By Margaret Hopper
The Farm Bureau held its annual dinner Thursday night, October 25, at the American Legion building on College Street. Members of the Grant County 4-H served the meal, a tradition, which helps the Farm Bureau and gives the students an opportunity to earn finances for their trip to national competition.
Matt Rush, executive vice president of the New Mexico Farm Bureau program, was in Silver City to help celebrate the event. After the dinner, Rush gave a short speech reminding members that the Farm Bureau was with them fighting against "bad regulations" which the political arm of the organization had helped defeat recently.
In the past year, a number of questionable legislative efforts had been soundly rejected, but it took constant watchfulness and many letters to the right places to do this, Rush said. One of those proposed laws expected to force dust controls on dirt roads, and penalties to those who raised it, as a means of "keeping the air cleaner." Farmers and ranchers could only shake their heads at such lack of understanding.
Another took the form of demanding that all tractor operators must have a CDL, or Commercial Drivers’ License, which would insure that no young tractor drivers could
help on the family farm, as that license was not issued to anyone under 21 years of age.
The Department of Transportation sponsored that one.
Perhaps the worst legal proposal was one the Department of Labor supported. It would not allow any minors under the age of 18 to work with cattle or horses, attempt to pick fruit or climb on ladders to reach it. A long list of proscribed activities was in the bill, which would prevent any child from learning anything about work or farm skills. And no family business could have survived such controls.
In southern New Mexico, the plan to declare the Organ Mountains, a wild area in Doña Ana County a national monument, is being fought. The 600,000-acre area is already protected by the Bureau of Land Management, said Rush, and the scope of this single land removal from its present use would affect 25 percent of the entire county. “We fight for you,” said Rush, “and we take care of our own.”
The election of new officers went quickly. John York, past president, announced that the present board was willing to continue its duties if no new contenders offered to run. They didn’t, and the old slate was retained for another year. In most years, resolutions are offered to the membership, but none were presented at this meeting. York reminded members that delegates carried resolutions from county to state and on to the federal level as needed. These resolutions were the "backbone of Farm Bureau work."
The featured speaker of the evening was Serena Pack from Cliff who gave her speech on initiative and what one person could accomplish. Pack’s accomplishments as a high school graduate this past year were quite impressive. She was introduced as a rangeland advocate, who promotes green literacy, and who had received national and international
attention for her environmental science work with grasses in abandoned mining areas.