Bri Bagwell. There was a bunch of great people in between.

Who else could manage 200 women and all of these great speakers but our own inspirational speaker and farm boy Matt Rush? He used to be a cabana boy but he went and got married on us. His lovely bride joined us too.

The 2017 Diamond in the Rough Award winner was USDA’s Kristin Graham Chavez and the charity was the USO. Between the donation from WALC, the donations in the Ladies Luck of the Draw, and a contribution from Farm Credit of New Mexico, the El Paso Airport USO took home over $5,000. The USO is critically import in the support of our troops and their families and is said to be the best investment for providing that support.

No More Bore Hole

We have received word that in late May the U.S. Department of Energy notified contractors that funding for bore hole project in Quay County, New Mexico has been withdrawn. We do not know if this applies to the project in Otero County as well, but are digging into that.

Great Scam

In my travels I come across some interesting… and bazaar things. I spent some time in the San Diego airport and found a whopper. There is a sign by the gift shop that says “Carbon Offset Your Flight.”

For only $2.00 you can purchase “offsets 1,000 miles of flying or 400 miles of driving / 344 lbs of CO2e. This is offered by The Good Traveler. You can visit their website and calculate what you should spend to offset any trip and pay it with a credit card online.

According to USA TODAY in a January article, if minimizing your environmental impact is on the agenda for 2017, several West Coast airports are eager to help you get started. Just donate a minimum of $2.00 and there’s no need to feel guilty about getting on a plane.

Austin Bergstrom International is the latest airport to join to the Good Traveler program, which encourages air travelers to purchase carbon offsets proportionate to the greenhouse gas produced by their flight and then choose which pro-environment project their funds support.

Through the program, $2 buys carbon offsets for 1,000 miles of flying and a handy distance calculator helps air travelers figure out how many offsets are needed to match the environmental impact of each flight.

Once offsets are purchased, a traveler can choose to have their funds go to reducing emissions from deforestation in the Congo and Zambia or towards projects in the United States that support a wind farm, a forestry project and Colorado Delta restoration efforts.

Austin Bergstrom International joins Seattle-Tacoma International and San Diego International Airport — the program creator — in drawing attention to the program by posting an icon on the front page of the airport website.

SAN airport first introduced the Good Traveler program in September 2015 and, according to the airport, the project has already offset about 11.5 million air miles.

Wish we could think of something like this to support ranchers!

Thank you!

Many of you saw the invitation to my Mother’s 80th Birthday Party. I am proud to report that it came off in grand style and she had a great time. That wouldn’t have happened without some dear friends and family who stepped up to the plate when I found myself the lone ranger in staging the event.

I want to extend deep appreciation to them and all the folks that came to help celebrate my Mother. Without childhood and lifelong friends Susie Krentz and Anne More it would have been a pretty dismal day. They both gave more than two days of their time in planning and decorating The Cowbelle Hall in Douglas, Arizona. We have celebrated family and community events there for literally generations. That’s where we learned to dance, learned how to run a meeting and always looked forward seeing our friends.

With Patty Waid’s decorative boots, Beef Council table clothes, chair covers and sashes from the year we staged the State Fair Junior Livestock Sale, Anne’s creativity and a showing of the Kentucky Derby, the Hall shined. Several folks said they didn’t remember the Hall being as nice as it is. As a shameless plug, the Cowbelles have invested in some much needed renovations and the Hall is now available to rent for parties, meetings, wedding receptions and other events.

It was a lot of fun working in the kitchen with friends and family including Pam and Robbie Sproul, Jerry Ligon, Bill Martin, Lynn Kimble, my only nephew R.W. and his wife Ande, and everyone else that pitched in. It brought back memories of helping Mother, Grandmother, Nana and Aunt Florence as they took their turn at providing the monthly Cowbelle meeting luncheons.

And you cannot forget the clean-up crew, Pam and Robbie, Susie, and Bill Martin. It is amazing how fast you can tear down what took probably eight hours to put together. We had it down and back in the car in less than an hour.

Offering respect

This has been a tough month for New Mexico’s ranching community. We lost Wally Ferguson and Mack Bell. I am proud to have known and learned from both men and we will miss them as we head into the future. I never got to know Shane Kincaid and that will be my loss.

I have mentioned my high school English teacher who had a profound impact on my entire life. We lost her a few weeks ago to the ravages of Alzheimer’s. I was unable to make it back to Tombstone for her celebration of life, but her son was kind enough to let me be a part of the service anyway. Hopefully from this you can get a glimpse of the amazing woman that took me under her wing for life.

Most every life is blessed by special people. I, along with countless others, was blessed by Mary Lou. There are few teachers that remain in our lives much after we were no longer in their class room. That wasn’t so with Mary Lou. High school graduation was just the beginning of a life-long friend and mentorship for me. By extension Herman was part of the package — whether he liked it or not.

I like to think that I was one of few who were so special to her. But that simply isn’t the case. Every time we talked over the past 40 plus years, she was always able to give me a run down for at least three classes before and after me. She was proud of everyone’s accomplishments and was their biggest cheerleader. Her students excelled in numerous fields and there were at least a few that ended up with regional and national media careers.

Mary Lou was passionate about life, her family, her students and what was happening in the world. An example of that was her CASA volunteering after she retired from teaching, along with marching in a political protest or two in downtown Tucson.

We didn’t always agree on those world views, but we had enough love and respect for each other to disagree, without being disagreeable. That didn’t mean she would hesitate to scold me when she thought I was headed down the wrong path in my life.

I know most certainly my life would have been different if I hadn’t had Mary Lou in it from high school on. She was always there when I needed someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, a meal, a bed to sleep in or a special happening to share.

I regret that I am unable to be here today to share in the celebration of Mary Lou’s life, but I will miss her dearly and hold her in my heart.         

Source: New Mexico Stockman, June 2017 

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