by José Varela López

New Mexico Cattle Grower's Association President's Message

Dear Fellow Members & Industry Supporters,

As we embark on this new year, our 101st, which will undoubtedly come with new challenges and opportunities, I wanted to reflect on our first 100 years once more. As an organization, NMCGA owes a deep debt of gratitude to each and every one of you and your families for the part you have played in helping to make the industry that we have today an enduring and irreplaceable part of New Mexico’s history.

Without your commitment to this organization and your grassroots efforts back home it would have been impossible to grow the industry while concurrently protecting our individual businesses, collective rights and interests.

We are also grateful to those individuals, such as our past presidents, boards of directors’, staff and volunteers who have provided the leadership and stability that has made NMCGA the voice of the beef industry and its issues in New Mexico and beyond.

I’d also like to acknowledge those entities like the NM Livestock Board, NM Department of Agriculture, Range Improvement Task Force, Cooperative Extension and others who have helped us with the science, animal health and land management practices that modernized and added value and longevity to our individual businesses.

Hats off to all of you!

Back in November I told you about Senate Bill 776, introduced by New Mexico’s two US Senators, seeking to establish yet another wilderness area in this state, the so-called Columbine-Hondo Wilderness of 45,000 acres in Taos County. Fast forward to mid-December and the proposed wilderness designation became part of the 2015 CRomnibus Appropriations Bill which has now been signed by the President of the United States.

Not only did our senators manage to get their wilderness area added to the appropriations bill, they also managed to circumvent the Valles Caldera National Preserve’s mandate to serve as a working ranch by having the property transferred to the National Park Service. The change in designation and management of both properties have long been on the wish list of many radical environmental groups in New Mexico who have both vocally and quietly sought the removal of cattle from the landscape.

Emboldened by their recent victories in congress and the actions of the federal administration, “Gang Green”, as they are sometimes referred to, is now poised to add another 120,000 acres of wilderness in New Mexico with the assistance of our congressional delegation. The plan is to expand the existing 224,000-acre Pecos Wilderness by designating adjacent lands which will be added from Taos, Mora, San Miguel, Santa Fe and Rio Arriba counties.

As this state’s true land managers we need to re-double our efforts to educate our Washington delegation, and New Mexican’s in general, that the health and beauty of our landscapes is derived from active resource management, not by special designation or theme park status which preserves nothing for the future, because you can’t preserve a landscape without managing it.

In closing, every January brings with it the annual legislative session in the state capital and the multitude of issues that confront us as cattlemen, property owners and New Mexicans. As always, we will have a full contingent of seasoned veterans representing our industry’s interests. President-elect Pat Boone will be leading the charge. If you’d like to help Pat and the team from home we always need folks to read upcoming legislation and make calls to legislators on bills that impact our interests. And you’re always welcome to make the trip to Santa Fe to see how we’re doing and learn the ropes.

Feliz año nuevo, y que Dios los bendiga,

José Varela López