Go Ahead, Be Offended

Obviously I am a current events junky, thus we watch and listen to a lot of news. In an attempt not to be blindly led by any single perspective, in the mornings we watch Fox News for about an hour. In the evenings we try to watch two network national news broadcasts. At night we watch the local news. During the day there is a mix of KOB 770 and Rural Radio in the car. Add in the emails and Facebook (until recently) and I have a pretty broad range in what is going on around me.

Clearly there isn’t a united perspective on any subject, but there are lots of subjects. A few recently struck me as remark worthy.

Watching the theater of presidential candidates provides lots of entertainment. Listening to the hordes of people who pontificate on what the situation will be a year from now is endless. It seems that each and every person in this country has the right and the responsibility to be offended by anything and everything.

The latest Donald Trump “blunder” is a statement where he said the “silent majority” is standing up to support him. Please note that this is not a political announcement, paid or otherwise. There is way too much entertainment value and education necessary before making any decision on whom to consider supporting.

Back to Trump’s most recent “racist” remark. At least one pundit, who worked in the Bush/Cheney administration, believes that the “silent majority” Trump was referring to is not the great number of Americans of all colors, faiths and walks of life who may feel disenfranchised by the federal government. He believes the term is a mere code word for the Tea Party.

But Trump isn’t alone. Chris Christy is being chastised for questioning why Federal Express can track millions of packages from shipping to destination but the government cannot keep track of visas. One analyst is offended by comparing people to packages. Another doesn’t think the border issue has anything to do with visas.

Then we have the whole Black Lives Matter movement. One of their latest chants is “Pigs in a blanket fry ‘em like bacon.” Pretty tasteless shown in the context of the latest murder of a policeman. Don’t ALL lives matter???

But perhaps the hit of the month is the Allies for Alley Cats. They are a group based on the saving of feral cats. The feral cat issues in Florida are well out of hand.  For some time researchers have warned that feral cats have become a health hazard for the homeless and others because of the diseases they carry. Now they are becoming an environmental health hazard by killing wildlife. The Allies seem to have little care for the humans or the environment, only the cats. I am offended.


You may be missing the N.M. Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) on Facebook. That’s because Facebook took the page down. Apparently someone complained about the page. We will get it back up in some form in the near future. But for the moment we have plenty of other things to do.

Local Water Grab

Last month we spent a lot of space on the issue of the Interstate Stream Commission’s (ISC) attempt to claim all of the unappropriated water rights for non-consumptive use in the lower Canadian River drainage. (Surely there is more than one oxymoron in that sentence.)

At the behest of Senator Pat Woods and Representative Dennis Roch, ISC staff held a meeting in Tucumcari on the issue in mid August. They allotted a whole hour for public input. Although they were warned that they would have a large crowd and that only an hour would not suffice, they disagreed. After all there was just going to be some ranchers who would all have the same to say, right?

Surprise, surprise! More than 150 people showed up, including commissioners from at least four counties, a mayor, city councilmen, businessmen, recreationists, farmers, ranchers, teachers and who knows who else in attendance. Individuals in the group had plenty to say on a wide variety of topics.

Among the highlights of the evening was when ISC staff seemed to infer that if the ISC didn’t gain rights to the water that the feds would supersede and deny access to the river, something that had been repeatedly stated in the month leading up to the meeting. Representative Roch called them on it and they backed down.

Another interesting moment occurred when ISC staff attempted to take credit for going to Tucumcari for the meeting. Representative Roch was quick to question that as well. He pointed out that if he and Senator Woods hadn’t asked for a meeting, there wouldn’t have been one.

The assembled crowd was unanimous in their request that the ISC withdraw its application for rights. The ISC already controls the seepage from Ute Reservoir, which staff has admitted is all they need.

While there were no decisions announced at the meeting, there is hope that if an application is refiled it will be only for the seepage. Stay tuned.

Thanks are required

In late August the N.M. State Game Commission took on some highly controversial issues that led to a lively meeting. (See President Jose Varela Lopez’ message on page 10). From the agricultural perspective, the decisions they made were the right ones. We as group, and individually, need to express gratitude for their actions to benefit wildlife and humans alike.

The first agenda item that brought wrath was the appeal of the denial of a permit for Mexican wolves. Although it was made clear on the agenda that this was a quasi judicial process and no comment would be allowed, radical environmentalists staged a protest outside the Santa Fe Community College building where the meeting was held. Reports are that there were about 100 people at the protest. Ultimately, the Commission put off a decision until their September 29 meeting at the Embassy Suites in Albuquerque to allow time for the record to be supplemented. We can look forward to another protest there too.

The next issue that brought ire was the adoption of new bear and cougar rules. The cougar issue is one that has long been of interest to NMCGA. During the 2015 Legislature, the Association had a bill introduced to make cougar a non-game species.

During the hearing on the bill, the N.M. Department of Game & Fish (NMDGF) admitted that the population was growing by leaps and bounds. Current sport hunting is resulting of a harvest that is just over one-third of the number of lions that should be taken annually to keep population at a manageable level. Every stripe of animal rights/environmentalist was on hand to support NMDGF management of the critters. Those folks stated repeatedly that they supported the science of the Department. So, the bill was let die in its second committee.

However, when the NMDGF took their recommendations to the public this past spring, the animal rightists/environmentalists changed their tune. The Department’s science had no merit and nothing should change was their mantra. As late as early August, the print media was still asking if there was any science to support the NMDGF proposal.

After the publication of the Department’s proposal, there was a “viable alternative” proposal posted to give the Commission plenty to think about.

But perhaps the best part of the cougar debate was the stand Commissioner of Public Lands Aubrey Dunn took. As ranchers and some other natural resource users have always known, State Trust Land is NOT public land. It is land held in trust for N.M.’s students into perpetuity and does not allow for the multiple use that is allowed on federal land. Those who wish to utilize State Trust Land must have a permit to do so. While hunters have unfettered access to State Trust Land during hunting and scouting seasons, that is because the NMDGF has secured the permit for them to do that.

The concept that federal lands and State Trust Lands are different and have different rules and regulations has been a hard one to convey in the past. Commissioner Dunn has made that clear, in part by his demand that State Trust Land be treated as private land in the cougar rule.

In the end, the Commission unanimously supported the NMDGF proposal, which allowed for more take of cougars. It is worth noting, however, that the proposal was not as robust as what was proposed by the Dept. in their first public meetings.

The third home run at the Commission meeting was the slowing down the train on the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). We could, and have, talked for days about the problems with this “planning document” that provides for federal funding for Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN). The theory is that the by working on species of concern before they are listed federally as threatened or endangered, that list can be avoided. That makes sense… right up until there are 455 species of concern and some 40 of them are already listed federally.

Natural resource users were further frustrated by the fact that little to no time was planned for the public to review a complete document. Rather, the document has been “living” on a website. Initial word was that the final document would be likely not being available for review because of the October 1 deadline from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Thanks to the leadership of the NMDGF and the Game Commission, the process has been extended by two months and everyone will have the opportunity to review and comment on a final draft followed by time for comments to incorporate into the final document.

Please take a few minutes to drop a note or send an email to every member of the Commission as well as Commissioner Dunn thanking them for their consideration. If you need help with addresses, please contact the NMCGA office at 505/247.0584 or nmcga@nmagriculture.org

That Woman

This topic has been rumbling in my mind for some time. Now seems the appropriate to get it on paper.

Long ago and far away in another life, I came across a woman who, unbeknown to her, had a some role in shaping my life. Her name was Margaret Watkins. For years she was the backbone of the American Brahman Breeders Association. She ran the office and the registry and generally kept the world in line. She lived in the heart of Brahman country and had her own herd.

She was a portly woman who wore home-made clothes that I assume she made herself. She didn’t take guff off anybody and you never doubted what was on her mind.

One evening at a Brahman sale and event, I ended up standing behind her for awhile…while sipping on my more than one too many margaritas. I was quite offended when I heard her comment to someone standing next to her that she didn’t understand why associations hired young girls. All they are looking for is a husband and to have babies. They don’t stay around long enough to be of any use, or something close to that.

As a fairly new employee at the International Brangus Breeders Association well under the age of 30, that certainly was not my goal. Furthermore it was a pretty narrow-minded point of view. Margaret became “that woman” in my mind.

In the years since then I came to respect Margaret, who passed away several years ago. I still don’t agree with her point of view on young women in the workplace, but she had lots of wisdom to gain.

Over the years, I seem to have become “that woman.” My career path has put me in a position to call ranchers’ homes on a regular basis, most often in the evenings and often interacting with the lady and/or children of the house.

While working on a sale catalog for one Texas ranch, there were lots of conversations with the ranch manager often as we scheduled photo shoots, data assembly and so on. The young people in the house are often the ones that race to answer the phone.

One evening I made a call to the manager’s home. His young son answered the phone. I greeted him, told him who I was and asked if I could speak to his dad. The next thing I heard was “Mom, it’s that woman again.” And so it began.

There was one NMCGA president who had two young children during his years of service as president-elect, president and then past president. After awhile I would have to steel myself for calls to his house. One time when his wife answered the phone and said it’s Miss Caren. The next sound I heard was the sound of two children crying. Another time the son answered the phone, after which he said “Mom, it’s Miss Cowan. Can I tell her we’re having dinner and to call back?” I definitely learned to try and shorten calls to that household.

More recently, Marguerite was visiting with a neighbor in Albuquerque. It was one of those neighbors that took awhile to build a relationship with. One evening as they were visiting he asked where she worked. When she told him, he said “You seem to be nice but I cannot stand that woman you work with, you know the one that’s on TV sometimes.”

Well past my second decade in work for N.M.’s livestock trade organizations, I am sure there are some not-so-amusing stories about that woman. Such is the life when you are trying to make a difference.