To The Point

That Party.

For various reasons, none of them very worthy, I haven’t made good on my idea to set up that bank account in Douglas for Margaret Haas, and to create a party fund so that we could come together for something other than a funeral.

While we have all had more than our share of those sad events in the past few months, fortunately the brighter need was addressed as well.

The end of July cousin Roland Snure M.D., Silver City, filled the need with the celebration of his mother’s birthday. I don’t know what the exact day of Fran Whatley’s (Snure) birth is, and we will not discuss the year, but she will remember the celebration in 2011 for a long time to come.

Gathering nearly 200 people from three nations and numerous states in Tucson was the least of the fete Dr. Snure accomplished. He did it all AND made the party a surprise. To say that a good time by all was an understatement.

The statement the gathering made about our families and the people we live and work with everyday was monumental. As I looked around the room, there were at least three tables with three generations of family enjoying the music and food. There were at least another three tables that contained two generations. The Delk Bank had two generations on stage and least two bygone generations of my family danced many nights away to Forest Delk, the first generation that I know about of the same family band.

It is this kind of family commitment that makes life worth living — and the fight to keep ranchers on the land worth fighting.

Parent-Guardians

As if Forest Guardians and WildEarth Guardians weren’t enough, now we have parent-guardians. We were introduced to this new group of people one morning during the 2011 Legislature in Santa Fe. The subject of the bill was rabies vaccines and whether or not it should be embedded in law that some companion animals should be exempted from the law that all dogs and cats should be vaccinated.

I can hardly deny that there are few more devoted to their dogs than I am . . . or at least I thought so until that meeting. I am well aware that while I have the moral and ethical responsibility to care for my animals, I am not a dog’s parent nor I am around merely to be a guardian. Animals are property that man (or human to be more politically correct) has dominion over.

You can imagine my surprise and the look on the legislative committee members’ faces as the proponent of the bill constantly referred to herself as the “parent-guardian” of her cat(s). If anyone thinks the animal rights movement is not deeply ingrained in New Mexico, you had better think again and take a deep seat as the struggle continues.

By the way, the bill stalled in the House Agriculture & Water Committee. Turns out that veterinarians already have the ability to decide whether or not an animal is healthy enough to receive treatments and the risk of unvaccinated animals to public is huge. It is worth noting that there has been rabies out breaks (real outbreaks) in New Mexico and neighboring states. In the Southwest the disease has been rampant in foxes. In the Southeast it has been skunks. Rabies has been transmitted to livestock in both of these areas.

I say “real outbreaks” because the use, or rather misuse, of the term, especially by the popular media. We had a BSE outbreak in the US when the disease was diagnosed in a single animal. We had a TB outbreak with the diagnosis of two animals. When I was learning the use of the English language, words like “outbreak” were reserved for when many animals like tens or hundreds came down with a disease.

The Chicken & The Egg

The United Egg Producers (UEP) didn’t do anybody — even themselves — a favor when they recently agreed to join with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to go to Congress for legislation to govern egg production. I realize that this is a free country and it is UEP’s right to make such a decision . . . but it is equally the right of the rest of us to call it as we see it. Those defending UEP’s unholy alliance claim that it was a well-thought out decision . . . that it would keep there from being more attacks and ballot initiatives. At least from the outside looking in, it appears that UEP could have done what they must feel they need to in Congress without HSUS’s participation.

It seems to me that this deal with the devil would make it nearly impossible for UEP to work with the rest of the industry on anything. When you sleep with the enemy, your friends don’t generally want climb into bed, too.

The Mother of Alliances

Over the past few months you may have seen some media on the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA). This is a new group that has come together to put the face of the rancher and farmer back on food production. According to their website at http://usfraonline.org , their mission is to:

• Enhance consumer trust in the U.S. food production system. We want consumers to know that America’s farmers and ranchers share their values. We are committed to answering Americans’ questions about how we raise our food — while being stewards of the environment, responsibly caring for our animals and maintaining strong businesses and communities.

• Maintain and enhance the freedom of U.S. farmers and ranchers to operate in a responsible manner. In particular, the campaign will emphasize farmers’ and ranchers’ dedication to continuous improvement of how our food is raised to meet growing demands.

• Strengthen collaboration within the food production, processing and distribution systems to lead the discussion and to share information about our food supply and industry more effectively with Americans.

I guess I should say this is your mission. The beef industry has committed $350,000, with $300,000 coming from beef checkoff dollars. The Alliance has outlined six steps they intend to take to accomplish their mission. The first is to engage farmers and ranchers, and you are encouraged to go on line to learn more about the effort including participating in a survey.

The Alliance is made up of numerous organizations including the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, American Farm Bureau Federation and many other industry organizations. The hope is that over time the companies that are supported by the industry or the industry that use our products will step up to the plate and contribute to make the campaign work. The current budget is about $10 million with the hope of a $20 million budget in the near future.

All of this sounds peachy and I hope that it is, but the skeptic in me is poking. The premise of the group is “to put aside the things that we might disagree about and focus on what we agree upon.” Given that UEP is involved in the Alliance I am just not really sure that means.

The best I can do is my interaction with the Sierra Club in New Mexico. Their lobbyist is a pretty nice guy that I enjoy knowing. A few years ago he really tried to work with us on strengthening our state’s trespass laws to help out landowners. Not only did we not get the bill passed, he took a pretty ugly beating from his counterparts in the “environmental” community.

He also supported the Surface Owner Protection Act that we finally got passed in 2007. Several others of his ilk did the same and I took some grief over that. At one regional meeting this gentleman and I ended up sitting next to one another. I guess it didn’t do much for either one of our reputations.

I was operating on the premise that “let’s work on what we can agree on.” A former member took exception to that sentiment. One of the Sierra Club’s biggest goals is to removing grazing from “public” land. Our former member asked how I could work with the Sierra Club when one of their missions was to remove a good portion of our members from our land. Good question.

I called my friend at the Sierra Club and asked him the same question. It took a few days but he eventually called me back, said he understood the perspective, that the mission of the Sierra Club wasn’t going to change and that we wouldn’t be working together again in the future. I still like and respect the guy even if I don’t agree with him.

But the moral of story is that if we are mostly singing from the same page, how can we work together on anything? If UEP will cut a deal with HSUS, who else will they cut a deal with? If HSUS isn’t the biggest enemy the food and animal production industry, who is?

Then There Are the Government Entities . . .

For a variety of reasons, we in the West deal with the Department of the Interior (DOI) and many of its’ agencies on an almost daily basis. Some of those interactions are better than others, but like the Sierra Club, there are good people there, too. However the DOI has recently released a report that really makes one wonder why we would ever want to work the Department.

Entitled “THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR’S ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTIONS June 21, 2011,” the 146-page report can be located on the web at: http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/upload/DOI-Econ-Report-6-21-2011.pdf

But you should have a hefty dose of anti-depressants and/or adult beverage before you start reading. The Executive Summary states:

“The Department of the Interior plays a substantial role in the U.S. economy, supporting over two million jobs and approximately $363 billion in economic activity for 2010. American citizens and industry, at work and at play, all benefit from Interior’s natural and cultural resource management: maintaining lands for recreation, protecting cultural and historical resources, storing and conveying water, generating power, leasing mineral rights, and providing valuable information to mineral markets.”

You will be shocked to learn that grazing has virtually no part of that economic activity. Although New Mexican beef ranchers produce enough beef for well over five million people a year, according to the DOI, the off-shoring minerals produce more jobs in the state than does grazing. For entire state of California and their tens of thousands of head of livestock, grazing produces only 34 jobs annually.

Although grazing is administered on more than 64 percent of lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the DOI says that land acquisition creates more jobs than grazing. Just buying up land creates 3,000 jobs. Unfortunately the report didn’t bother to calculate how many jobs were lost when the government “acquires” land.

As it was probably intended, this report has already provided fodder for the anti-grazing groups who are sending out press releases saying they have been right all along in trying to completely get rid of us.

The report said nothing about the amount of money the DOI pays these groups to continue their cultural genocide.

This is just one of the many issues everyone should discuss with the Congressional Delegation while they are home for the August recess as well as with the many candidates who have already announced for the U.S. Senate and for Congressional District 1 seats in the 2012 election.

Trapping Prevails . . . For Now

Thanks to the New Mexico Game Commission for resisting the media, email and letter writing blitz to ban trapping in the state. Given all their noise, not a single person who opposed trapping could find their way to Clayton to participate in the meeting. Because Clayton is “inaccessible” they will be taking their fight to the Legislature.

Because there is virtually no proof that trapping has had any impact on the failure of the Mexican wolf reintroduction program, the Commission also lifted the trapping ban in the Gila National Forest. The WildEarth Guardians are already petitioning federal agencies in an attempt to end trapping and the Great Old Broads For Wilderness are pressuring the Legislature to mandate that the Game Department participate in the wolf program.

Still months away, the 2012 Legislature promises to be an interesting one, and one where we will need all your help to protect our own.