by José Varela López

New Mexico Cattle Grower's Association President's Message

Dear Fellow Members & Industry Supporters,

In a letter dated July 20, 1794 President Washington wrote: “I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman’s cares.”

Obviously President Washington’s words have been borne out over these past centuries as all of American agriculture has continued to evolve into a very efficient and productive industry that utilizes science to make meaningful improvements year after year. It’s quite a task to feed the world, but that’s what we do.

In New Mexico the livestock industry accounted for over S1.7 billion dollars in cash receipts in 2012, and all of agriculture in the state accumulated almost $4 billion in cash receipts that same year. That’s mighty impressive when you take into account our high desert climate and the variability of soils and annual precipitation. But we make it work, all of us. All of that great continuum that comprises agriculture in New Mexico, from the traditional family that grows fruits and vegetables to sell at the local farmers’ market to the rancher that grows enough beef to feed tens of thousands of people. From the chile, corn, onion, wheat, alfalfa or peanut farmer whose crops move along the supply chain to be sold in stores and shops as feed or value added products, to the organic or natural products that appear on the menus of local restaurants. The pecan orchards, dairies, cheese factories, honey producers, herb growers and backyard chicken and egg producers are part of that continuum as well, all producing products that fill a need in the consumer marketplace.

So at this point you’re probably asking why I spent so much space stating the obvious. The answer, plain and simple, is that there are those in agriculture who believe that their path to success is achieved by tearing down or disassociating themselves with the other parts of agriculture that they dont identify with. What’s more disturbing is that they invite other uninformed voices along for the ride, unwittingly paving the path toward their own demise.

The fact of the matter is that we all have an important role to play along that wide spectrum that defines agriculture, both in New Mexico and beyond, and it’s our job to recognize that.

Last month I addressed the issue of the proposed “2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans” and how the advisory committee was leaning away from recommending animal based foods as part of a healthy diet. It’s now more than a proposal. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) has made the report official by having it published in the Federal Register. As expected, the DGAC suggests that Americans should eat less red meat among other recommendations that defy any scientific rationale. If you’d like to provide comments, and you should, they are being accepted through April 8th. Please go to health.gov to read the full “scientific” report and submit your comments.

Next month’s column will be penned by President-elect Pat Boone as the dust settles from this year’s 60-day legislative session, followed by past president Bert Ancell doing some writing in May.

I look forward to seeing everyone in Ruidoso for the Mid-Year meeting, June 14-16. Be on the lookout for the early bird registration form and meeting schedule. It’s going to be a fun and informative event.  

Hasta pronto,

José Varela López