To The Point

by Caren Cowan

News Flash!

Burning trees in the forest cause smoke . . . lots of smoke. That smoke may contribute to “global warming”, according to a TV news anchor in Albuquerque. She went on to say that “scientists” are also finding that “global warming” is causing trees to die faster. Ya think? When you are burning millions of them every year they are probably dying faster.

But there are so many other issues with this “news” report. Hasn’t anyone told them that it is politically incorrect to refer to “global warming?” The current correct-speech is “climate change.” But even that term is apparently on its way out.

The Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club recently referred to something called “climate disruption.”

I don’t spend a lot of time pondering things I just don’t believe in – those global/climate/disruption folks call me a “denier.” I prefer to think of myself as a realist who is constantly in awe of Mother Nature and the power of our maker.

Of course the climate changes. It is changing constantly and will continue to do so no matter what mere man does.

Who is to say that the extreme overgrowth of trees in the forest isn’t changing the climate within the forest? We know that fires create their own weather. The more trees the hotter the fire and the more damage to everything in the air, on the ground – including water and wildlife.

Fire in and of itself isn’t a bad thing for the land. The fact that man has created an overload of fuels that allow for the carbonizing fires the West is suffering is a bad thing. So I guess from that perspective man has had an impact on climate – but it isn’t because man did something. It is because he didn’t.

Nearly 20 years ago I first learned that we were on a collision course to the catastrophe that we are witnessing today. We were told that unless there was a change in forest management practices, we could expect exactly what we have seen over the past two decades. Fire went from a few thousand acres to tens of thousands of acres and now to hundreds of thousands of acres. With those acres are going precious wildlife, homes, water quality and human life.

The loss of 19 elite fire fighters last month underscores the need for the public to stand up and say NO MORE. How much longer are we going to let our families and our land be devastated by agenda driven zealots who are succeeding in destroying everything in their path? And, don’t overlook the fact the federal government is paying them to do it.

Meanwhile back at the ranch…

We are losing own freedom fighters. It is amazing how fast a person can become ingrained in your life. When I interviewed for the job with the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association in early 1997, I didn’t even know who Jimmy Bason was. Oh, how that was to change.

During the interview gauntlet I soon learned that for whatever reason, Jimmy was a champion for me. He was on the search committee so that was huge. Rumor has it that he even turned down an invitation to the “other” room to discuss his vote.

During his years as president-elect Jimmy’s “privacy issues” began to surface. I soon learned that there were a lot of things he just didn’t think were any of my business. I often disagreed. His love of the practical joke also became apparent.

One of his favorite tricks during the two Legislatures we worked together was to leave my cell phone or pager number on the back of his card during his nighttime excursions. I learned not to return a page unless I was pretty sure who I was calling.

Jimmy also had a slightly different approach to travel and outreach. My first full two years was with Bob Frost. Bob and Jane and I covered lots of miles, but the routine was fairly standard. You got up early in the morning, worked at a fair clip all day, and by about 9:00 p.m. the day came to a close.

Not so with Jimmy. When traveling with Bason, there was no need to rise early and there was usually time for an afternoon nap. But you better be ready to dance until the band quit playing.

Jimmy never let the social issues of the day curb his tongue. At one point during his presidency Jimmy was concerned that I was working too much. I didn’t disagree, but when there are so many needs, how do you determine who you are not going to help? One night at dinner the topic of conversation came up.

He looked at me awhile and finally said, “It’s a wonder you don’t have a house full of kids.”

That went right over my head. He finally said, “You have never learned the word NO.” I think he got a lecture from a past president over the meaning of sexual harassment.

I almost got even once. Randy, Callie and I were out to dinner in Albuquerque. Lo and behold, in walks Jimmy with a date. This was pre-Pattilu. He didn’t see us and was seated in another part of the restaurant. I begged Callie to run to his table and say, “Daddy, Daddy, Momma and the kids really need you. Won’t you please come home?”

She, probably wisely, refused, but we did stop by his table before leaving. He was none too pleased to see us. It was about that time that he began to accuse me of having a tracking chip on him.

Fun was a definite part of Bason’s persona. But it wasn’t that that made him larger than life. It was his firm grasp of right and wrong along with his willingness to go to the mat every time for anyone who needed it. He was smarter than most people and definitely more cunning than just about anybody.

Jimmy was a strong believer in alliances. During his tenure as NMCGA president he traveled to all of our neighboring states including Chihuahua. He couldn’t have been prouder when the presidents of those state organizations came to the Joint Stockmen’s Convention.

But he often did his best work alone. One of his stealth missions was the passage of the “Get Ted & Jane” bill. That wasn’t his title, but the measure was aptly named by a member of the Governor’s staff.

The bill allows the state of New Mexico to tax the value of severed development rights for conservation easements. The measure could be a valuable revenue generator for local governments if they ever choose to enforce it.

Despite the liberal bend of the New Mexico Legislature, the bill sailed through. That fact that he had Senator John Arthur Smith carry it didn’t hurt anything. Governor Gary Johnson signed the bill.

Jimmy had a love of history and the need to preserve it. Those piles of paper throughout the ranch house were deeply significant. Pattilu was able to contain them to a room or two, but they were there nonetheless.

Many of his stories have been memorialized forever by his great friend and prolific author Max Evans. There is a new book coming out that we all need a copy of in Jimmy’s honor.

I could go on, but if you knew Jimmy, you know the stories. If you didn’t, you missed a great man. Jimmy has left a tremendous legacy . . . and a big hole in mine and many other lives.

Special Thanks . . .

Among those piles Jimmy was so fond of, someplace there is his DD214 (honorable discharge paper) from the U.S. Air Force. As plans were being made for the celebration of his life, there was a need for that single piece of paper. It was not to be found.

After hours and hours of searching Pattilu and Brent went through the channels necessary to obtain an emergency copy. That involves the government, so you can imagine how well that worked out.

Congressman Steve Pearce and his staff were put on the problem. In much less than 24 hours, the necessary paper appeared. Jimmy had lots of friends in high places.

We all appreciate the swift action of the Congressman and his state and Washington, D.C. staff. It means the world in honoring every facet of Jimmy R. Bason.

Tied Hard & Fast

One of Jimmy’s tests of how good a cowboy and friend you might be was based on how you roped. If you tied hard and fast, you were a keeper. It was Jimmy’s theory that if you were a dally roper, you might not be there when times get tough.

It appears that the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is made of up those who dally rope . . . or maybe bull riders who have only hang tough for eight seconds.

It was extremely disappointing to learn last month that the NCBA Executive Committee voted to eliminate the growing junior programs that were initiated in 2008. Despite the fact that the programs were fully funded by Farm Credit, NCBA determined that they had to prioritize – involving the youth that one would hope will be soon taking the reins of our industry isn’t a major priority today.

The plot got thicker when we learned that NCBA has initiated the first round of another rifting of employees. The need for this is blamed on the decrease in the nation’s cowherd and the reduction of checkoff dollars. Before you start screaming “I knew it. They are spending checkoff dollars!” read the rest of the story. NCBA is the major contractor to create and execute checkoff programs in research, education and marketing. Many investigations support the fact that checkoff dollars are not used in policy matters.

That all makes sense, but it hasn’t been all that long since NCBA eliminated a chunk of employees. Perhaps if the organization was able to interest even a fraction of the nation’s ranchers and farmers in membership the story would be different.

And other ugly stories

New Mexico and the nation were shocked in late May when the New Mexico Livestock Board was forced to seize around 1,000 starving cows from an eastern New Mexico ranch. New Mexico’s livestock industry has come together to support the Livestock Board for their actions.

There are lots of theories out there about what happened, but the fact is that the Livestock Board worked with the ranch owner for some time before the search warrant and seizure occurred to no avail. He simply refused to feed the animals. It doesn’t appear that financial resources were the issue.

The Livestock Board does not have the power to issue a search warrant or a seizure warrant. These warrants are issued by the local district attorney. The DA involved in this case served the search warrant requesting that the Livestock Board accompany him.

As the law enforcement charged with the protection of livestock and livestock production in New Mexico, the Livestock Board had the duty to execute both warrants as directed by the DA.

There is no doubt that they entire situation was distasteful and hard on everyone involved. There are many who are still deeply concerned with the entire action.

On that, there are two points I would like to make. First, if you do things right, you needn’t be in fear of the law. That was a lesson I was taught from an early age. I grant that in today’s “big brother” environment, that premise may not hold as true as it did when my father was teaching me morals and ethics.

Second, does anyone remember all those animal cruelty bills we fought off during the 2013 Legislature? How do you suppose this case might have been handled if the Livestock Board wasn’t in place?

We have long been a proud and independent breed who brooks no interference from outsiders. This is 2013. Communication is instantaneous, there are 24-hour news cycles that are hungry for something they can blow out of proportion, and we are not islands anymore. If we as an industry don’t keep our house clean, someone else will do it for us. n