To The Point

It All Adds Up to 100.

A few weeks ago the, before “pink slime” became beef’s black eye of the month, I woke up to a morning news report on recent results of two long-term studies that indicated that if an individual eats meat every day, that person has a 13 percent greater risk of dying.

If that meat is in the form of two (2) slices of bacon AND one hot dog, the risk increases to 21 percent. I had to shake myself to make sure that I wasn’t in the middle of a dumb dream.

Since when did any of us escape a 100 percent certainty that we are ALL going to die?

But it got better. The doctor being interviewed pointed out, without being asked, that the study did not differentiate among several other live-style choices that also increase the risk of mortality — like smoking, drinking, not enough exercise and not eating enough vegetables. So do these studies really mean anything at all?

I was pleased that at the end of the report, the male news anchor noted that people could say what they want — just don’t get between him and steak. The doctor said her teen-age son was of the same opinion.

Whatever happened to recycle, reuse, reduce?

Then comes the slightly messier issue of “pink slime.” I, like most of the rest of civilized world, had no idea what “pink slime” was or is when the term first hit the media. Like other things designed to create hysteria and distrust, there is an accurate definition of the substance being discussed. It is lean, finely textured beef that once was discarded in the process of making hamburger, more accurately known as ground beef.

Discover Magazine recently published an article that looks at both sides of the conversation and ultimately concludes that the ruckus came from the media, and the lean, finely textured beef (aka pink slime) controversy is nothing to be scared about. Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

“What’s more interesting to me — and what hasn’t been covered especially well in the slime stories — is that foods that are ammonia-processed are remarkably widespread. Among them are breads, pastries, cheeses, chocolates, breakfast cereals, sports drinks, fruits, vegetables . . . in other words, if we’re going to worry about chemical processing, beef products need to stand in line.

“Even the consumer-advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest isn’t particularly alarmed about pink slime, noting rather depressingly that a lot worse things go into the daily diet. The center does plan to investigate whether the super-processed beef bits are less nutritious than regular beef.

You can read the full article at: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2012/03/23/it-came-from-the-media-what-prompted-the-ruckus-about-pink-slime-and-is-it-unhealthy/

However, even Discover points to “transparency” as an issue. Why does the label indicate that there is lean, finely textured beef? The American Meat Institute had the best answer to that one I have heard. The label says the product is beef, finely textured beef is beef.

The real issue is that people have too much time on their hands, especially all those 24-hour television news network and bloggers. If people were working for a living they might just be happy with having safe, abundant food to buy. I don’t venture out many places that people don’t ask me why the price of beef is so high. That isn’t a short story either. But the shortest answer is supply and demand.

Lean, finely textured beef helps on the supply end of that equation. Isn’t using every possible piece of a product the right, responsible and just thing to do — especially in today’s “green” economy? If you buy into the whole carbon footprint thing, isn’t this the right thing to do?

But New Mexico Tops Them All

But the national spinners on these issues don’t hold a candle to the fairy tales that sometimes appear in the New Mexico media. But often times they have a little help with mis-information, dis-information or less than half the story.

After Michelle spent the better part of two days sitting in New Mexico Federal District Court, we were more than just a little disappointed to see this headline in the Albuquerque Journal: Judge Finds Discrimination. Then you consider who was quoted in the story and it all makes sense.

Let’s begin with the WHOLE story. With little fanfare, a group of Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, and Washington outfitters, along with one New Mexico outfitter, filed a federal suit that could have virtually eliminated or at least rendered useless the “draw” for wildlife hunts in New Mexico for 2012 and perhaps into the future. The suit (which can be found at www.nmagriculture.org ) filed by Bowles & Crow, an Albuquerque firm, challenged New Mexico state law, specifically the changes that were made during the 2011 Legislature in Senate Bill 196 (SB 196).

The proponents of the measure originally intended to eliminate the small draw pool negotiated by guides and outfitters as well as land owners and others in the 1990s. That pool was provided in exchange for guides and outfitters to be regulated by the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish (NMDGF).

SB 196 was the first step in a move by those camo-clad enviros, the New Mexico Wildlife Federation and bow hunters to gain access to all lands, private and otherwise, for “public” hunters to pursue wildlife wherever it is present. The first step was to eliminate guides and outfitters. Like many pieces of legislation, SB 196 was heavily negotiated, with the guides and outfitters as well as rural communities fighting for their very livelihood. The bill ended up as a compromise with a lot of language that was not supported by many and nobody now wants to take credit for. It certainly didn’t originate from the New Mexico Council of Guides & Outfitters and was opposed by outfitters in general.

SB 196 was couched as a measure that would provide more hunting in New Mexico for New Mexicans. Some of that “only for me” is what is being challenged in this suit under the U.S. Commerce Clause and the Privileges & Immunities Clause of the US Constitution. The language that Judge Christine Armijo found to be unconstitutional was modeled after New Mexico’s preference given to resident contractors. The provision allows for New Mexico residents to receive extra points when contracting bids are scored.

The hunting bill went further than that. It put several requirements in the definition of a New Mexico outfitter including the fact that a “New Mexico outfitter” had to pay property taxes or rent real property within the state, pay gross receipts tax and pay at least one other tax administered by the taxation and revenue department in each of the three years immediately preceding applying for an outfitting license, had either leased property for ten years or purchased property greater than $50,000 in New Mexico and employs at least 80 percent of their total personnel of the business who are New Mexico residents.

The law additionally requires that all antlerless elk hunts pursuant to this section shall be exclusively used for New Mexico residents and that hunts on all state wildlife management areas shall be allocated exclusively to New Mexico residents. As an aside, these are pretty anti statements for a state that claims to be open for business and tourism.

While there are many things that are troubling in the lawsuit, one is the fact that although SB 196 was passed and signed by the Governor in early 2011 and took the force of law in July 2011, the case was not filed until February 2012 — with a motion for a temporary restraining order and injunctive relief. If granted, these motions could have stopped the draw slated for just days after the hearing.

After more than four hours of testimony and two hours of summation, Judge Armijo “granted a very narrowly tailored preliminary injunction requested by a group of about a dozen outfitters who live in Arizona, Wyoming and Washington and bring clients to New Mexico on hunts for elk, bighorn and Barbary sheep, antelope and other species. Armijo said only individuals and not corporations are entitled to the relief,” according to Journal writer Scott Sandlin.

While technically correct, the “Discrimination” headline seems to be just a hair overblown when compared with actual outcome of the hearing and a pretty direct stab at the NMDGF, who were completely pawns in the entire situation. In Mr. Sandlin’s defense, reporters at large papers don’t usually get the luxury of writing their own headlines.

On the other hand, Mr. Sandlin’s story included only comments from the out-of-state outfitters attorney, and, of course, the N.M. Wildlife Federation. The group’s director said he was pleased with the ruling because it maintains the new quota law. He said the real problem is having a special set of licenses for outfitted hunters.

“New Mexico is the only state that gives such preferential treatment to some hunters. The special licenses are a subsidy for the outfitting industry that allows well-heeled hunters to go to the head of the line,” he said.

My first response is that we live in New Mexico because it is unique. If you don’t like it here, there are lots of other places to be. The proper response is that of the attorney representing the Department. “In the real world, he said, 97 percent of all licenses go to hunters who don’t hire outfitters.”

YES! Irene, NM Senate District 39 DOES go nearly to Roswell.

Now that I have your attention, we want to remind you that New Mexico has gone through redistricting and there are lots of changes in store for the 2013 New Mexico Legislature. Many, many of us will have new representation in both the State House and Senate.

There are eight (8) State Senators who have stepped down as well as a big shuffle in the House between those stepping down and those giving up their seats to run for a different office. There will be many “new” faces, and we need to be sure that our faces are not new to them.

Please go to www.nmagriculture.org for a break down for the both the house and senate by district. Please take the time to learn about yours and at least two (2) others. “Learning” means getting to know the candidates, selecting who you want to help get elected and then get to work! Work can be writing checks, knocking on doors, hosting fundraisers, make phone calls, putting up signs, writing letters of support to friends and neighbors . . . maybe even call radio talk shows.

Why should you work in districts other than your own? Because there are more legislators from urban areas as there are from rural areas. Places that we once thought of as rural like Tucumcari and Farmington aren’t necessarily as “rural” as we thought they were. We to be sure that folks understand our importance to our land, our community, our state, and our nation and the world.

If we don’t have legislators from Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Rio Rancho and Las Cruces who know and care about us, we are in for a very rough future.

The good news is that there are several NMCGA members who have put themselves on the line and are running for office. Look those folks up and offer them a hand. They will be voting for you whether you show up or not.

Don’t forget that New Mexico has an open U.S. Senate seat that will be critical to livestock production and agriculture for literally decades to come. And, working across districts applies to congressional races as well.

After distributing all of this information via our email list, we have had several calls telling us that District 39 does not extend to the south central part of the state. Yes it does. District 39 extends from the edge of Las Vegas to Carrizozo. It is new, but it is true!

This isn’t the only district that has seen big change. If you think you live in District 7 or 38, you might look at those maps too.

Finally are you and everyone you know registered to vote? If not, gitr’ done! All elections are important, but this one will be as important as any ever held.

Never too early, too late or too often for thanks.

With so many leaving the Legislature, the agriculture industry was bound to lose supporters. At the top of that list are Senator Clint Harden and Senator Vernon Asbill. We have no idea how much we are going to miss them — and we need to be sure that someone who is just as staunch for our causes replaces them.

In another twist of fate (or politics) in the House we have two of our best who are forced to run against one another in the primary.

Regional Meetings are in the works for April 24, 25 and 26 in Capitan, T or C and Grants. Watch the web and your email for times and locations. If you are not Beef Quality Assurance certified you will have the opportunity to become certified at these meetings.