May 01 2019

What are our options?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where does NM stand?

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

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

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

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

The PEW report can be found at www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/data-visualizations/2014/fiscal-50#ind0 .

This isn’t news to ranchers and farmers…

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

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

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

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

But this might be news to eaters…

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

Between 1960 and 2007, the share of disposable personal income spent on total food by Americans fell from 17.5 to 9.6 percent, as the share of income spent on food at home fell. The share of income spent on food purchased in grocery stores and other retailers declined from 14.1 percent in 1960 to 5.5 percent in 2007, according to http://beef2live.com/  in an April 28, 2019 post.

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

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

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

And here in New Mexico

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

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

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

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

International Data

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

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

Source: www.weforum.org/agenda /2016/12/this-map-shows-how-much -each-country-spends-on-food

WALC! REGISTER NOW!!!

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

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

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

You can registered NOW at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/women-in-agriculture-leadership-conference-2019-tickets-51969614516 . Prices range from $50 to $130.

Heartfelt Thanks!

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

Source: New Mexico Stockman, May 2018