by Rex Wilson
New Mexico Cattle Grower's Association President's Message
As I write my final letter, there is much to review and much to be thankful for. I want to extend sincere appreciation to the Executive Committee, all the Committee Chairman and Vice Chairman and all of the members who have contributed to a growing New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) over the past two years. It is simply amazing the amount of work that gets done through the NMCGA staff. Please join me in expressing appreciation to them as well.
I am proud and humbled to report that we have surpassed our goal of 400 new members during 2012 and 2013. Now it is on to the next bench mark. Retention of members is important as well. We have mailed a “come on back” letter to the dropped members from the past five years and those folks are starting to reinstate their memberships. We are at the highest NMCGA membership we have had in years and are growing toward new highs on a daily basis. That wouldn’t be possible without you putting your shoulder to the wheel and making it happen. I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that it is a deliberate choice to be a member and I want to insure that NMCGA is worthy of your membership.
In late October my son Marshal and I had the privilege of accompanying a group of ranchers to Washington, DC to advocate for some real change in how federal agencies treat Americans. As a community we spend a lot of time lamenting our small numbers and the lack of the ability to change how we are treated. It is easy to fall into that trap when we, at the ranch, watch the news headlines and the emails piling up.
That trip was a real eye opener. There were 20 of us from Wyoming, Nevada, Idaho, Texas and New Mexico. The reason for the trip was a House of Representatives Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands & Environmental Regulations hearing. The subject was Federal Bullyling & Abuse.
We have long known that some, certainly not all, federal employees believe they are above the law. We have seen numerous egregious acts like perjury in federal court right here in New Mexico. The reason for that is that they have sovereign immunity under the Civil Rights Act. That means they cannot be held personally liable for their actions, unlike state and local employees who hold qualified immunity. As long as state and local employees act within the law, they cannot be held personally liable for their actions. Federal employees have no such constraints.
Karen Budd Falen, our Cheyenne, Wyoming attorney, has devised a solution to the problem at the behest of the U.S. Supreme Court in their decision on the Frank Robbins case a few years ago. The hearing was the first step in getting Congress to act and protect Americans from their own employees. These actions are not limited to federal lands ranchers, but run the gambit through just about any federal agency.
But the hearing itself was just a fraction of the time we spent and the impacts that group made. Never wanting to waste a minute Michelle Frost and Karen’s staff planned four days of meetings with decision makers not just on Capitol Hill but throughout DC. We met with groups like The Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, public relations firms and national media in addition to more than 20 members of Congress or their staffs from all of the states represented and then some.
I can tell you that people care what is happening to us. They just need to see the faces that are suffering the abuse.
We hear often that we need to do a better job of telling our story. That’s the truth. We are surviving and we will continue to do so by taking the individual responsibility to let leaders know what is happening on the ground.
I have been proud to serve NMCGA all the way up through the chairs and look forward to finishing out my duties as a past president over the next four years. Thank you for this tremendous opportunity.
Sincerely, Rex Wilson