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To The Point

by Caren Cowan

You cannot sit this one out

The political season is rapidly coming to a close. In New Mexico absentee voting began on October 7. Early voting begins on October 18. The national General Election is on November 4. As the disclaimer, the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) does not endorse candidates or make campaign donations. However, the Association does encourage their members to do both.

It used to be a tradition in our family for everyone to load up in the car and drive to town for Daddy and Mom to vote. We usually got to eat out that evening as well. It is a fond memory, but not one that I can recommend anymore.

Don’t wait until the last day to vote. Figure out who you are going to vote for and get those votes in as early as possible. Stay home and sitting this election (or any election, but especially this one) out is not an option. There may not be a great choice in every race, but there is a best choice in each of them. There was a time that we had statesmen. Today we may have more politicians than statesmen representing us at every level of government. But whose fault is that?

As I have given this lecture, I have had folks roll their eyes. When I call them on that, they ask if I really think anyone can make a difference. That’s the attitude that has put us in the fix we are in today. Maybe no one (1) vote can make difference but if we would all just make sure that our one (1) vote is in the ballot box we are headed to success. There was a U.S. President; I cannot remember which one, that was elected by the amount equaling just one (1) vote per precinct. That was a pretty larger number, but manageable when you think of it as just one (1) vote at a time.

When you have got your one (1) vote under control, then reach out to 10 other people and make sure that they get their one (1) vote in. Ask each of them to contact 10 people. Before very long YOU have amassed enough votes to make the difference YOU want.

We can all go vote and think that is the end of the privilege and the responsibility. When the population was smaller, before media, before social media, before multimillion-dollar campaigns that might have been true. Not so today. That was also when Americans knew and appreciated where their food, fiber and shelter comes from. They knew who was tending to the land, livestock and wildlife and they trusted that care.

Today people want the full selection of food available at an affordable price and they want to tell you how to produce it. There is no concept of what “public” really means and they have no respect for what “private” means . . . on so many levels.

All land is public in the minds of many. Wilderness is a term applied to anything that is larger than their own neighborhood. The popular media have fully bought into this misconception.

The best analogy that I have ever been able to come up with in explaining public versus private (and if you have read this before, please bear with me) is a bathroom.  When you have a choice between using a public bathroom versus a private one, which one do you choose?

I must admit that my father wasn’t too impressed when I used this on him, a 32-year-school board member, when discussing public education versus private education. Please understand that I am not knocking public schools. I am a product of them and I don’t think I turned out badly. (If you have other thoughts please feel free to keep them to yourself . . . no public expression necessary.)

But I am getting off point. Back to the election. One malady that many Americans seem to suffer is “my elected representative is doing just fine. It is all those others that are the problem.” That fits well with the definition of insanity . . . doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

I am not saying that your governmental representative is doing a bad job. What I am asking is that you know why you are voting for that person or any other. Politics is a pretty much “what have you done for me lately” business. What are the issues critical to you and how did your representative vote? Do you know what they voted that way?

Again with all due respect to the statesmen and politicians that we enjoy the privilege of working with every day, there are some pretty tired responses to votes:

“I knew you had the votes to win, so I didn’t need to alienate anybody.”

“I don’t decide my position on an issue until it gets to the Floor, so no I cannot sign on to a letter/write a letter/take a public stand.”

“I needed to vote that way so somebody would vote with me on my really important bill.”

“I cannot cross party lines.”

The list goes on, but you get the drift. Life was so much easier when things were black and white and we could all think and act that way. But I guess being part of maturing adult is the recognition that there are up sides and down sides to virtually everything and you have to weigh what causes the least amount of harm.

Here are some issues that you might consider as you are making your voting choices:

  • Who is standing up against regulatory oppression and government over-reach? Are they taking that stance in public for all the world to see?
  • Who is pushing back on Endangered Species Act aggression?
  • Who is speaking out against wolf expansion, fencing off riparian areas and meadows for a jumping mouse, 700,000+ plus acres of critical habitat in the US for male jaguars, a critical habitat for the lesser prairie chicken that will cripple ranching as well as oil and gas production . . . (the list is endless)?
  • Who thinks the IRS should treat every American equally?
  • Who stands for a health care system that will provide you and your family adequate health care, no matter how young or old they are?
  • Who thinks federal government employees should be held to the same standards as state and local employees?
  • Who thinks the courts should be land managers?
  • What should drive creation of additional animal cruelty laws?
  • Who thinks you should be able to trap, hunt and fish?
  • Who thinks horses are livestock?
  • Who thinks radical environmental groups should be able to buy out and retire grazing allotments?
  • Who thinks the federal government should be in charge of all water in the US?
  • Who thinks the powerful ag lobby is threatening citizens?
  • Who thinks the Environmental Protection Agency should have the power to garnish wages without a court order?
  • Who thinks our veterans are getting adequate and appropriate care?
  • Who stands up for production agriculture?
  • Who supports trade policies that will protect American agriculture?

I could go on and on. There are too many issues we are facing every day to count and it gets longer every day.

Please get answers that satisfy you on each one of these and all those that are on your mind. Then vote for the people whose answers suit you. Share that information with your family, friends, neighbors, business associates.

Take responsibility for getting 11 or more votes in the ballot box. You might be surprised at just how much power YOU do have.

There is good news

As we list the negatives on some so-called endangered species, we would be remiss if we didn’t share the wins we have seen in the past weeks. I will caution you that there will likely be litigation on these species, but at least some common sense is beginning to prevail.

The US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has determined not to list the Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout as threatened or endangered. They made the same decision with the wolverine. On the lynx, the agency had determined that there will be no critical habitat designation in New Mexico.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found in favor of the FWS’s 2012 decision not to list the dunes sagebrush lizard, which lives in eastern New Mexico and western Texas, under the Endangered Species Act and against a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife seeking to reverse the agency’s decision.

And, not so much

The FWS has listed the Western population of yellow-billed cuckoo as a threatened distinct population segment. This bird uses the same habitat as the Southwestern willow flycatcher and is found in 12 Western States. A half a million acres of critical habitat is being considered for designation, tying up most riparian habitat in the greater Southwest. This is despite the fact that over 1,200 stream miles has already been designated as critical habitat for the flycatcher.

The comment period on the proposed cuckoo (no pun intended) critical habitat closes on October 13, 2014. NMCGA members in Southwestern part of New Mexico tell us the birds are already abundant there.

You might want to take a long look at page 61 of this Stockman where the details of the latest wolf deals are chronicled. We haven’t heard a whisper out of the FWS on the letter that was sent to them asking for action on the matter. The Arizona Game & Fish Department is claiming that because there is nothing in writing, there is no deal. (I guess common law marriage doesn’t exist in Arizona.)

Down to the wire

The deadline for comments on the EPA’s Waters of the US Clean Water Act Rule is October 20, 2014. It is essential that EVERYONE and their dog (yes, my dog has an email address and water availability is of critical interest to her) comments on this attempt on the part of the federal government to claim all water in the country. The address to comment is in Jose’s letter on page 10. We will be posting draft comments on the web at www.nmagriculture.org and Facebook as well as sending out emails. The American Farm Bureau Federation has set up a “Ditch The Rule” website at: http://ditchtherule.fb.org that is helpful as well.

Great news came in early October that the US Small Business Administration has asked the EPA to withdraw the proposal.

It’s not too early . . .

To reserve your room for the 2014 Joint Stockmen’s Convention slated for December 4 through 7 at the Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid North. We have the same $81+ tax rate and you can be sure that there will be a lively program. Call 505/821-3333 to make your reservations now. Schedules and registration materials will be hitting you email and mail boxes within a month.

Remember that the NMCGA is celebrating its 100th Anniversary. There are plenty of tickets available on the two (2) Centennial Quilts that will be given away during the Convention. Half the proceeds from the quilts will go to support the Cattlegrowers Foundation, Inc. There will a shipment of new wild rags in some special colors; we will have new lapel pins and some other surprises.

People are booking for Cowboy Christmas already. Michael McGarity will be there will his new book that contains lots of New Mexico history combined with a story well worth reading.

There are some changes coming in the beef check off. At the very least we will have an update of what is being planned for ranchers within the US Department of Agriculture. There undoubtedly will be wolf tails and jumping mice and who knows what else.

Please plan to be there!

The following is building…

Between the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ page, the NMCGA page and the New Mexico Stockman Facebook pages we now have nearly 12,000 using the platform to stay current with issues, share news about family and friends and take action when needed.