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 
May 01 2017

High Stakes …

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

In a world where all we want to do is grow healthy food and fiber, take care of the land, provide reasonable resources for wildlife and rear families who have common sense and strong values, there is sure a lot standing in the way. It is hard to ignore the political scene both in our state and our nation.

Let’s start with the state front. At press time, there is still no word on when or if Governor Susana Martinez will call a Special Session to address the financial crisis our state is in.

We have no budget including operations for higher education, the Legislature and much, much more. The Legislature has sued the Governor and the State Supreme Court has taken on the case. The Governor’s answer to the suit is due on May 5.

She has called for furlough plans from all state agencies and there is rumor that the state will be out of money prior to the Memorial Day weekend. There is also rumor that there are tens of millions of dollars to come from the feds that could provide a short term fix. But, of course, will the feds deliver?

The Impact on New Mexico Agriculture

A higher education budget would seem to be important because we rely upon New Mexico’s institutions to educate the generations that will follow in our footsteps and create the next big advances for our community. That alone is enough to generate deep concern over the situation we now find ourselves in.

But you don’t have to dig very deep to figure out that it isn’t just higher education that we rely on our educational institutions for. In the case of agriculture, New Mexico State University (NMSU) is crucial to our future. The state’s only land grant university, NMSU houses the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA), the Cooperative Extension Service (CES), the Agriculture Experiment Station (AES) system, the Range Improvement Task Force (RITF) and the College of Agriculture.

Following those branches a bit, the CES has a presence in all of the state’s 33 counties. It is the home for 4-H and numerous other programs that reach out to local communities and works to educate youth of all ages on the agriculture. The AES has 12 science centers from Farmington to Clayton and down to Las Cruces. Each of these centers has a specific mission to address a variety of agriculture pieces. Those that ranchers work with most are the Clayton Research Center, which has a fully functional feed yard; the Tucumcari Ag Science Center which includes the Tucumcari Bull Test and lots of other projects; and the Corona Range & Livestock Center that is a working ranch laboratory.

The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) and other ag groups have often gone to bat at the Legislature and in other venues to provide funding and resources for these centers that are so important to the future on one of the largest engines in the state’s economy.

The FFA (formerly the Future Farmers of America) and the Agriculture Extension Education (AXED) programs are part of the College of Agriculture. It is worth noting that for the 2016-2017 school year, there were some four Albuquerque schools that wanted to add agriculture education to their programs. However there were not enough ag teachers available for that to happen.

We could go on, but the picture is pretty clear that much more than a teaching budget is necessary for NMSU to continue to provide all the services needed by agriculture.

This isn’t a problem isolated to NMSU. Other universities are equally important to other sectors so necessary to our state. Just look at the University of New Mexico and what it means to health care to the state and surrounding regions.

The Governor has pledged to fund higher education and we need to hold her feet to the fire on funding ALL of what these institutions mean to our families, our communities and our livelihoods.

Then the tax package …

The Governor also vetoed a tax package intended to address the budget crisis New Mexico has faced for the past several years and will continue to face for the foreseeable future. Being no tax expert, I am not going to sit in judgment of any package, but we have learned more about HB 412, the Administration’s preferred approach, from the regular Session. 

Sponsor Representative Jason Harper and others sat down for an afternoon at the NMCGA office for a fairly in-depth discussion. We think we planted some seeds that will bear fruit in coming versions of the bill.

As it sits now, HB 412 is alarming at best. While it appears to be clear that there is no intention to increase the tax burden on agriculture, eliminating exemptions in favor of deductions, it is completely clear that the current plan will be an impossible standard for many, many small agriculture operations across the state.

Instead of having a clear exemption as we have today, the measure would require that all agriculturists would be required to obtain a State Tax ID number, also known as a Combined Reporting System (CRS) ID Number. This registration is the Taxation & Revenue Department’s (TRD) method for reporting the State’s major business taxes.

Then for every transaction of buying or selling ag products or products used for the production of food and fiber, there would have to be a NTTC (Non Taxable Transaction Certificate) form executed. On a monthly basis a report would be filed with the TRD where the NTTC would prove deductions.

Confused yet? I certainly am. NMCGA has made clear that this process would add untold hours of record keeping to agriculturists who are already working from dark to dark would be impossible for many to comply with. Then you add in that the friendly and helpful (NOT!) TRD would be the compliance agency and it runs shivers down my spine.

The Association has requested either the retention of exemptions, which we are told is highly unlikely, or a system that would provide for a number that could be used for agriculture purchases. Stay tuned to see how all that works out.

Again, agriculture is among all New Mexico businesses that will be majorly affected by whatever the final outcome is.

Part of the intent of the bill is to eliminate business to business service taxes. For example, if passed the bill would allow your account or your attorney not to charge gross receipts tax on their services to your business.

It is envisioned that the new taxation system would begin on July 1, 2018, with regulations to be determined as the system is implemented.

On the Federal Front

News is quite a bit better on the federal front as President Trump completed his first 100 days, meeting a large number of goals that he promised and set for himself. Those include an on-going attempt to address the health care system in our nation, a new tax plan that would eliminate the death tax, and many executive orders addressing the issues that have faced the West for two or three past administrations. A prime example is the order to review all presidential monument designations back to the Clinton era.

The media is still making lots of noise about the unfavorable rating of the President. However they have to admit that it is steadily coming up and people are increasingly encouraged by the direction of the country for the last six or eight months.

What they are not taking much notice of is what is happening to the financial markets. I don’t know if that is the best yardstick, but record highs continue to be hit and this is the greatest rise in the markets since the 1940s.

We are anxious for the appointments to be made in the departments and agencies that we work with on a daily basis. We need meaningful change to individual regulations and processes. Secretary Zinke’s order for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to go back to the drawing board on their planning processes is a tremendous start. We need the same thing in the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies.

One thing to remember is that just because we have an Administration that we believe to be favorable to us, we must remain vigilant in holding their feet to the fire. We must file petitions for regulatory change. We must file lawsuits when necessary to demand the changes we need. It’s using those processes and others that put our backs to the wall now.

We must also be willing to serve when asked. There will be many requests for service or guidance in the months and year to come. This is not the time to let someone else do it. This is YOUR time to lead. Please don’t ignore it.

Wolf Wars

A prime example of the continued fight is on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the listings that have been, the regulatory guidance, and anything and everything else we can think of.

Late April saw some movement on the wolf front. First there was a decision out of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals vacating the restraining order keeping the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) from releasing wolves in New Mexico without permission of the state. There is no doubt that is disappointing. However, this doesn’t make the case go away. The New Mexico Department of Game & Fish can still proceed with the underlying case.

There were two reasons given for the overturn. One was that the State didn’t make the case of irreparable harm. That single reason, that we may disagree with, should have been enough said. However the Court felt the need to go one step forward, claiming that the ESA trumps all. That is the mantra we have heard out of federal lawyers ad nauseam.

Hopefully we now have a Trump for that.

10J Rule Case

The day after the 10th Circuit ruling, some 12 attorneys massed in the Federal District Court in Tucson for a hearing on the case filed by the Arizona/New Mexico Coalition of Counties against the FWS on the ESA 10J experimental, non-essential rule issued in early 2015. There were interventions and other cases that were all smashed into one hearing that including Coalition/NMCGA attorney Karen Budd-Falen, two attorneys from the Safari Club International, one lawyer from the State of Arizona, four federal attorneys, two lawyers from the Center for Biological Diversity and two from the WildEarth Guardians. Thankfully only nine of them spoke, but some of them twice.

At issue is if all or part of the rule should be remanded to the FWS to do over again and if the rule should be vacated while the do over occurs. Of course the FWS wants none of the above to happen.

The Safari Club and the Coalition/NMCGA wants all of the above. The radical environmentalists want a partial remand with no vacating.

The Judge took the case under advisement and said she would issue a decision as soon as practicable. That was amusing because one of the issues is what is “practicable” for the FWS. It is a wiggle term used by lawyers and embedded in statute.

Stay tuned for updates. Clearly regardless to what the District Court outcome is, the case will be appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals… the court most often overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.


A great deal of appreciation is in order for CKP Insurance who has just become the NMCGA’s first Premier Sponsor and the ADM who has just purchased a sponsorship package. Please support these businesses who support YOU!!!      


Source: New Mexico Stockman, May 2017 
Apr 03 2017

The Year of the Critter

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

Lots of people worked their socks off making sure that many bills that would have negatively impacted agriculture, wildlife, and all of New Mexico didn’t get to Governor Susana Martinez’ desk. They also worked on a few bills that would make life easier for some folks including one to add a second dollar to the Beef Checkoff in New Mexico. That second dollar would be VOLUNTARY with a detailed provision on how cattle and dairy men opt out of the collection of a second dollar. The first dollar is the federal dollar that is mandatory and remains the same.

Read more ...

Mar 01 2017

On the downhill slide…

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

 At this writing we are just over two-thirds of the way of the 2017 Legislature. While literally anything can happen in the next 20 days, it already has been a pretty eventful Session. Like all of them, this has been way different, but it is more glum than any I remember.

In a cruel twist of fate, both the House Agriculture & Water Committee and the Senate Conservation Committee meets at the same time, every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. That spreads the ag contingent pretty thin. The contentious issues that have come up in Conservation have required that we begin filling the seats as early as 7:00 a.m. Then, we still didn’t get all of our people into the room.

Read more ...

Feb 02 2017

Take a deep seat and far-way look … and pull out your checkbook.

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

The nation elected a president that vowed to make a change in the direction of our country. The nation did the same thing eight years ago when the mantra was hope and change. Under that president the changes were incremental, but devastating for many.

Good, bad or indifferent, President Trump is wasting no time to make the changes he promised. The response from the opposition is nothing short of incredible. People are amassing and marching across the country, including New Mexico, to oppose Trump’s actions. Unfortunately it appears that they are gathering in opposition to Trump without any understanding of what he may or may not be doing.

Read more ...

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