NMCGA Presidents Letter

by Pat Boone

New Mexico Cattle Grower’s Association President’s Message

Dear Fellow Members & Industry Supporters,

It seems to me that the assault on agriculture in New Mexico has reached an unprecedented level in the last few years, much of which revolves around the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, etc., but sometimes also comes from the agencies that we normally think of as supporters. I’ve been following a few of these evolving issues.

On the radical environmentalist front, a multitude of animal species are being listed as threatened or endangered due to a settlement agreement that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service made with these radical groups in response to a lawsuit which said that the Fish and Wildlife Service was dragging its feet on the listing of hundreds of candidate species.

One of those species, just listed as endangered, is the New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse. As I reported last month, the US Forest Service was blocking access to livestock water on the Lincoln National Forest that Forest Service didn’t have any rights to. Now, the Forest Service is planning to do the same thing on the Santa Fe National Forest, where once again the Forest Service does not own the water. All in the name of trying to create habitat for the Meadow Jumping Mouse, which was listed as a result of what I’ll call “thin science”, by using someone else’s water. But most egregiously, the Forest Service is going to undertake this fencing exclosure without any public process, disallowing those whose rights are being trampled upon the right to protest the action, without having to litigate against their government.

Another case is that of the Mexican Gray Wolf. I saw a posting on a social media site recently which pointed to a Fish and Wildlife Service document contemplating the release of two pairs of wolves on the Vermejo Ranch in northern New Mexico. I don’t recall such an action having been contemplated in the recent Fish and Wildlife Service Draft Environmental Impact Statement Recovery Plan for the wolf. How are people supposed to share their concerns if there is no process by which they are afforded a voice?

And then we have the “where’s the beef from” issue. A complaint was lodged recently with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack decrying the use of beef checkoff dollars to promote what’s being called “North American Beef”. I’m not sure if this new phrase has anything to do with the fallout from the COOL (Country of Origin Labeling) battle, or if it’s meant to supplant our current labeling, but it bothers me that our money is being spent to promote something other than “US Beef”. I’m not sure where you stand on this new term but I think it flies in the face of our collective efforts and monetary contributions over the decades to distinguish “US Beef” as a preferred product worldwide. Let me know what your thoughts are on this issue by emailing nmcga@nmagriculture.org

So what I find interesting is that the federal government, through its agencies, shows a wanton disregard for the rights of rural New Mexicans, both directly and indirectly, because they fear the environmentalists’ lawsuits more than they care about protecting the rights of people who are trying to make a living, being stewards of the land and producing food for at least 100 other people all at the same time. What a shame.

In closing, I’m glad to say that our Mid-Year meeting in Las Cruces last month with New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau was a great success, with very informative speakers and lots of members.  Thanks for being there.

Let’s all pray that we’re rolling in the rain by this time next month.

Hasta Pronto

José Varela López