NMCGA Presidents Letter

by Pat Boone

New Mexico Cattle Grower’s Association President’s Message

Dear Fellow Members & Industry Supporters,

The month of April has come and gone without any appreciable moisture that I’m aware of, but I certainly hope that someone out there received some precipitation. In the miles I logged this past month I don’t recall seeing any green-up although it was good to see plenty of last fall’s grasses nearly everywhere I went.

As is normally the case these days our industry faces many challenges. What I found to be interesting though is the paradoxical nature of a great number of things we need to deal with. For instance, cattle prices are at all time highs but many of us were forced to sell off part if not all of our animals in the last few years because of the prolonged drought. At the same time, with cattle prices so high it’s nearly impossible to re-stock the herd.

Then there’s the issue of the lesser prairie chicken. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, along with its sister agencies in Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and Kansas took the lead in an unprecedented effort to create a range-wide management plan in the hopes of enhancing habitat for the bird and to avert a listing by the Fish and Wildlife Service which would negatively impact not only many of our members, but other industries of major importance to New Mexico and the other states mentioned. Instead, the Fish and Wildlife Service listed the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species and also accepted the multi-state management plan. This takes the cooperative and voluntary effort and makes it a regulatory and sometimes adversarial action, even though the agency thinks it’s a good idea.

As you’ll recall, the Fish and Wildlife Service has also published a Draft Environmental Impact Statement regarding the Mexican Gray Wolf, the purpose of which is to propose population increases, expand its range and make the species fully endangered in New Mexico and Arizona. The problem is that there is no sound science presented in the document to confirm the effect on cattle and elk, nor that the wolf is different from its cousins to the north.

There are also a couple of water issues that come to mind. The Environmental Protection Agency is currently proposing changes to the Clean Water Act which from all appearances would give that agency regulatory oversight over basically any and all waters in the United States, including folks with Koi ponds and rain created puddles on their properties. The Environmental Protection Agency also says that agriculture is exempt, but I haven’t read the nearly 400 page document to verify that for myself.

The other water issue of importance is the recent opinion issued by our state’s attorney general which states that anglers can fish in streams that traverse private property as long as there is no trespass on the private land adjoining the stream. I’ve never been accused of being the sharpest tool in the shed but it occurs to me that if you’re wading in the stream your feet are touching the streambed below, which happens to be private property, so isn’t that trespass?

And finally there’s the Cliven Bundy situation in Nevada. I don’t pretend to understand the entire sequence of events that led the Bureau of Land Management to attempt a roundup of Mr. Bundy’s cattle but I did find it very disconcerting to see a government agency allow the wanton killing and burying cattle while its own agents acted in paramilitary fashion to intimidate the free speech rights of many Americans.

Unfortunately, there are other issues on the table as well, issues which we will be discussing and seeking to resolve at the mid-year convention on June 8-10. I really hope you’ll join the greater agricultural community in Las Cruces next month to give your input on the solutions necessary for us to maintain a vibrant industry in New Mexico, one that continues to feed all our families and millions of others.

Until next month in Las Cruces…

Sincerely,

José J. Varela López