President's Column - Fall 2019

A Challenging Year

I am the night irrigator tonight and as I look around I can count at least 27 flairs from oil wells. As a cotton and alfalfa farmer near Carlsbad, I am at the epicenter of New Mexico’s oil boom. A pipe and truck yard are being built east of us where my neighbor used to farm, and farm to market roads are crowded with oil and gas traffic.  But those aren’t the only pressures agriculture is currently experiencing.  I was watching the market report on the RFD (Rural Farm Delivery) channel the other morning and saw that every commodity was down; cattle, grains, you name it, they are all depressed. When visiting with other farmers and ranchers, not only in the state but around the western US, they all report that it has been a challenging year. Hail wiped out my friend’s corn in Colorado, there has been flooding in the high plains, and we’ve experienced record high temperatures, drought and bug problems we haven’t seen in a while. Don’t forget the labor woes many are going through. I think I am ready, I am certain others are as well, for this crop year to start winding down. 

These are the trials and tribulations that just about anyone in agriculture deals with. Farming or ranching is a business, but I am convinced it is also a lifestyle. You have to make money to pay all your bills, but not many would put in the hours that people in agriculture do unless they really liked it, at least most of the time. The only ones that might have some comparison are those that own their own business. But we don’t go it alone, New Mexico’s agricultural community is fortunate to have volunteers that believe in our way of life. I was honored to have dinner with some of them the other day. Tom Sidwell and Randell Major, the president and president-elect of Cattle Growers, Jim Berlier and Jimbo Williams, the president and vice-president of the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts, and Bronson Corn and James Duffey, the president and vice-president of New Mexico Wool Growers. These are all humble people that are dedicated to keeping agriculture viable, not only now, but in the future.  Each organization has a board with other volunteers just as we do at New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau. It is the joint effort that will make us all strong, not only legislatively, but also as an industry.

To prepare for the future, our board is formulating a strategic plan.  We are exploring the role of New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau and how we can contribute to the success of our state’s agricultural community. We’ve already undertaken a peer review and the strategic planning committee is charting a course for the next few years. Issues committees are coming together and are planning a path forward that best suits their situation. I haven’t given them much direction, but each is finding their way.  Just around the corner, county farm bureau’s are planning their annual meetings. This is a chance for our grassroots to address local issues through the creation of policy.  Review the resolution book and if there is an area of concern, please take action and write up a resolution. These resolutions are what we follow, so we need the membership to step up to give us guidance and direction. Members are important, the grassroots model isn’t functional without you.

Until next time, do justly, love mercy, walk humbly.