Farm Bureau Minute
by Mike White, President, New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau
Your Voice, Our Policies
It’s that time of the year again. The mornings are cool, the leaves are turning, chile is being roasted, and New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau members across the state are considering issues that need to be addressed with policy. Our policy book is both our platform and our frame work. Created by you, our members – it is a grassroots effort that is the bedrock of our beliefs. Every time we add, delete or amend a policy we build the future of our organization, carefully going in the direction that most benefits the farmers and ranchers of New Mexico.
Our policy book informs us on a variety of issues that we face on a day to day basis. For example a New York company – Augustin Plains Ranch, LLC is seeking approval from the State Engineer to drill 37 wells, each 3,000 feet deep in the San Augustin aquifer. This water, an estimated 54,000 acre feet per year, will be transported 142 miles to Rio Rancho to help satisfy its domestic water needs. Users along the route, such as the City of Albuquerque will also be able to purchase the water. What is NMF&LB’s reaction? We rely on policy #5054 “We oppose the inter-basin transfer of water.”
Or take the case where the Wild Earth Guardians recently purchased 28,000 acres worth of grazing rights from a rancher in Catron County. As a result, the National Forest suspended use of the grazing allotment for at least ten years and the permit cannot be reissued without full compliance with NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) and ESA (Endangered Species Act) requirements. Do we have policy on this? Yes, #5019 states “We oppose any agreements of any nature made between anyone with intent to eliminate livestock grazing on Federal or State lands through financial or political means.”
One issue that we faced during last year’s legislative session was the labeling of genetically modified foods, or GMOs. Oddly enough we don’t have a policy on that topic, should we? Agricultural land owners in northern New Mexico have been hit with higher property taxes as their land has been reclassified from agricultural to residential by counties seeking increased tax revenue. We don’t have policy on this, but probably should. Or how about industrial hemp? The most recent Farm Bill contained an amendment to legalize hemp production for research purposes. Should hemp be grown in New Mexico?
Are there current issues in your area that impact agriculture? Do we have policy that addresses the issue? If not we encourage you, as county farm bureaus, to formulate relevant resolutions. Resolutions voted on at the county level are then considered at the House of Delegates on Saturday, November 22, following our Annual Meeting.
I encourage you to become involved in the resolutions process. Our policy book is a guiding document as we go about achieving our mission of protecting and promoting agriculture. Your participation guarantees that you have a voice in the future of our organization, and