To The Point

by Caren Cowan. 

Pigs … not my favorite topic … 

With all due respect to Bob Frost and Franklin Flint, for a wide variety of reasons, I am not much of a pig fan. I didn’t like to have to feed them as a kid and as a 4-H leader I got a whole new perspective.

I have been pig bit, pig run over, pig knocked down, and more that I don’t want to talk about it in polite company. Not only are they hard to rope, but they are pretty easy to rope burn. And have you ever tried to draw blood on one . . . especially a second time?

I do enjoy a bit of sausage with Sunday breakfast or on a pizza once in awhile. Bacon is an absolute necessity for the Tom Perini’s hominy dish in his Texas Cowboy Cooking cookbook that is Michelle’s favorite. However restaurants that are selling out to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) are going to make me a pig advocate — at least an advocate for those restaurants that understand that to feed the world, we cannot revert to pre-20th Century production practices.

The next time you plan an evening out or pop into a drive thru, you might want to research just what kind of management practices those restaurants are requiring to buy pork and chicken products. Not only are these blackmail tactics going drive up the cost of food, but they have the potential to create a shortage of these products.

But feeding the world is not what HSUS and their cronies want. Quite the contrary. The environmentalist/animal rights (don’t doubt that they are one in the same) agenda becomes ever more clear around the world. Lewis Page recently wrote the following in The Register, in the United Kingdom in a story entitled “Only Global Poverty Can Save The Plant Insists WWF.”

“Extremist green campaigning group WWF [World Wildlife Fund] – endorsed by no less a body than the European Space Agency – has stated that economic growth should be abandoned, that citizens of the world’s wealthy nations should prepare for poverty and that all the human race’s energy should be produced as renewable electricity within 38 years from now.”

No doubt we can feed ourselves in the worst case scenario, but can we defend ourselves against those who cannot?

These seem like radical statements . . . and they are. But they are not new. In the early 1990s while working at the Wool Growers’ booth at the State Fair, there was a woman who accosted me in her perfect little black dress, leather shoes and her just right silver pin. She informed me that Americans were spoiled, lived to richly and needed to stop doing terrible things like eating meat, mining exploration and such.

I politely invited her to be the first by giving up her amenities. She declined. While I cannot remember her exact words, Page’s writings brought her immediately to mind . . . 20 years after the fact.

We can produce food without energy, but not in any quantity and we certainly cannot transport it to the urban centers where people cannot grow their own on wind and solar power. These are things to remember when we look at groups where we might have “common ground.”

More about truth and integrity . . .

At the same time the John Edwards’ trial is hitting the media. This man, who thought he had the merit to be the president of our country, is arguing that he wasn’t hiding money from the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) — he was hiding the money to keep his dying wife from finding out he had a hot blonde chick on the side AND fathered a child with her. The 10 Commandments didn’t take into account the FEC, but it sure seems to me that all of the activities are covered in the “thou shall nots.”

Elections. The Next Step

With the primary behind us, it is time to take dead aim at the general election in November. While many of our supporters had primaries for their seats in the State Legislature and that outcome is uncertain, many more have opposition in the general.

If you didn’t get involved in the primary, NOW is the time to get involved in the general. Pick your candidates and get involved in their campaigns. But remember, just getting them elected is not enough. Keeping in touch and continuing to educate is paramount. Just because we elect the right person doesn’t mean that they have the background to make the “right” decision on every issue that comes before them.

All of agriculture was deeply disappointed last month when Governor Susana Martinez wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) asking the agency NOT to grant a license for a horse processing plant in Roswell. The decision to write such a letter is disturbing on so many levels. How can a conservative ask government NOT to allow a small business producing jobs in a rural community? What role does the State even play in such a decision?

The “companion animal” language used by the Governor as well as the Commissioner of Public Lands and the Attorney General is simply wrong and plays into the animal rightist/environmentalist agenda. Domestic animals, be they dogs, cats, horses, pot bellied pigs, or whatever are private property. Yes, many times these animals are our companions, but they cannot survive without human care and it is humans that must make the tough decisions regarding their well being on this Earth and beyond.

But the worst part of opposing humane horse euthanasia is the terrible end of life horses are being sentenced to. The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA), the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau (NMFLB) and others provided all the reasons to the Governor’s office that were covered in the Stockman last month. These groups asked for the opportunity to work with the Governor to develop a strategy for the end of life of literally thousands of unwanted horses in New Mexico. They hope that the subject is not closed and work can be done to benefit the animals.

Penn Play, Pits and Fracking

Word from Shell is that there is a new natural gas “play” in northeastern New Mexico that has been named the Penn Play. The company is letting landowners and managers know that they will be knocking on their doors in the near future to gain permission to access that natural gas. The inference is that there will be dollars attached to these wells. And that is correct, but landowners need to beware that there is a lot more than dollars that are headed that way.

In 2007 the NMCGA and others succeeded in passing the strongest Surface Owner Protection Act (SOPA) in the country at that time. It took years to get this law in place and some pretty venomous committee and floor battles. The law isn’t perfect, but it does provide the structure for oil and gas companies to enter into a surface owner agreement prior to exploration. In the worst case scenario, if an agreement cannot be reached, companies can bond on to a site. But they must make every attempt to reach an agreement before that step can be taken.

If you are part of the Penn Play, any other new exploration or an area that is to be fracked where there is no agreement in place, be sure that you have a strong surface owner agreement. These agreements may be different for every landowner, but should at a minimum cover water quality protection including pits.

The best advice that can be offered is to require that there be water quality data, including depth to the water, prior to any surface disturbance. At the end of the project, water quality should be retested. If there is a negative change, the liability of such change should be addressed within the agreement.

Soon after the passing of the SOPA Governor Richardson convened what was at least the third Pit Rule Task Force to develop regulations to address the pits that accompany drilling operations. NMCGA had three representatives on the Task Force, that included oil and gas industry participants as well as environmental groups and private citizens, who spent literally months developing a compromise draft that was submitted to the Oil Conservation Commission. In 2008 the Commission adopted a rule that was mostly what had been recommended.

After less than four years, the oil and gas industry petitioned the Commission to amend the rule. The proposed amendment is long and complicated, as was the original rule.

From the NMCGA perspective there are five (5) issues of concern:

  • Defining of a “low chloride fluid” as something containing 15,000 mg/liter . . . the previous definition was 3,000 mg/liter. This is an increase of 200 percent
  • Allowing pit contents to be buried on site . . . without capping the contents with a liner
  • Allowing pits to be put in place where the depth of ground water is 25 feet or greater (up from 50 to 100)
  • Allowing pits to be sited within 100 feet of existing houses, wells, livestock watering facilities, watercourses (up from 300 to 500 feet)
  • The use of modeling for water data rather than site specific data

Further, there is no consideration of the cumulative impacts of putting all of these actions.

The hearing on the proposal was continued in May until June 20, 2012 in Santa Fe. Written comments on the proposal will be accepted until June 15 and public testimony is taken every day at the hearing just prior to noon and just before closing. For the text of the proposal, please visit .

NMCGA has been working with the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association and will continue to do so. But regardless, your surface owner agreement is the best protection you can have if the oil or gas man comes knocking on your door.

Mid-Year Just Around the Corner

The room block at the Inn of the Mountain Gods has closed, but if you didn’t get a room, please contact the NMCGA office at 505/247-0584. You still have time to get your registration forms in . . . so do it now!

This will be the largest summer gathering of agriculture in recent times and is sure to have something happening that will interest you.


Things to remember:

  • If you are not an NMCGA member or know someone who isn’t, you can join today at or by calling 505/247-0584. Please join today!