by Rex Wilson
New Mexico Cattle Grower's Association President's Message
Dear Fellow Cattlemen,
Our thoughts and prayers are centered on the weather. It is no secret that the outlook is grim, but when have we ever believed the weatherman? (With all due respect for weathermen/women.) We will all continue to pray and hopefully those prayers will be answered sooner rather than later.
In the meantime just the opposite of the rain, we are being hailed on with issues largely stemming from the federal government. We are beginning to see the real effects of the settlement the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) made with the WildEarth Guardians (WEG) and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). In two (2) separate lawsuits the group sued the U.S. Fish & Wildlife (FWS) in the Washington, D.C. District Court for action on over 100 species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In true bureaucratic fashion DOJ settled the cases in May and June 2011, of course paying over $2 million dollars in attorneys’ fees. That wasn’t the worst part. When the settlement was finished there were well over 700 species to be addressed, all by 2016.
In return the two so-called environmental groups agreed that they would refrain from filing any more suits in that time frame. The idea was to give the FWS time to “catch up” on the backlog of ESA work, largely created by lawsuits filed by these and other such groups. The settlement did not preclude other groups from filing. Nor has it stopped CBD. Just off the top of my head, there are pending notices of intent to sue on the sand dune lizard and Mexican wolves.
New Mexicans and others are feeling tremendous impacts as a result of that settlement agreement — that is NOT being followed by those who would drive us from the land. We thought we had a major victory when the science proved that the lizard did not need to be listed. Not so much.
Now in exactly the same habitat, eastern New Mexico and west Texas, there will likely be a listing of the lesser prairie chicken by fall. But just because you don’t live in those areas, don’t assume that you have dodged any bullets.
By June we are expecting a listing notice on the meadow jumping mouse that will hammer all of the high country in the New Mexico. Remember this is all about habitat and controlling land and has very little to do with the number of species actually on the ground, or the impacts on them that humans cannot control like the weather.
The Mexican wolf has been a HUGE problem for ranchers in the southwestern part of the state for 15 years. That may be visited on all of us in the near future. At press time a document was leaked to the press that would delist all wolves except the Mexican variety — and they would become fully endangered. This would eliminate the limited amount of protection offered by the ESA Section 10J experimental, non-essential designation. The documents are not available, but we all better take a deep seat and a far-away look as we head into this fight.
Now for just a bit of good news. When I was elected New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) president in 2011, I set a goal of garnering 400 new members before the end of my term in 2013. I am not sure even I thought that was attainable, but it was a good goal.
I am proud to report that due to the diligent effort of members across the state and our office staff, we are less than 100 members away from that goal!
If there are just a few more meetings like the folks in Quay County did in late March and we will far exceed the goal. NMCGA gained more than 20 new and reinstated members from just that one meeting and membership are still coming in from the area.
We are looking at a similar meeting on May 28 in Socorro in conjunction with the New Mexico Drought Workshop hosted by the New Mexico Society for Range Management and others.
Please keep up the prayers for rain and make plans to attend the Mid-Year Meeting including Wool Growers,
CowBelles, Federal Lands Council and Farm Bureau June 16 through 18 in Albuquerque.