Farm Bureau Minute

By Mike White, President, New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau

Freedom to Operate

First I would like to say thank you to the New Mexico legislators who showed their support for our states’ farmers and ranchers by passing HB51, the Right to Farm Bill. The bill, which is sitting on the Governor’s desk waiting for her signature, eliminates the word “improperly” from one sentence in the current Right to Farm Act language. The current statute leaves it open to debate for lawyers as to what are improper operating procedures on an agriculture operation. This is a win for our members and we appreciate those of you who made Round House visits or called your lawmakers to encourage them to support the bill.

However, with that being said, it is far from the revisions that are truly needed to remove the threat of nuisance lawsuits that have currently been filed and will probably be filed against businesses in New Mexico. Senate Bill 229 introduced by Senator Phil Griego and supported by NMFLB offers revisions to the Right to Farm Act which are comprehensive and would take care of the problem of nuisance lawsuits filed to harm agriculture in New Mexico once and for all.

Democracy works in this nation, but it is not a spectator sport. This was a text book example of the impact farmers and ranchers can have when we come together to exercise our influence. Grassroots movements will always have powerful momentum. We have several pieces of legislation for the next session which we want to put forward, but we will need your HELP and VOICE to make it happen. We plan on making a major push through you our members to revise the Right to Farm Act and will call on you to talk directly to your Senators and Representatives before and during the next session as to the importance of this legislation for your livelihood.

The world is run by the people who show up! Government is too big and important to be left to the politicians, and because of that your personal influence becomes more important as we move forward in this political season. At last count, 11 members of the NM House of Representatives have declared their intent to retire.  So at least 15 percent of the chamber will turn over in the next election. That represents a tremendous opportunity for those of us in agriculture to make a difference for our industry. We can help elect lawmakers who understand our issues and will work to defend food production in New Mexico and if possible put some more boots under the table. If you don’t wish to run for office yourself then please volunteer to help with campaigns, use your on-line and in-person social networks to inform your friends and neighbors about desirable candidates, and then offer them a ride on election day. HB51 was not a slam dunk. It took a lot of persuading to get it passed. Let’s make our job easier during the next session by working during the interim to inform our elected officials as to our issues and electing those who will protect New Mexico agriculture. Thank you for being a great Ag-vocate.