To The Point

by Caren Cowan

So much material ... so little time

No matter what happens, the New Mexico Legislature always provides a lot of work, food for thought, high blood pressure and entertainment. Back in the olden days one of my favorite things to do was buy a Bill Locater and make fun of the names some bills got. As a disclaimer, it was never my intention to bully the bill drafters and I hope it was never considered as such.

This year it is the outrageous statements that are being made in committee hearings that are providing the comedy. I must admit that at the time they are made, they may not be all that amusing. The shame is that these remarks are being made, most of the time, in small rooms that aren’t even half full. The video streaming at the Capitol is not archived… and I am generally too dumb-founded to tape it on my phone.

The abuse we took during the anti-coyote calling contest hearings was expected and nothing worse than we have withstood in the past. I will tell you that there is nothing funny about being called serial child killers. Clearly none of these folks have ever seen the results of a coyote attack, nor have they lost a treasured pet.

Particularly amusing was the mental giant Oklahoma transplant sans boots and hat who claimed to come from a farming and ranching background. He stated that Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers would be appalled at coyote calling contests and admonished New Mexicans who supported the art and sport of coyote calling. A simple Google search would have informed him that there are numerous coyote calling contests in his home state of Oklahoma. One might guess he is married to the disciple of the WildEarth Guardians who told us in one of these hearings a few years back that eating beef was over. Just after she testified that her Santa Fe lifestyle is made possible by oil and gas production and ranching in Oklahoma.

Those who have long stood against this concept cannot thank folks from across New Mexico who showed up to oppose the coyote calling contest bill and the anti-trapping bill. It was one of the worst days in a long time for travel and the level of commitment from those who live and work the land, young and old, was tremendous.

The sheer volume of mis-information that was spouted during the anti-trapping hearing was overwhelming. Everyone who ever had a dog caught in a leg-hold trap in New Mexico must have been there. What they didn’t seem to know is that trapping rules under the Department of Game & Fish changed five years ago. But of course the momentum of even a single hearing on this bill will now be used in an effort to further undermine trapping via the New Mexico State Game Commission.

It was clear that the folks in support of eliminating trapping AND the commerce of all fur in New Mexico don’t want to take responsibility for their own actions and their own animals. One trapping advocate did a masterful job in explaining to those assembled the meaning of “multiple use.” It means that there are many uses of the land…not just one. It is a message that most of the urban public totally doesn’t get.

Fortunately, this time the outcome was a good one with a bi-partisan vote of 7 to 2 tabling both of these bills. At press time the jury was still out on some others.

The concept of returning to the state the bountiful natural resources currently under control of the federal government has been another interesting bill to sit through. The bill merely creates a commission to study the feasibility of state control of current “federal” lands. Apparently information is a bad thing…

One opponent of the bill had the nerve to ask, “Do we really want to have this conversation?” Isn’t conversation what a study is about??? But he got worse when he pulled out the race card and tried to say that the study commission would infringe on the rights of native New Mexican cultures.

There were several Native Americans who opposed the bill. One of them was particularly eloquent as he talked of the exploitation of tribal and pueblo people. He noted that “exploring” leads to “exploitation.” I don’t disagree with him, but I wish these folks could sit down and understand the intent of the legislation. There has been so much mis-information distributed by those enviro-in-camo groups that is difficult for anyone to shift the truth out of the pure bs. There may be downsides for Native American folks. If there are, let’s figure out what they are and see if there are solutions.

To hear some tell it, the intent is to make all federal lands private and drive everyone from the land. If that is what a commission comes up with, then there will be a lot of folks who oppose it. There is the misconception that hunters will be denied access.

Even after Commissioner of Public Lands Aubrey Dunn testified that he didn’t believe that federal lands could or should become State Trust Lands, there were those who stood up and claimed that this was all a guise to make federal lands State Lands.

It is difficult to understand that these antis would rather see our forests burn, destroying the land and its creatures as well as watersheds and water for the entire state.

But perhaps my favorite testimony was that of Animal Protection Voters of New Mexico. They got up and testified that it was okay for animal abuse to occur for weeks and months if the goal was to create and undercover investigative video. The statement was made that 72 percent of Americans support undercover video investigations. There cannot be but a handful of sickos in the entire nation who support witnessing animal cruelty and doing nothing to stop it.

We all need to offer heartfelt thanks to those brave legislators who have stood with natural resource users on bills that will make a difference in the future of our state and our families. You can bet that these folks will be targeted in upcoming elections and we will need to be there to help them.

Scary Dynamic

We have longed believed that the debates in the New Mexico Legislature have been between conservations and liberals (or “progressives”). That is certainly not the case in 2015.

Rather, the dividing line is between rural and urban legislators. We have long known that rural New Mexico is outnumbered in the Legislature. For just as long we have counted on urban legislators to share the values that are necessary to keep rural New Mexico alive – as well as to produce food and fiber and provide habitat for all creatures.

Now, although they may still hold the same values, these folks are afraid of upcoming re-election campaigns.

It was just a matter of time…

This is one of those “they came for the loggers” stories. For decades we have watched small but vocal groups of radicals that have attacked various peoples and industries in our nation. We all too often have taken the position that those groups are indeed in the wrong or that they may have done something to bring this wrath on themselves.

It wasn’t that many years ago that Rush Limbaugh warned the beef industry that it wasn’t immune to these attacks. He was right. Beef has been under attack on the basis of perceived health issues. Science continues to show that beef is part of a healthy diet, which at least holds the health argument to a dull roar.

For the past few years they new attack has been on beef’s impact on the planet. There have been numerous reports filled with flawed science on that subject and work is being done to debunk those reports.

The stakes in the war got a whole lot higher in February when the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s Report was published in the Federal Register. This report suggests elimination of meat (anything with a face or walks on four legs) from a healthy diet because of its impacts on the Earth and its resources.

Rather, Americans should consume a plant-based diet. The 571-page report (which I admit I haven’t yet read) goes on to suggest taxes on dessert, trained obesity “interventionists” at worksites, and electronic monitoring of how long Americans sit in front of the television. The plan is to “transform the food system.”

The Agencies will receive comments on the report through April 8, 2015. Comments to may be submitted to www.dietaryguidelines.gov. Additionally, there is a public meeting on March 24, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. ET in Bethesda, MD, for interested parties to provide oral comments to the Agencies regarding the report. Efforts are being made to extend the comment period on the report.

If something else hasn’t gored your ox already, NOW is the time to stand up, step up and comment on this ridiculousness! NMCGA will be posting draft comments on the web at www.nmagriculture.org, on Facebook and distributing by email.

Wolf Update

 

A lawsuit against the new Mexican wolf 10J rule and final environmental impact statement (EIS) has been filed by several groups in New Mexico and Arizona. There is still time to join the suit. If you are interested, please email nmcga@nmagricul
ture.org  for more information.