by José Varela López

New Mexico Cattle Grower's Association President's Message

Dear Fellow Members & Industry Supporters,

You would think that the federal government, with all of its taxpayer funded resources, would be at the forefront in utilizing science to justify their proposed actions. But you’d be wrong. Apparently the same lack of science that has empowered many agencies such as the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to list numerous animal and plant species as threatened and endangered, or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to declare that global warming is definitively caused by human activities has now permeated the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the form of the proposed “2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans”.

While the federal advisory committee that’s convened every five years is supposed to provide independent science-based recommendations for updating the guidelines it’s apparent that science has nothing to do with the committee’s draft recommendations. Instead, the committee has decided to use their personal opinions in stating that a plant-based food diet is “more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact than is the current average US diet”, which includes animal-based foods. Really?

In my opinion, the committee needs to schedule a fieldtrip to New Mexico to get educated by our New Mexico CowBelles, an organization that has made a difference in our state as passionate and dedicated beef supporters for the last 58 years. These ladies know “the nutrition of beef and how well ranchers take care of their cattle and land”, and that’s based on science, not conjecture. If the committee actually cared about science to drive their dietary guidelines they would have discovered that they need to turn the “food pyramid” on its head. Science shows that increased carbohydrates are bad for our health, not beef.

So, where’s the beef? I just received a letter from the Santa Fe County Assessor telling me that his staff had recently “viewed” our property and determined that their “site visit reveals that agricultural use has been abandoned for an excessive number of years.” The letter also states that the “statutes and regulations under which this determination was made are included herein”, although they were not. Either way, I know what happened because I noticed some vehicle tracks at the ranch entrance gate.

Obviously the assessor’s office sent someone out to determine agricultural use, and reminiscent of a previous experience, the employee came to the ranch address, saw no signs of cattle at the gate and summarily determined that the property was “nonagricultural”. So, I guess I’ll be headed to town soon to provide the County with photos and documents, many of which are already in their database, to prove that cattle don’t graze at the ranch gate but actually require greater expanses of land to fulfill their nutritional needs.  Maybe they should have read their own “Agricultural Land Application” form before making their uninformed determination. The form states that the property must be a minimum of 50 acres in the northern part of the county and 80 acres in the southern part to be eligible for grazing. Multiply that by the number of cattle and hilly treed terrain and it becomes obvious that you can see very much by standing in front of someone’s gate. Anyway, I know that I’ll have to extend an invitation for them to come and check out the cows and take a few pictures of their own. I have to ask myself if it’s any wonder why Santa Fe County is perennially near the bottom of the statewide agricultural production ranking. Obviously they’re not very friendly to agriculture and my assumption is that they know little if anything about the history or workings of the livestock industry in the county they’ve sworn to serve.

The next NMCGA Board of Directors meeting will be held in Santa Fe on February 16th and 17th at the Hotel Santa Fe. All members are welcome to attend the board meetings, so please let us know if you’ll be able to join us. Your trip to Santa Fe is sure to be informative, if not exciting.

So, until next time, baffle them with science and keep a fresh supply of cow patties on the ranch.

Hasta pronto,

José Varela López