NMCGA Presidents Letter

 

As I put pen to paper it is less than two days after the end of the 2012 legislative session and the dust has yet to settle. What we do know, clear as day, is that of the more than 744 bills introduced, less than 80 made it to the fourth floor desk of the Governor to be vetoed or become law.

During budget sessions, such as the recently completed one, the primary focus is to fund state government for the upcoming fiscal year, with all the challenges and competing interests that figure into the equation. Our particular focus on the budget was to seek additional funding for the Cooperative Extension Service, Agricultural Experiment Stations and New Mexico Department of Agriculture, all of which have suffered severe budget cuts in recent years and desperately need restored funding to continue their respective missions to assist agriculture and New Mexicans in general. At this time it appears that a modest amount of funding made it into the budget that was sent to the Governor, but not enough to address the issue completely. There is more that needs to be done in this regard, but the additional funding would be a welcome step in the right direction.

The first bill to be signed by Governor Martinez during the most recent legislative session was what everyone called the “hay bill.” This legislation allows oversized loads of hay to be shipped into and transported throughout the state, an issue that became especially relevant during the last year when the prolonged drought afflicting the state produced shortages of available feed within our borders. As luck would have it, the Governor signed the “hay bill” just minutes before she graciously cut the ribbon at “Ag Feed”, the annual event where the state’s major agricultural organizations gather forces to prepare a meal for our legislators, their staffs and everyone else within smelling distance of the event. As has been the case every year, there were hundreds of smiling faces in the rotunda of the capitol where the plates of beef, lamb and fixings were served.

Aside from the positive, there is always legislation that has the potential to negatively affect our industry and families alike. While there were several of these bills introduced during the session, I’m glad to say that none of them gathered any steam. So, all in all, things didn’t turn out so bad.

I’d like to acknowledge the folks who spent nearly every day at the legislature helping to address issues as they arose and always lending a helping hand, namely Nikki Hooser, Joe Culbertson and Alfredo Roybal. I would also like to thank the many people who read bills and kept us apprised of potential concerns. It is because of your dedication that we can efficiently and effectively speak to the needs of our collective interests.

Finally, my gratitude to Michelle Frost, staffer extraordinaire, who kept the novice up to speed on the issues, on time, on cue and out of trouble.

May the Lord bless us with good moisture, healthy animals and the continued fellowship that has sustained our families through many generations.

 

Sincerely ,
                José Varela, President-Elect

 

 

 

 

PS:  I knew I would leave a legislator out last month
and sure enough I did. I don’t know how any of us could
overlook President-Pro Tem Tim Jennings.  Sorry Senator!