The Grant County Farm Bureau held its annual dinner at the American Legion Hall on Thursday, October 24. The menu included barbecued beef, which members were quick to say was some of the best ever. The food was served by 4-H members in high school from the Silver City area. They served it shortly after 6:00 p.m. after the welcome by John York of Mimbres, who has served in a variety of offices over the past decades.
York summarized Farm Bureau activity in New Mexico this past year, recalling major topics that local members felt were critical to the future of farming and agriculture. Citing the increase of human population to nine billion over the world, he noted that it is estimated that two percent of the population is trying to feed the other 98 percent, and about half of that two percent is age 65 or over. He stressed that it is imperative that more young people become food producers.
And how is this to be done? York said Mike Cuff of Cliff had decided that taking kids to the state annual meeting in Albuquerque could make a difference. Grant County Farm Bureau members started taking kids to that meeting about three years ago. At first, others who saw the kids there thought it was a joke. But those who looked ahead continued to bring the kids and watch the transformation. These young people were serious about their futures, and their interest and behavior were impressive.
The questions turned from whether it was a joke to “how do you do it?” The answers given were, “First, you ask them. Then you bring them and pay their way.” York said Cuff was something of a Pied Piper and this plan was being supported, as we needed to get more FFA and 4-H kids involved at the high school level.
In his short speech, York mentioned a number of issues that local volunteers were working on to help the farm/ranch economy. Grant County volunteers had helped the Doña Ana Bureau in its effort to keep the proposed wilderness area from increasing in size. (Many citizens don’t realize that wilderness designation reduces human choices in those areas. It takes the heritage promised to us, away from us.)
The wolf program is being expanded beyond its present location and is proposed to go into Texas, at great expense. (Farm Bureau was building safety places for children to get into if wolves threatened them while waiting for a school bus in some areas very close to here, just a couple of years ago. Wolves were coming into family yards and killing pets and livestock at that time.) “We wrote letters of opposition,” said York.
He said some groups are trying to place jaguars in our area, claiming restoration, but they had never been proven to be here originally. And again, the expenses will be huge. The work going into the farm bill took eight months' effort, and the returns were not great.
York said the July 4 booth in Gough Park was considered successful, and the free pancake breakfast at the Grant County Fair was also a success, as well as last year’s Christmas Party in the Cliff-Gila area. Locally, the Bureau’s new banners were big and impressive, and over the state, some road signs near Albuquerque were informing city folk about the Farm Bureau program.
The Mimbres Harvest Festival, a rather new event, is becoming better each year, said York, and it promises to become a major draw in the future. It started as arts and crafts, but now includes produce when it is available. It is another project the Bureau supports.
A matter of serious concern is the Blue Ways program which seeks to control all the waterways in the country and mandate how they are to be used or limited in use. York said bureaucrats telling farmers what they can and cannot grow is not a good sign.
The Farm Bureau scholarship program, according to York, is a positive influence for our youth, and people can see some very good kids getting those scholarships. Students in the Cliff-Gila area were of exceptional quality.
New officers were elected at this meeting and York asked Mike Cuff to preside over that portion as he, York, was running for an office. Cuff introduced his nominating committee and named the people and their respective offices as selected by this committee. The floor was opened for further nominations, but none came forward. The vote confirmed the slate of officers presented: president, Stewart Rooks; vice-president, John York, stepping down from his present position as president; secretary, Tammy Hooker; and treasurer, Neline Dominguez.
York was voted in as State Executive Director recently and spoke of the value of so many Grant County volunteers who have made quite a difference under the Farm Bureau umbrella. Jeff Glen, a long-time Bureau member, was not at this dinner, but he was pointed out as a good example of the quality, hard-working people who have made Grant County a leader in Bureau affairs. Rooks, the new president, named others who had contributed much over the years.
The 4-H members who served said they were from the Wildlife Team, Silver area. They would be judged on their ability to identify species and tell of conditions needed for habitat, given a set of site conditions and prepare a plan for wildlife use, and be asked questions personally about species and how to best keep them in the environment. The local Farm Bureau makes donations to such groups annually and encourages their work.
Throughout the evening names had been pulled to receive door prizes and a last group was awarded prizes at the close of the evening. The meeting ended at 7:30 and immediately half of the members there joined in the cleanup work, completely restoring the American Legion Hall to its original state in about seven or eight minutes.