Aug 04 2019

Monsoon Madness

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

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

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

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

Definition of weather

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

Definition of climate

1: a region of the earth having specified climatic conditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ground Hog Day… all over again

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Do-Over

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

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

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

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

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

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

Victims No More

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

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

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

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

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

Fake Meat

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Growing Stronger!               

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

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

Beyond Disgusting….

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

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

Nuff said.      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, August 2018