Jul 20 2016

Of Wolves & Men & Workers Comp

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


Workers Comp

On June 30 the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the state’s workers’ compensation exemption for agriculture is unconstitutional. This was not unexpected, but it is certainly a huge blow to the financial well-being and the future of ranch families as well as to the job market in the state.

The short-term advice is to contact your insurance agent immediately to start working on coverage. Unless there is some success in the Court in mid-July, the mandate for insurance will come down as early as July 15. The Workers’ Compensation Administration (WCA) has stated publicly that they will begin enforcement immediately upon receiving the mandate.

Unfortunately at this writing the confusion we have been dealing with for nearly a year continues to reign. The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA), the Dairy Producers of New Mexico, Dairy Farmers of America and the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau are all working with the WCA to achieve some clarity.

Another concern that has come to light over the past several months is the cancellation of workers’ comp insurance by those ranchers and farmers who elected to get coverage well before the Court made its decision. Those folks are finding that a single claim can result in the cancellation of an existing policy.

When those folks ask what they are supposed to do for coverage they are directed to the “pool” with New Mexico Mutual where they are charged what seem to be unaffordable rates? Questions are being asked on this front too.

NMCGA leadership is looking into the possibility of a self-insured fund as well as training seminars in an effort to bring and keep the cost down. Stay tuned as this situation plays out.


Animal Conflict on the Rise

For several weeks this summer I have been collecting notes about the amount of conflict that people seem to be having with wildlife. As the summer has unfolded, the conflicts between humans and humans have taken the forefront of the media with numerous senseless killings around the country.

This is a sad state of affairs for our country and I am glad my grandparents aren’t around to see this.

It seems that everyone has a solution, but no one wants to put the work in the solution. Let’s just blame someone or something and keep heading down the same dangerous path. One can only hope that at some point people from all sides will climb down off their high-horses and do the real soul-searching and work that needs to be done to regain civility.

With that said, the animal issues remain important. Honestly it may play into our societal problem. If we cannot make prudent decisions when it comes to animals, how are we ever going to apply ourselves to mankind?

The first blunder of utter stupidity was the urbanite in Yellowstone National Park who gathered up a buffalo calf in the back of his SUV and hauled it to authorities. It is pretty amazing to me that the buffalo cow let this happen. The guy is darned lucky that he lived to tell about it and doesn’t have a smashed vehicle.

The second, pretty much the dumbest thing I ever heard, is that the National Park Service ended up destroying the calf. Haven’t they ever heard of bottle feeding??? Wouldn’t it be great to have a pet buffalo on the park for the urbanites to be able to be around?

I guess it boils down to who is going to do the work. Animal care on that level certainly doesn’t happen between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The third part is just utter stupidity. The guy who picked up the calf said he would do it again if necessary. Doesn’t he care that his uneducated actions caused the death of the calf. I hope that the next time he tries it; the cow will be there to weigh in on the activity.

I read something just recently about a fawn being put down because the doe was dead or missing. What part of caring for animals do people not get? Of course, it is against the law for an ordinary citizen to care for abandoned wildlife.

I think there was a book one time where a human family took in a few fawns over decades and raised them to be healthy adults. One of those deer, a buck, developed a liking for the taste of Granddaddy and Daddy’s cigarettes. Most of the folks guilty of this excessive care are long passed.

Then there was the lady who walked right up to a cow elk to get a face photograph… despite being warned to stop several times. She kept walking run up until the cow knocked her on her posterior.

There are more of these incidents, some with tragic endings. The moral to the story is that wildlife is WILD, leave it alone. It may hurt you.

Mother Nature doesn’t really have a soft side and wildlife can be brutal to both humans and other animals. Listen to her!


Then the animal rightists…

If you missed Mid Year, you missed out on a real-time drill on emergency preparedness. Little did we know that the team would be called into action shortly after the convention for the Dog Head Fire.

The fire was catastrophic for some, and some ranchers ignored warnings to go and save their cattle. Despite a few hours of uncertainly and frustration on the part of officials around the fire, the five cowboys came out with their cows.

The statewide emergency team functioned as it was supposed to. The work of those on the ground protecting their property and helping others was nothing short of amazing. Although resources were ready if needed, the locals made sure that food and housing was available for man and beast.

In addition to the large livestock, there were numerous chickens, sheep, goats, turkeys, dogs and cat that needed to be cared for. Locations for that were set up at the Torrance County Fairgrounds and the New Mexico State Fairgrounds.

At one point there was a call for assistance with pets. There were a lot of them housed at both locations. You will never guess who showed up.

That’s right, an animal rights group complete with their “gee I’m special t-shirts”… not to help which was what was requested, but to inspect and make sure that someone else was taking care of the animals. Please see section on being a solution, not demanding a solution earlier.


Out of the closet and into the courts

We have long known that Animal Protection of New Mexico was a front for national groups like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). However, there was no overt admission to that fact.

Recently HSUS and APNM came out of the closet to file suit against the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish (NMDGF) and the State Game Commission for allowing the trapping of mountain lions. Stay tuned to see how this plays out.


We got good news on the NMDFG standing up to the federal government over wolf releases in New Mexico! A federal district court judge allowed an injunction against the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to keep them from releasing any more wolves until a suit is decided on the issue. Unfortunately the injunction didn’t extend to making the FWS pick up the pups that were “cross-fostered” on to wolves in the “wild” in late April.

We have a huge debt of gratitude to the Department, the Commission and the Martinez administration for sticking to their guns on this one.

The wolf program continues to struggle with the news that three (3) wolves have been killed, one (1) in New Mexico and two (2) Arizona. The deaths are under investigation.    

At press time the U.S. Department of Interior Office of the Inspector General issued a report on its investigation of the allegations made by Catron County, New Mexico in 2013. According to media reports, the federal investigation backs up the Catron County claims. More on this issue next month.

In the meantime NMCGA members and ranching families in the wolf recovery area are suffering monumental losses this year, not just of calves but of full grown cows. Thus far pleas for wolf removal have fallen on deaf ears and there are no funds to recoup the losses that are being suffered.


Ya think?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has noticed that suicide rates have jumped by 21 percent over the past 12 years. They decided to conduct a study on the issue.

They found that suicide rates were highest among workers who were isolated or “precariously employed” — farming (and ranching I would guess), fishing and forestry. The report stated:

“Analysis… indicated that workers in the farming, fishing and forestry occupational group had the highest rate of suicide (84.5 per 100,000), followed by workers in construction and extraction (53.3), and installation, maintenance and repair (47.9).”

Additional findings were that men in fishing, farming, forestry — also accounted for the highest rate of suicide at 90.5 per 100,000.

Among the factors the agency cited as potential contributors included “work-home imbalance, socioeconomic inequities, chronic exposure to pesticides which might affect the neurological system and contribute to depressive symptoms, isolation, financial loss, barriers or unwillingness to seek mental health services and access to lethal means (another jab at gun control).

It is a shame that the CDC didn’t venture into rural areas to find the real culprits of this high rate of suicide among people who provide the food, fiber and housing to our nation. They blame everything but the hostile federal agencies’ onslaught that destroys jobs, families, communities, rights, access, and hopes as well as the attacks by “special interest groups” who are working so hard on cultural genocide.


The View From Under the Bus…

Human skin burns as a result of a rotating tire on a moving vehicle are hard to heal. I know this because I was once run over by a go-cart. The accident was entirely my fault.          

Not being much of dare-devil, I had no business driving a go-cart at what I considered a prudent speed around the track. I was asking for trouble.

This poor stranger rounded a curve and just ran right up the back of my cart and over the top of me and my cart with his spinning tires landing on my shoulders. There was a bit of a kink in my neck from where the front-end of the cart hit before going over the top of my head.

That was my first and last go-cart ride. My dad had always warned us of fast moving anything. One of Connie’s favorite stories is about getting on a new mare for the first time. About the time she got her foot in the stirrup, Daddy pipes up, “Now you need to be really careful… this is more horse than you have ever been on. She can jump out from under you in a second.”

Dad could be a real confidence builder at times. He never heard the story of my go-cart encounter. But on to the buses.     

My time under the bus is metaphoric and the pain associated with it is minimal. That time generally comes when someone is trying to divide and conquer or justify their own bad behavior. Just know that when I am peeking out from under a bus,

I will tell you that when there is wrong doing, my fears don’t keep me from bailing in whether the match be physical or verbal or written, thus some might find me rude, arrogant and overbearing and believe that nobody would put up with me if I wasn’t female (a statement that was made to my face and he was ruled off the island).

If that is what it takes to try and keep rancher families on the ground, then I will wear the t-shirt.     

Source: New Mexico Stockman, July 2016