NMCGA Presidents Letter

by José Varela López

New Mexico Cattle Grower’s Association President’s Message

Dear Fellow Members & Industry Supporters,

June was a very busy month, from folks branding calves in the rain, during what is normally a dry month, while others were keeping their livestock away from lightning caused wildfires a couple of weeks later; our state legislators passing, and the governor signing, a capital outlay bill which will create much needed jobs in the coming months, many weeks after the regular session ended; the President proposing and Congress voting on a number of bills that would set up long-term trade agreements with Pacific Rim nations without allowing those voting on the legislation to have adequate access to the bill language, and much less the American people who are impacted by these acts of law; and then there was the Supreme Court of the United States, making rulings on cases before them which made them look more like activists than constitutional lawyers.

I was honored to be one of the judges at the Youth Ranch Management Camp which was held at the Valles Caldera in the Jemez Mountains. It was a pleasure to watch each presentation, delivered with confidence by Camp participants, who spent the week learning from a team of professionals the various aspects of ranch management including economics, herd health and fertility, range, watershed and wildlife management, among other topics. These teens showed us that given the opportunity, they would be capable of marking their brand on the ranches of tomorrow.

Later in the month we held the Mid Year Cattle Growers’ Meeting in Ruidoso. It was well attended and we had many dynamic speakers who covered various topics of interest to the membership about the ever changing landscape that we must navigate to maintain functioning and profitable businesses. We even found time to enjoy a few laughs. Let us know your thoughts about the Ruidoso meeting, or send us a line to suggest a topic that you’d like to see covered at an upcoming event by emailing nmcga@nmagriculture.org

Near the end of the month we learned that a bill, H.R. 2910, called the “Mexican Wolf Transparency and Accountability Act” co-sponsored by Representatives Pearce (NM) and Gosar (AZ) was introduced. The language may also be attached to the Fiscal Year 2017 Department of Interior Funding Bill This legislation would ensure that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (FWS) January 2015 Rule, implementing new regulations for the non-essential Mexican Wolf population, would be terminated. I for one applaud the congressmen for attempting to bring relief to the rural communities that are dealing with the negative economic and psychological impacts that are part of everyday life in wolf infested areas, and hope this legislation will be a catalyst for requiring the FWS to follow their statutory duty in developing a new recovery plan to guide their future actions regarding the Mexican Wolf.

Around the same time, word came down that New Mexico’s Court of Appeals had ruled with a split opinion, that the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Act which excludes farm and ranch laborers from mandatory coverage was unconstitutional as a state statute. The Court also found that “…the Workers’ Compensation Administration was on notice that the district court in Griego had declared the exclusion to be unconstitutional on March 30, 2012, and did not appeal that ruling”. Therefore, “The Court ruled that its decision will apply to any workers’ claims that were pending…” in 2012 or those filed thereafter. The impacts of this decision haven’t been fully quantified at this time, but I think it’s fair to say that ranches and farms are going to take a significant financial hit as a result of this ruling. New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association will be working diligently in the coming days and weeks to plot a path forward and to find answers to the questions that will surely be posed.

Without a doubt June was a busy month, and a fast trot became a full on gallop there at the end. Hoping you and yours had a blessed and patriotic Independence Day.

Hasta pronto,

José Varela López