Jul 15 2019

So Many Issues, So Little Time…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Only Thing Worse…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then you watch the news…

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

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

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

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

Second Dollar Collection for the Beef Checkoff is Coming

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

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

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

The new statute states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State Land Leases Due August 1.

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

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

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

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

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

The Border

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: New Mexico Stockman, July 2018