Monday, February 29, 2016

EPA Funds Small Businesses to Develop Environmental Technologies

EPA Funds Small Businesses to Develop Environmental Technologies WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced eight contracts to small businesses to develop innovative technologies to protect the environment, funded through EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. “The green technologies that these SBIR companies are developing will help us address some of today’s most pressing environmental and public health issues” said Dr. Thomas A. Burke, EPA’s Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. The phase II contracts announced today provide the companies $300,000 to further develop and commercialize their products and ideas. Phase II awards are only available to companies that previously submitted research proposals for their innovative technologies and were awarded phase I contracts up to $100,000. Today’s recipients include: • Aspen Products Group, Inc. - Marlborough, Mass. for developing a filtration device to control emerging contaminants in drinking water supplies. • Environmental Fuel Research, LLC – Philadelphia, Pa. for developing a system to produce biofuel from grease trap waste. • ETSVP-JV, LLC – Roanoke, Va. for developing innovative filters using nanomaterials to remove gaseous pollutants and particulates from contaminated air streams. • Lucid Design Group, Inc. – Oakland, Calif. for developing technology to drive behavior energy savings in commercial buildings. • MesoCoat, Inc. – Euclid, Ohio for developing corrosion-resistant coatings on steel to replace current more hazardous methods. • Precision Combustion, Inc. – North Haven, Conn. for developing regenerable high efficiency filter technology to remove gaseous pollutants from indoor air. • Sustainable Bioproducts, LLC – Bozeman, Mont. for developing a low-cost, simple, and scalable microbial process for conversion of municipal solid waste to fuels using fungus. • Vista Photonics, Inc. – Las Cruces, N.M. for developing an inexpensive, high-performance, portable air pollution monitor to continuously measure atmospheric ammonia. EPA funds many environmentally-minded small businesses so they can bring their innovative technologies to market. A previous SBIR winner, GVD Corporation, created an environmentally friendly mold-release coating that makes indoor air healthier in manufacturing facilities by reducing the use of harmful chemicals. Okeanos Technologies is developing a new energy-efficient seawater desalination technology that could provide clean and affordable water where it is needed most. Providence Photonics is working to develop a real-time monitor that optimizes flare operation and reduces overall air toxics emissions from flaring activities in industrial facilities across the United States. EPA is one of 11 federal agencies that participate in the SBIR program, which was enacted in 1982 to strengthen the role of small businesses in federal research and development, create jobs and promote U.S. technical innovation. To be eligible to participate in the SBIR program, a company must be an organized, for-profit U.S. business and have fewer than 500 employees. For more information on EPA’s SBIR Phase II recipients, visit Learn more about EPA’s SBIR program at R034

NM OKs wolves at Turner ranch as stopover to Mexico

NM OKs wolves at Turner ranch as stopover to Mexico By Ollie Reed Jr. / Journal Staff Writer Published: Friday, February 26th, 2016 at 1:03pm SANTA FE, N.M. — The state Game and Fish Commission on Friday unanimously approved a request by the Turner Endangered Species Fund to import and temporarily hold five Mexican gray wolves at Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch in south-central New Mexico. The wolves are being transported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from Wolf Haven International, a wolf sanctuary in Washington state, to a facility in Mexico. The stop at the Ladder Ranch, which would be over as soon as early April or as late as mid July, is intended to give the wolves a respite from travel-related stress. Stewart Liley, chief of wildlife for the Game and Fish Department, said that historically the range of Mexican wolves is 90 percent in Mexico and 10 percent in the corners of the states of New Mexico and Arizona. He said transporting the five wolves is in support of Mexico’s fledgling wolf recovery program and the theory that three wolf populations – two in Mexico and one in New Mexico and Arizona – is necessary for sustaining the species. The Fish and Wildlife Service reported earlier this month that the gray wolf population in New Mexico and Arizona is 97, down from 110 a year ago. The population in Mexico is believed to be between 12 and 17. “I like the fact the wolves are being introduced into a more historical range,” Commissioner Ralph Ramos said. Commission Chairman Paul Kienzle agreed. “I think this is a step in the right direction,” Kienzle said. “I am comfortable in supporting this.” Kienzle moved to approve the permit with the provision that it may be reviewed by Game and Fish Department Director Alexandra Sandoval if the wolves’ stay at the Ladder Ranch exceeds the timetable discussed. The permit request was the only item on the agenda at Friday’s special commission meeting at the Albuquerque Marriott. Friday’s action follows a surprise move by the commission last spring to deny the Ladder Ranch’s permit, which had been in effect since 1988, to aid the U.S. government’s Mexican wolf recovery program by providing pen space for wolves being released into, or temporarily removed from, the wild by the federal government. In January, the commission denied the Ladder Ranch’s appeal of that decision but invited the ranch to reapply for a permit to host wolves. The commission’s denial in January was prompted to a degree by the commission’s dissatisfaction with the federal Fish and Wildlife Department’s wolf-recovery plan. “I don’t have a problem with the Ladder Ranch,” Ramos said after Friday’s meeting. “I think they are doing a good job. I’m concerned about Fish and Wildlife. They need to get that recovery plan completed.” Mike Phillips, director of the Turner Endangered Species Fund, participated in Friday’s meeting via telephone speaker from Bozeman, Mont. He explained there were two plans for moving the wolves from Washington to the Ladder Ranch, then on to Mexico. He said the different timetables had to do with the fact there is a breeding pair among the five wolves. “Breeding time is very soon,” Phillips said. “We don’t want to move the female wolf during the first 30 days of gestation.” He said plan A is to move the wolves to the Ladder Ranch next week, then on to Mexico before the pups are born. Plan B is to move the wolves to the Ladder in early April, then on to Mexico in July after the pups are born. Liley told the commission that he had visited the Ladder Ranch recently and that the ranch had made some changes to its facility that were suggested by the commission – such as doing away with man-made dens that could acclimate wolves to unnatural habitat. He said, too, that he is confident the Ladder Ranch facility is sufficiently secure to hold wolves.

Farmers identify with farm work, employees

Farmers identify with farm work, employees Feb 21, 2016Don Curlee, Ag at Large commentary Many, probably most, farmers have been farm workers, and many still are. It gives them a very human perspective that employers in other industries don’t always have. This conclusion came to light recently when a 40-year-old interview with one of California agriculture’s former statesman-leaders appeared on my computer screen. It didn’t say who asked the questions, but it identified the respondent as Delano table grape grower Martin Zaninovich. Zaninovich passed away a couple of years ago, but the memory of his clear-headed and in-depth understanding of agricultural issues in California came through in his answers to the interviewer’s questions. Most of them dealt with the farm labor issue, and the answers reflected Zaninovich’s own experience, along with that of other members of his family. As immigrants, they began their farming experiences at ground zero, doing all the basic work of establishing vineyards. They performed all the jobs themselves long before they hired help. At the time of the interview around 1975, Zaninovich and others in the table grape industry had undergone the indecency of their products being boycotted illegally by union activists. They had experienced vulgar and unprincipled behavior near their vineyards by those who derided and disrespected their employees, supposedly to convince them to join a union’s cause as represented by the United Farmworkers union (UFW). By that time employers had seen another union, the Teamsters, enter the union controversy, particularly in the Delano area. The law establishing secret ballot voting by farmworkers on the unionization question resulted in about three dozen rapid fire elections in Kern County alone. To many people’s surprise, and perhaps shock, about 30 of the legally held, state-authorized elections were won by the Teamsters, with only a half dozen going to the UFW. But that surprise was only a preliminary to much greater disappointment for the fledgling union. The UFW leadership judged that the newly established election law for farm workers was not firm enough. It proposed and qualified for the November, 1976, ballot a proposition that would have frozen the law and its administration into the state constitution. It was identified as Proposition 14, and apparently was easily qualified with an abundance of signatures. The state’s entire agricultural industry was suddenly awakened to the labor issue, to the potential strength and the overwhelming indecency of unions and their potential misuse of power. The industry united in opposition to the proposition. Leadership against Prop. 14 was led by Japanese-American growers in Fresno County. They were allied through the Nisei Farmers League, led then by Harry Kubo. The table grape growers in Delano were in lock step with them, and the determination to defeat the proposition radiated to farmers throughout the state. Professional campaign management was retained, and strategy was developed based on the results of a statewide opinion survey. It centered on the right to defend private property. The union had advocated unlimited access to grower holdings as a means of reaching workers with its message. Enthusiastic rallies were held by agriculture in northern and southern California featuring professional entertainment and precinct walking by dedicated volunteers. Voters were listening and beginning to understand the issues. One powerful newspaper ad featured the photograph of a “ no trespassing” sign at the edge of the UFW’s foothill compound in the Tehachapis. “Even the union proposing unlimited access to grower property insisted on the right to protect its own,” was the sign’s contradictory message. Election Day brought unrestrained celebration throughout agriculture, extending nationwide, especially to the buyers and handlers of the state’s food products, seemingly so vulnerable to illegal boycotting. The union-proposed initiative was defeated by a nearly two-to-one vote. It was a day still fondly remembered by agriculture’s leaders, the likes of Martin Zaninovich. It seemed to confirm that farmers are closer to the farm worker experience than many people believe. They can and do identify.

Improving Water Law and Policy Focus of NM WRRI Report

Improving Water Law and Policy Focus of NM WRRI Report by Catherine Ortega Klett Utton Transboundary Resources Center Director Adrian Oglesby received a grant from the NM WRRI to provide water law and policy options for New Mexico lawmakers that could be implemented in New Mexico to promote water conservation and efficiency. The effort began with the Utton Center convening over forty experienced water managers, lawyers, scientists, engineers, academics, and students to explore water law and policy options for New Mexico. The conference took place in October 2014. To encourage imaginative and courageous thinking, conference participants abided by the Chatham House Rule, which allows participants to use any information provided at the conference, but prohibits participants from revealing the identity or affiliation of the person who provides that information, nor that of any other participant. Liberated from fear of possible repercussions, the group freely proposed changes to New Mexico water law and policy to help New Mexico incorporate the concept of resilience into its water management objectives and avoid future conflicts over water. In preparation for the conference, the Utton Center reviewed numerous reports from recent years that proposed ideas that might make New Mexico more water resilient. The final report, Water Resilience in a Time of Uncertainty - How Can Our Water Laws and Policies Better Support Water Resilience? documents the discussions and recommendations developed during that two-day conference and a subsequent presentation on water banking. Included in the report are chapters on water management; water planning; water rights administration; water banking; water storage; water preservation of agricultural uses; and water for the environment, recreation and tourism. To view the report click here

Friday, February 26, 2016

Reward Offered in Horse Killings

Reward Offered in Horse Killings El Defensor Chieftain By John Larson Last week Socorro County rancher Jerry Armijo learned that three of his horses were found shot dead on his family’s ranch, located just south of Box Canyon. According to State Statute 30-18-1, “whoever commits extreme cruelty to animals is guilty of a fourth degree felony.” Anyone who has any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect, or suspects, should contact the Socorro County Sheriff’s office at 575-835-0941. A reward fund of $2,500 has been established.

USDA Invests $25 Million in High-Priority Watersheds to Improve Water Quality

USDA Invests $25 Million in High-Priority Watersheds to Improve Water Quality Seventeen New Watersheds Added to National Water Quality Initiative WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced an investment of $25 million targeted to help agriculture producers improve water quality in high-priority streams and rivers across the country. Through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will help agricultural producers in 187 priority watersheds apply conservation measures that contribute to cleaner water downstream. "Clean water is in everyone's interest, and the National Water Quality Initiative has been successful because it brings together multiple partners in strategic areas to work towards a common goal," said Vilsack. "Restoring health to waterways benefits not just farmers and ranchers, but it also gives their communities safe drinking water and provides healthy habitat for fish and wildlife." The goal of NWQI is to implement conservation practices in sufficient quantity within a concentrated area so that agriculture no longer contributes to the impairment of water bodies within these priority watersheds. NRCS and partners work with producers and landowners to implement voluntary conservation practices, such as nutrient management, cover crops, conservation cropping systems, filter strips, terraces and buffers, that improve water quality in high-priority watersheds while maintaining agricultural productivity. Water quality-related conservation practices enhance agricultural profitability through reduced input and enhanced soil health, which results in higher soil organic matter, increased infiltration and water-holding capacity and nutrient cycling. USDA's targeted approach to improve water quality is working across the country. In Arkansas, conservation efforts improved the water quality to the point that portions of the St. Francis River and the Illinois River are no longer considered impaired streams by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In coastal Mississippi, focused efforts led to Orphan Creek's removal from the list of impaired streams, and in Louisiana, two watersheds, Big Creek and East Fork Big Creek, are on track for delisting. This year, NRCS added 17 new watersheds to NWQI, and because of marked progress in some watersheds, "graduated" 13 watersheds from the initiative. Since 2012, conservation systems have been place on almost 500,000 acres in priority watersheds through NWQI, supported by $100 million in USDA investments. Now in its fifth year, NWQI has expanded to include more small watersheds across the nation, and it builds on efforts to deliver high-impact conservation in areas such as the Mississippi River basin, Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes. In 2016, NRCS will bolster its water quality efforts by introducing a new evaluation tool in selected NWQI watersheds. The tool will help producers assess how their farm or ranch is operating, the value of conservation already in place, and to identify areas they may want to improve and practices they may want to implement to get them there. Known as a resource stewardship evaluation, this new tool integrates many of NRCS' planning tools, and looks holistically at an agricultural operation's current management and conservation activities across five natural resource concerns: soil management, water quality, water quantity, air quality and wildlife habitat. With a resource stewardship evaluation, NRCS helps producers develop a conservation plan that best meets their goals and prescribes the right conservation practices. NRCS worked with state water quality agencies and other partners to select NWQI watersheds. State water quality agencies and local partners also provide assistance with watershed planning, additional dollars and assistance for conservation, along with outreach to farmers and ranchers. Through NWQI, these partnerships are growing and offering a model for collaborative work in other watersheds. Deadlines for application vary by state. Contact your local USDA Service Center for more information. Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect over 400 million acres nationwide, boosting soil and air quality, cleaning and conserving water and enhancing wildlife habitat. For an interactive look at USDA's work in conservation and forestry over the course of this Administration, visit #

Register for March 9, 2016, Public Meeting on Updating the Coordinated Framework for Regulation of Biotechnology

Register for March 9, 2016, Public Meeting on Updating the Coordinated Framework for Regulation of Biotechnology On October 30, 2015, under the auspices of the National Science and Technology Council, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy held a public meeting to discuss the memorandum entitled, "Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products," issued by the Executive Office of the President in July 2015. This meeting was the first of three public engagement sessions on this topic. The next public meeting will be held on March 9, 2016, at EPA’s Region 6 office at 1445 Ross Avenue, Dallas, Texas. Meeting registration links and additional information will be announced in the Federal Register within the next week and can be found at

NMSU experts offer guidance at 50th annual pecan conference, trade show

NMSU experts offer guidance at 50th annual pecan conference, trade show DATE: 02/26/2016 WRITER: Darrell J. Pehr, 575-646-3223, CONTACT: John White , 575-640-7555, With an update on the proposed pecan marketing order and the excitement of an “on” year for pecan production, a big turnout is expected for the 50th annual Western Pecan Growers Association conference and trade show March 6-8 in Las Cruces. “We have a lot of interest already,” said John White, director of the association. “We are expecting up to 600 people.” Registered conference attendees will have access to meals, a reception, the conference and the equipment show. Two speakers will address the proposed marketing order, which would authorize data collection, research and promotional activities. The statewide pecan crop makes up a sizable percentage of the agricultural economic activity each year in New Mexico. White said this year’s crop is one of the best in the past four or five years. New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service will host the 2016 Western Pecan Growers Association conference and trade show at Hotel Encanto, 705 S. Telshor Blvd. Parking is limited around the hotel and overflow parking can use the Mesilla Valley Mall designated parking area and take the hotel shuttle to the hotel and back. The association, which represents growers in California, Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas, co-sponsors the event with NMSU. The annual event includes a trade show that runs from noon-5 p.m. Sunday, March 6, then continues during the educational program all day Monday and Tuesday morning, March 7-8. It will feature about 70 vendors. The popular annual Pecan Food Fantasy baking contest will also take place on Sunday. 

 Richard Heerema, NMSU pecan specialist, is the organizer of the conference’s educational program Monday and Tuesday. The agenda includes 17 presentations by NMSU experts, experts from other universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as representatives from the pecan industry. Topics such as potassium and phosphorous management, freeze injury risk and the use of wind machines and managing salinity will be presented. Heerema will present an update on the discovery of pecan bacterial leaf scorch in the Southwest as well as scheduling irrigations with a pressure chamber. NMSU IR-4 program coordinator Cary Hamilton will give an IR-4 project overview. NMSU program coordinator Larry Blackwell will speak on translaminar insecticides. Rolston St. Hilaire, NMSU horticulture professor, will discuss midday stem water potential. In addition to the educational program, trade show and baking contest, the program includes a Sunday welcome reception from 4-6 p.m. at the Azul Bar in the Hotel Encanto, as well as a Monday social hour at 6 p.m., immediately followed by the 7 p.m. banquet and awards ceremony. Continuing Education Credits will be offered by Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to attendees. Presentations from several previous conferences are archived at For full information about the 2016 conference or to register and pay online, visit This year all conference registration is either online or at the door. Online registration closes after March 2. A late fee will be charged for those who miss the deadline. Interested parties can also contact White directly at 575-640-7555 or - 30 - Follow NMSU News on Twitter: Follow NMSU News on Facebook:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

2016 Western Ag Industry Survey

On behalf of the Western Extension Committee we invite your participation in the following project if you are involved with the agricultural industry in the 13 western states. We recognize you might be receiving this email from more than one organization and apologize in advance for any cross postings. Please feel free to distribute to your producer and colleague groups. Thank you ~ 2016 Western Ag Industry Survey We invite you to participate in a project to learn more about risk conditions in the Western Ag Industry. It has been developed by members of the Western Extension Committee located at Land Grant Universities across the 13 Western states. Your answers will be kept confidential and will only be released as summaries in which you will not be identified. We estimate it will take about 10 minutes to complete the survey. Your participation is voluntary. However, you can help us a great deal by sharing your perspective. If you prefer not to respond to a specific question, please omit it and move on. Survey questions are intended to include perspectives from a broad cross-section of individuals across the agricultural industry. As such, some questions are worded as “you” and “your” with the intent that you provide responses from your personal perspective. Elsewhere, questions include the wording “in your area” with the intent that you provide responses for your local area. In some cases this may be the state where you work, the local region or county, or the location of one or more farm operations you are involved in. Survey results will be made available free of charge in an electronic format once the data have been compiled at The 2016 Western Ag Industry online survey is available at: Thank you in advance for your help with this project, Members of the Western Extension Committee 307.766.2166

EPA Proposes Revisions to its Risk Management Program to Improve Chemical Process Safety and Further Protect Communities and First Responders

EPA Proposes Revisions to its Risk Management Program to Improve Chemical Process Safety and Further Protect Communities and First Responders WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to revise its Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations to improve chemical process safety, assist local emergency authorities in planning for and responding to accidents, and improve public awareness of chemical hazards at regulated sources. “Chemicals are a necessary part of our everyday lives; however, as we have too often seen they can cause loss of life, injury and significant property damage,” said Mathy Stanislaus, EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management. “It is these dangers that we are working to prevent and minimize as we propose revisions to the RMP, such as improving our prevention program requirements, ensuring coordination with first responders, and ensuring that accident planning protects local communities that need to evacuate or shelter-in-place during an accident.” While numerous chemical plants are operated safely, in the last 10 years more than 1,500 accidents were reported by RMP facilities. These accidents are responsible for causing nearly 60 deaths, some 17,000 people being injured or seeking medical treatment, almost 500,000 people being evacuated or sheltered-in-place, and costing more than $2 billion in property damages. The Accidental Release Prevention regulations under section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act (CAA), also known as the EPA RMP regulations, require covered facilities to develop and implement a risk management program. The proposed revisions to EPA’s RMP regulations is a key action item under President Obama’s Executive Order (EO) 13650, Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security. EPA shares RMP information with state and local officials to help them plan for and prevent chemical accidents and releases. This proposal is the result of a review undertaken to modernize the existing EPA RMP and information gathered from feedback obtained during listening sessions, Webinars, meetings with stakeholder groups, stakeholder conferences and public comments in response to EPA’s Request for Information. The proposed amendments are intended to improve existing risk management plan requirements to enhance chemical safety at RMP facilities by: • Requiring the consideration of safer technologies and alternatives by including the assessment of Inherently Safer Technologies and Designs in the Process Hazard Assessment; • Requiring third party audits and root cause analysis to identify process safety improvements for accident prevention; • Enhancing emergency planning and preparedness requirements to help ensure coordination between facilities and local communities; • Strengthening emergency response planning to help ensure emergency response capabilities are available to mitigate the effect of a chemical accident; • Improving the ability of LEPCs (Local Emergency Planning Committees) and local emergency response officials to better prepare for emergencies both individually and with one another; and • Improving access to information to help the public understand the risks at RMP facilities. The RMP rule is just one aspect of EPA and the U.S. Government’s efforts to enhance the safety and security of chemical facilities throughout the nation. We continue our work under EO 13650 by assisting local communities in developing a local emergency contingency plan and facilitating a dialog between the community and chemical facilities on chemical accident prevention and preparedness. The public will have 60 days from publication in the Federal Register to submit written comments online at (the portal for federal rulemaking), or by mail. For more information about the proposed rule: Read Assistant Administrator Stanislaus’ blog: R033


AgriFuture2016 New Mexico Department of Agriculture Press Release ‪#AgriFuture2016, May 16-18 in Las Cruces aims to inform, inspire, and connect the men and women who will produce our food and fiber going forward. We're recruiting current/future producers age 18-40, as well as those who have spent years in agriculture and have knowledge they're ready to pay forward to the next generation.

Final Legislative Roundup

Final Legislative Roundup Zach Riley, Director of Government Affairs In this final wrap up are all the bills and memorials that NMFLB actively followed, as well as our positions and thoughts as they pertained to the pieces of legislation. We worked diligently with many of the sponsors and other groups to amend bills and memorials in ways that would benefit the greater good and all of agriculture. From the standpoint of NMFLB, this was a successful session and we’re very pleased with the passage of the Right to Farm amendment to statute. We are also pleased to note that the Courts have awarded the necessary injunctive relief that will allow NMFLB to continue to fight the appellate court’s ruling on worker’s compensation. However, NMFLB decided not to support the worker’s comp bill that was advocated by some in the agricultural community. After much debate the board of directors decided that given the current status of the amicus brief and appeals filed by NMFLB, there was too much at stake to participate in the advancement of this legislation. Furthermore, there is the threat that in the event this bill was unsuccessful in this short session, there is significant case law from previous cases where the defense and judges have used failed legislation as justification for dissenting judgments. Sine die concluded February 19th bringing to a close another session in which NMFLB fought to protect the oldest family tradition from fielding too many negative attacks. Be sure if you have not already done so, to call the Governor at 505-476-2200 and strongly ask that she sign into law the Right to Farm Act SB72. As always, please contact your NMFLB staff should you have any questions or concerns. Until next session. Bill: HB51 Sponsors: Garcia, Miguel (D14) Title: FIREARM TRANSFER ACT Summary: (Identical to 2015 HB44) Creates the Firearm Transfer Act; requires background checks by the Department of Public Safety prior to the transfer of firearms by persons other than licensed dealers; prohibits certain persons from purchasing or receiving firearms. Status: House Rules and Order of Business Committee, stopped in committee Position: Oppose Notes: We will be watching to make sure that this bill doesn't impede the rights of individuals to purchase a firearm from family, and in tradeshows. Bill: HB78 Sponsors: McCamley (D33) Title: NMSU WATER RESOURCES APPROPRIATION Summary: Appropriates $400,000 (GF) to the Board of Regents of New Mexico State University for FY 2017 to support the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute. Status: House Appropriations and Finance Committee, stopped in committee Position: Support Notes: FB has traditionally supported the work and research done by the WRRI Bill: HB99 Sponsors: Pacheco (R23); Nunez (R36) Title: REAL ID DRIVERS LICENSES & DRIVING PRIVILEGE CARD FOR CERTAIN FOREIGN NATIONALS Summary: (Relates to HB94; 2015 SB653, HB22; 2014 HB127; 2013 SB521) Proposes to reconcile state law with the Federal REAL ID Act of 2005 by authorizing the Taxation and Revenue Department to issue two different types of state drivers licenses and identification cards. (1) The first is for U.S. citizens and foreign nationals with lawful status who qualify for licenses and ID cards that comport with the REAL ID Act. (2) The second is a driving privilege card intended for foreign nationals who are unable to demonstrate authorized legal presence in the United States, and which requires a fingerprint background check. Does away with the current blanket provision under which foreign nationals may use a taxpayer identification (ID) number instead of a social security number regardless of immigration status to obtain a drivers license or state identification card. Status: Sent to the Governor Position: Support w/Amendments Bill: HB108 Sponsors: Strickler (R2) Title: RURAL INFRASTRUCTURE TAX CREDIT Summary: (For the Economic and Rural Development Committee) (Similar to HB337) Relating to taxation; creates a rural infrastructure tax credit. Status: 02/08/2016 ñ House Ways and Means Committee Position: Support Notes: Just watching for the rural implications. Bill: HB111 Sponsors: Townsend (R54) Title: EXEMPT CROP DUSTING TANKS LESS THAN 10,000 GALLONS Summary: Exempts fuel storage tanks of less than 10,000 gallons used solely by a crop dusting or crop spraying service from the definition of above ground storage tanks for purposes of meeting the requirements of the Hazardous Waste Act and the Ground Water Protection Act. Status: Senate Judiciary Committee Position: Support Notes: Tracking in order that we may help it through. Bill: HB123 Sponsors: Rehm (R31) Title: TWO TIERED LICENSE FOR REAL ID Summary: (Similar to HB 99, relates to HB94; Similar to 2015 SB653). Proposes to resolve the issue of compliance with the federal REAL ID Act of 2005 by implementing a two tiered system. The Taxation and Revenue Department would be authorized to issue REAL ID compliant drivers licenses and identification cards for citizens and foreign nationals with lawful status, and drivers cards that are not REAL ID compliant for residents without lawful status. Requires fingerprinting of applicants for drivers cards. Provides for expiration of drivers licenses and drivers cards issued to foreign nationals. Changes penalties and imposes new ones for misuse of, or fraud in obtaining, drivers licenses, drivers cards, and identification cards. Status: House Rules and Order of Business Committee Position: Neutral until further movement Bill: HB125 Sponsors: Garcia, Miguel (D14) Title: INCREMENTAL MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE Summary: (Similar to 2015 HB20, HB138, HB360, SB10; 2014 HB213, SB319) Imposes annual step increases in the hourly minimum wage between 2017 and 2019 to $10.10, with additional increases based on the cost of living index. Also increases the minimum hourly wage for tipped employees. Status: 01/19/2016 ñ House Rules and Order of Business Committee Position: Oppose Bill: HB143 Sponsors: Bandy (R3) Title: CONSOLIDATION OF ELECTION DATES Summary: (Virtually identical to HGEIC substitute for 2015 HB338) Changes certain special district and political subdivision election dates all to fall on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in odd numbered years, and makes corresponding adjustments to election procedures. Status: Senate Rules Committee Position: Oppose with amendments Notes: NMFLB was in the position to help protect the structures of SWCD elections and the way in which, water projects may be administered by people with actual application. As well, it was important that the levies remain in place in order that districts be able to continue to do the work they do. Bill: HB148 Sponsors: Gomez (D34) Title: RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT OF INDUSTRIAL HEMP RULES AND FUND Summary: (For the Economic and Rural Development Committee) Relates to research and development of industrial hemp and is proposed to bring New Mexico into compliance with federal law. The Department of Agriculture is vested with authority to issue licenses to grow industrial hemp for research and development purposes, including agricultural, agronomic, ecological, processing, sales and marketing research. Although not mentioned in the bills title, an appropriation derives through creation of a fund. Status: House Rules and Order of Business Committee stopped in committee Notes: Track as it relates to FB policy on hemp Bill: HB149 Sponsors: Gomez (D34) Title: COMPENSATING LANDOWNERS FOR FINANCIAL DAMAGES CAUSED BY BIG GAME Summary: (Water and Natural Resources Committee; Economic and Rural Development Committee) Amends the Game and Fish Act to authorize the Game and Fish Department to use the Big Game Depredation Damage Fund to compensate landowners for financial damages caused by big game. Status: House Appropriations and Finance Committee stopped in committee Position: Neutral Notes: NMFLB has no policy as it directly relates to the subject matter and has divided feelings of the unintended consequences of such legislation. Bill: HB150 Sponsors: Gomez (D34) Title: NMSU: BOLL WEEVIL AND PINK BOLLWORM MONITORING Summary: Appropriates $50,0000 (GF 2017) to NMSUs board of regents to monitor the boll weevil and pink bollworm situation in South Central and Southwest New Mexico. Status: House Appropriations and Finance Committee stopped in committee Position: Support Bill: HB154 Sponsors: Roybal Caballero (D13) Title: INCREASED MINIMUM WAGE Summary: As of January 1, 2017, raises the New Mexico base minimum wage to $15 per hour. Starting January 1, 2018 and each succeeding year, indexes the minimum wage by the urban Consumer Price Index to reflect inflation. Eliminates the separate minimum wage for tipped employees. Status: House Rules and Order of Business Committee stopped in committee Position: Oppose Bill: HB167 Sponsors: Ezzell (R58) Title: WATER PROJECT LOANS AND GRANTS Summary: (Identical to SB106) Authorizes the New Mexico Finance Authority to make loans or grants from the Water Project Fund to the following qualifying entities for the following qualifying water projects on terms and conditions established by the Water Trust Board and the New Mexico Finance Authority: Status: 02/18/2016 ñ Passed in the Senate Position: Neutral Notes: Monitor Bill: HB196 Sponsors: Salazar, T. (D70) Title: REGIONAL WATER UTILITY AUTHORITY ACT Summary: Cited as the Regional Water Utility Authority Act, a 44 page bill filled with procedural requirements, authorizes the creation of regional water authorities to enhance activities related to: Status: House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee Position: Oppose with amendments Notes: This bill establishes the ability for any new authority to be constructed giving it municipal powers of condemnation, water right acquisition and property purchasing with the authority to compel individual property owners to abandon their own water rights and institute drilling moratoriums. Bill: HJM3 Sponsors: Fajardo (R7) Title: ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION WEEK AND GRANT PROGRAM Summary: Stresses the need for environmental education and recites the benefits already derived by 300 students who participated in an environmental literacy planned program; asks that a week in April be declared Environmental Education Week and that teachers be encouraged to teach students outdoors for at least one hour a week. Status: Passed in the Senate Position: Support w/Amendments Notes: Amended in the house and passed as amend in conservation. Bad memorial all around, but was amended and now contains the agricultural education components. Bill: HM31 Sponsors: McQueen (D50) Title: STATEWIDE RESILIENCY PLAN Summary: Resolves that the House of Representatives express its support and endorse the New Mexico First agriculture planning process for the creation of a statewide resiliency plan. Status: House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee Position: Oppose Notes: Was pulled from calendar, watching to make sure it doesn't resurface until possibly next year. Bill: HM43 Sponsors: Maestas Barnes (R15) Title: ALTERNATIVES TO EXPANDED PECOS WILDERNESS AREA Summary: Resolves that the U.S. Department of the Agriculture Forest Service be requested to engage in an immediate dialogue with all the gateway communities of the Carson and Santa Fe National Forests with regard to potential alternative designations for the lands proposed to be included in the Pecos Wilderness Area. Status: Passed in the House Position: Support w/Amendments Notes: Has some shaky language needs to be clarified and position opposing designation made stronger. Bill: HM70 Sponsors: Lechuga Tena (D21) Title: COMPANION ANIMAL OVERPOPULATION AND WELFARE STUDY Summary: Requests that the Superintendent of Regulation and Licensing convene a working group of stakeholders to address recommendations for law, including pet store bans such the one as recently enacted in Albuquerque, and the licensing of commercial animal breeders, to reduce companion animal overpopulation and increase companion animal welfare in the state. Status: House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee Position: Oppose Notes: Rolled over in committee waiting to hear if sponsor is going to bring back a substitute draft. Bill: SB3 Sponsors: McSorley (D16); Maestas (D16) Title: INDUSTRIAL HEMP RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT Summary: (Almost identical to the final version 2015 SB94 as passed by both chambers and vetoed by the Governor) Authorizes the Department of Agriculture to adopt rules for research on industrial hemp and to issue licenses to grow industrial hemp for research and development. Defines industrial hemp, authorizes the Department of Agriculture to promulgate rules and issue licenses, and establishes a non-reverting fund to be administered by the department. Status: Senate Committee on Committees Notes: hemp bill relating to FB policy Bill: SB65 Sponsors: Woods (R7) Title: OPT OUT OF LIVESTOCK COUNCIL ASSESSMENTS Summary: (Related to 2015 SB 223) Changes the rate for reimbursement to the New Mexico Livestock Board by the New Mexico Beef Council for necessary expenses from not more than four cents per head to not more than four cents per dollar collected in the form of council assessments on cattle transfers. Establishes an application process for producers who wish not to participate in the council assessment. Status: Senate Committee on Committees Position: Support Notes: Increase to the NM Beef Council check-off and provide greater advantage for NM beef producer education. Governor’s office called this an additional tax and unwanted levy and would not allow the bill to advance. The statement from the office of the Governor was, that producer’s don’t really want this and that she could not support new taxes. Bill: SB72 Sponsors: Ingle (R27) Title: LIMIT ON NUISANCE CLAIMS FOR FARMING Summary: (Related to 2015 HB564, SB307, SB348) Amends the Right to Farm Act to bar a property holders right to bring a nuisance claim against a previously established agricultural operation or facility unless that operation or facility has substantially changed in the nature or scope of its operations. Status: Sent to the Governor Position: Support Notes: Waiting for Governor’s signature Bill: SB160 Sponsors: Campos, P. (D8) Title: FUNDING TO UPDATE WATER PLANS Summary: Appropriates $700,000 (GF FY 2017) to the Interstate Stream Commission to update state and regional water plans. Status: Senate Finance Committee Notes: Monitoring, as NMFLB has been an active participant in the process to date. Bill: SB204 Sponsors: Martinez, Richard (D5) Title: REGIONAL WATER UTILITY AUTHORITY ACT Summary: (Identical to HB196) (Very Similar to 2015 SB550) (Related to 2015 SB63; 2014 SB112 and SB198) Cited as the Regional Water Utility Authority Act, a 44 page bill filled with procedural requirements, authorizes the creation of regional water authorities to enhance activities related to: Status: Senate Conservation Committee Position: Oppose Notes: Same as HB196. Language too cumbersome needs to be vetted several problems with eminent domain, liens, seizures, and boundaries, too heavy handed. Bill: SB244 Sponsors: Neville (R2) Title: WORKERS COMPENSATION: RATIONAL BASIS FOR EXEMPTING FARM AND RANCH LABORERS Summary: Inserts a rational basis for the exemption of farm and ranch laborers into 52 1 6 under the Workers Compensation Act. The Legislature finds that farm and ranch work is seasonal, many farm and ranch workers work temporarily and migrate from farm to farm and ranch to ranch and there is a high turnover in these workers. Status: Senate Judiciary Committee Position: Neutral Notes: NMFLB feels that in the best interest of ongoing litigation that this bill is inappropriate, poorly-worded, and shouldn’t advance at risk of jeopardizing the courts rulings. Bill: SB283 Sponsors: Barela (R39) Title: CHANGES EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES COVERED BY WORKERS COMPENSATION Summary: Exempts employers that paid or are obligated to pay cash wages for services rendered by the employers workers in the preceding calendar year in an amount less than $8,000. Extends coverage to employers of farm and ranch workers by eliminating the specific exemption for these employers. Excludes from being treated as employees family relations of an employer or of certain executive employees and individuals performing an occasional service for an employer who will provide reciprocal or similar services. Status: Senate Committee on Committees Position: Neutral Notes: This was the secondary solution bill also offered by Dairy Producers and Cattle Growers. This bill too had poorly drafted language and could become a detriment to ongoing litigation. Bill: SB294 Sponsors: Cisneros (D6) Title: TAX EXEMPTION FOR SALE OF ACCESS TO PRIVATE LAND FOR HUNTING OR FISHING Summary: Exempts from gross receipts as of July 1, 2016 receipts from sale by the landowner of access to private land if the purpose of the access is for hunting and fishing. Status: Senate Finance Committee Position: Support with amendments Notes: Bill is not advancing as does not contain language that is congruent with requests of the committee members nor does it address the unintended consequences of the legislation. Bill: SJM4 Sponsors: Sanchez, M. (D29) Title: ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION WEEK AND STUDY Summary: Affirms the important contribution of environmental education to education, health and responsible behavior; and requests the Governor to declare a week in April Environmental Education Week to encourage all K 12 teachers to teach their students outdoors for at least one hour that week and encourage state agencies to celebrate environmental education through existing programs. Status: House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee Notes: Same as Fajardo’s HJM3. Bill: SJM6 Sponsors: Stewart (D17); Harper (R57) Title: BEE AWARE DAY Summary: Urges state agencies to protect declining bee populations and requests the Governor to declare Bee Aware Day to promote education about the importance of bees to New Mexico’s economy and quality of life. Status: 02/05/2016 ñ House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee Position: Support w/Amendments Notes: Amended in Conservation committee striking language that was a direct attack on chemical application

Commodity organizations applaud GMO labeling bill

Commodity organizations applaud GMO labeling bill Feb 24, 2016Ron Smith Legislation introduced by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts has met with support from farm commodity organizations that cite the proposal as a workable solution to give the American consumer information on what’s in the food they eat while preventing a patchwork of mandatory, conflicting and costly regulations by state legislatures. Timing is important since a GMO-labeling law is set to go into effect in July. Roberts’ proposal would preempt state GMO food and seed labeling efforts and require USDA to set a standard for voluntary on-package disclosures. If Roberts’ bill becomes law, USDA would establish a set of standards within two years for labeling foods that contain or may contain bioengineering. USDA also would conduct an outreach and education campaign on the safety of bioengineered food. “The introduction of Roberts’s proposal is an important first step to restoring sanity to America’s food labeling laws,” says National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Maryland. “GMOs are perfectly safe and America’s farmers rely on this proven technology to protect our crops from insects, weeds and drought. Important food safety and labeling decisions should be made by the scientists and qualified policymakers at the FDA, not political activists and campaigns. Yet, despite the scientific evidence, states such as Vermont are quickly moving toward costly, confusing mandatory labeling legislation. It is imperative that the Senate take up this issue quickly to avoid a situation in which all American consumers pay a high price and gain little actual information.” “We’ve heard repeatedly that Americans want more information on what’s in their food, and we are invested in providing that information to them. Chairman Roberts’ bill is one that moves the food production industry in a direction of greater transparency, while at the same time protecting farmers’ ability to use what science has repeatedly proven to be a safe and sustainable technology,” said American Soybean Association President Richard Wilkins, a farmer from Greenwood, Del. The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) also voiced support for “a commonsense food-labeling proposal to bring consistency and transparency to the marketplace. “Time is running out for Congress to take action to prevent a patchwork of state food-labeling laws from being enacted,” said ASTA President & CEO Andrew LaVigne. “We applaud Chairman Roberts for putting forth a practical, national solution, and we urge the Senate to pass the proposal as soon as possible.” Safe food is goal “As growers, our primary concern is the ability to continue to produce food in the quantity and of the quality that American consumers demand, and we are acutely aware of consumers’ desire for us to reduce our impact on the environment in the process,” added Wilkins. “This is the dual promise of bioengineering. It has been proven safe repeatedly for nearly 20 years, and we can’t stand by while a small subset of activists willfully misinterprets and misrepresents bioengineering to advance their agenda.” Ag industry organizations point out that numerous studies show that the associated costs with Vermont’s GMO-labeling law and a subsequent patchwork of state laws will cost American families hundreds of dollars more in groceries each year – with low-income Americans being hit the hardest. The bill now goes through a markup by the Senate Committee on Agriculture. For more information on the need for a federal labeling standard, visit the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, at

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Special Hunter Education Camp offered at Camp Washington Ranch near Carlsbad

Special Hunter Education Camp offered at Camp Washington Ranch near Carlsbad CARLSBAD – The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is offering a special hunter education camp where youths can receive hands-on training and earn their hunter education certification. The camp is open to youths ages 11 to 18 who are accompanied by a responsible adult. It will be conducted the weekend of March 18 - 20 at historic Camp Washington Ranch near Carlsbad. Lodging and meals are free and all equipment is provided. Participants must complete and return the registration form available at by 5 p.m., Feb 26, to be eligible. Slots will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. The department is hosting the camp in partnership with the New Mexico Youth Conservation Foundation, the Safari Club International Southern New Mexico Chapter and Safari Club International Foundation. Participants will learn safe and responsible firearms handling, ethical hunting behaviors, conservation, wildlife identification and basic survival skills. Participants also can test their marksmanship skills with .22 rifles and archery on a range under the supervision of certified hunter education instructors and department staff. To qualify for the camp, youths must have a Customer Identification Number account with the department and complete the required homework before attending. To hunt legally in New Mexico, youth under 18 years of age must first successfully complete a hunter education course or be registered in the department’s Mentored-Youth Hunting Program. For more information please contact the Hunter Education Program at 505-222-4731 or go online to ###

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

APHIS Adds Wilson County in Tennessee to the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) Regulated Area

APHIS Adds Wilson County in Tennessee to the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) Regulated Area To: State and Territory Agricultural Regulatory Officials Effective immediately, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is adding Wilson County in Tennessee to the list of regulated areas for the emerald ash borer (EAB). APHIS is taking this action in response to the detection of EAB in Wilson County. To prevent the spread of EAB to other states, the attached Federal Order outlines specific conditions for the interstate movement of EAB-regulated articles from the quarantined areas in Tennessee. Specifically, the interstate movement of EAB-host wood and wood products from the quarantined areas in Tennessee is regulated, including firewood of all hardwood species, nursery stock, green lumber, waste, compost, and chips of ash species. EAB is an invasive wood-boring beetle that is native to China and other areas of East Asia. The beetle is present in some portions of the United States, and because of its continuing spread, APHIS has established regulated areas that are designated in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 7 CFR 301.53-3 and the Federal Orders located at: The interstate movement of firewood from quarantined areas is an especially high-risk pathway for the spread of EAB. Therefore, APHIS works with state cooperators and foresters to prevent the human assisted movement of EAB, develop biological and other controls for EAB, and raise public awareness about this pest and the potential threats associated with the long-distance movement of firewood. For more information about the EAB program and federal EAB regulations, please call EAB National Policy Manager Paul Chaloux at 301-851-2064.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Nut grass

Nutgrass – Nut Grass - Purple Nutsedge or Yellow Nutsedge Whatever you call it, the plant commonly known as Nutgrass or nut Grass, or water grass has become one of the most troublesome weeds of Eddy county gardens and lawns. It can be a problem in all parts of the garden and is very difficult weed to get rid of in lawns. Anyone who has had a close encounter with Nutgrass in their lawn will be aware that it has a few characteristics of certain other coarse grasses but it is not a true grass. Nutgrass is actually a member of the ‘Rush’ family – sedge. Instead of having a round stem it has a triangular stem. Sedges are often associated with damp boggy areas but this is not true with nutgrass. Nutgrass certainly need moisture, but is more prevalent in hot conditions, with full sunlight being its favorite growing conditions. These hot, warm days are ideal growing conditions such as we have been having in Eddy County lately are ideal for it to spread and grow. As with many other invasive weeds, Nutgrass spreads by way of underground stems (Rhizomes) and small tubers (Nuts). Yellow nutgrass has one tuber and purple has two or more. That is why purple is much harder to control. Unfortunately, some of the more effective methods of control or eradication are not always practicable for the average gardener - especially if the Nutgrass is in the lawns area. For instance repeated tillage in the summer – which seems to be an effective control –is not often an option, especially if the Nutgrass has invaded a lawn. Regular tillage, which brings the tubers to the surface – or near to – tends to dry out the tubers beyond their natural endurance. (Moisture loss is a quick way to death for Nutgrass tubers. Desiccation can lead to death after just 4 days! However, the tillage must take place every three weeks to be effective, so not generally an option for the gardener. The Nutgrass plant is also susceptible to shading, and shaded conditions, so anything that can be done to increase the competition for sunlight from surrounding plants can be beneficial. This would include having a healthy, strong growing lawn. Regular cropping of an area can have a beneficial effect for Nut grass, for as the crops are removed it then has full access to the available sunlight, moisture in the soil, and available nutrients. Here are a few tips for controlling Nutgrass: 1.) Hand pulling younger plants (plants juts sprouted from seed) may offer some control, but once the tubers and nutlets have formed in the ground, pulling becomes a waste of time. You get the top of the plant, but many of the tubers and nutlets remain in the soil, ready to re-grow. So if you want to physically remove the nutgrass, be sure to dig out the plant, foliage, tubers and all. If drainage is a problem (compacted poorly drained soils favor nutgrass growth), try to make necessary corrections to eliminate the problem. 2.) For control in the open landscape beds, Glyphosate (Roundup) is your best bet, as it will move down into the tubers and nutlets for complete control. But, it generally will take repeated applications before getting nutgrass totally under control. Spray it, kill it, if it regrows, treat it again, and again, until control is obtained. Remember that Glyphosate is non-selective and will kill what it is sprayed on. Use caution. I take a coffee can and cut out both ends and spay in side this limits the size of the dead area, and Bermuda will reestablish itself, while fescue will not. 3.) For the lawn, there’s a new product available that until recently, only licensed applicators could use. The Active Ingredient is Sulfentrazone and is marketed under a number of different trade names. These products do an excellent job stopping nutgrass in its tracks in the turf. Spot treat the areas infected with nutgrass, not the entire yard. After the nutgrass disappears, keep watch for any regrowth, which may require a second, possibly third application of ‘Manage’. 4.) VERY IMPORTANT FOR OPTIMUM CONTROL - Now here’s the secret for the best success using ‘Manage’ or ‘Roundup’ for nutgrass. Use ‘Spreader Sticker’, which helps these herbicides stick to the foliage of the nutgrass, giving you even better results. It’s a must for spraying chemicals to control nutgrass. Subscribe to Eddy County Ag news at: Eddy County Extension Service, New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator. All programs are available to everyone regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, handicap, or national origin. New Mexico State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Eddy County Government Cooperating.

Governments of Canada and the United States Announce Phosphorus Reduction Targets of 40 percent to Improve Lake Erie Water Quality and Reduce Public Health Risk

Governments of Canada and the United States Announce Phosphorus Reduction Targets of 40 percent to Improve Lake Erie Water Quality and Reduce Public Health Risk New targets to reduce toxic and nuisance algae blooms affecting Lake Erie WASHINGTON.- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna today announced that Canada and the U.S. have adopted targets to reduce phosphorus entering affected areas of Lake Erie by 40 percent. The targets announced today will minimize the extent of low oxygen “dead zones” in the central basin of Lake Erie; maintain algae growth at a level consistent with healthy aquatic ecosystems; and maintain algae biomass at levels that do not produce toxins that pose a threat to human or ecosystem health. Through the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, Canada and the United States committed in 2012 to combat the growing threat of toxic and nuisance algae development in Lake Erie, and agreed to develop updated binational phosphorus reduction targets for Lake Erie by February 2016. The 40 percent reduction targets are based on 2008 loading levels. Canada and the United States have committed to develop domestic action plans, by no later than February 2018, to help meet the new targets. “To protect public health, we must restore the Great Lakes for all those who depend on them,” said Gina McCarthy, Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency. “The first step in our urgent work together to protect Lake Erie from toxic algae, harmful algal blooms, and other effects of nutrient runoff, is to establish these important phosphorus limits. But, establishing these targets is not the end of our work together. We are already taking action to meet them.” The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change said, “Canada recognizes the urgency and magnitude of the threat to Lake Erie water quality and ecosystem health posed by toxic and nuisance algal blooms. By establishing these targets, we strengthen our resolve to work with our American neighbours, and Canadian and U.S. stakeholders who share these waters, to protect the tremendous natural resource that is Lake Erie.” Algae occur naturally in freshwater systems. They are essential to the aquatic food web and healthy ecosystems. However, too much algae, linked to high amounts of phosphorus, can lead to conditions that can harm human health and the environment. Since the 1990s, Lake Erie has seen an increase in algal growth that has compromised water quality and threatens the Lake Erie region’s recreation-intensive economy. The targets were developed after extensive public input from a diversity of sectors. Quick Facts • The 2015 harmful algal bloom in Lake Erie was recorded as the largest bloom this century. • Modeling experts from the United States and Canada used nine different computer simulation models to correlate changes in phosphorus levels with levels of algal growth in order to determine phosphorus load reduction targets. • A binational public consultation process was held between June 30 and August 31, 2015. Final targets were established following widespread support for the draft targets and the target setting process. • More than 40 Canadian and American experts formed a binational team under the leadership of Environment and Climate Change Canada and the United States Environmental Protection Agency to develop the targets. • In Canada, more than 50 individuals, groups and agencies representing Agricultural and other non-government organizations, Conservation Authorities, municipal governments, Ontario government agencies, First Nations, and Universities commented on the draft targets through an on-line tool and face-to-face discussions. R027

The legislature has passed an amendment to the off-road statute (Section 66-3-1011 NMSA 1978 The legislature has passed an amendment to the off-road statute (Section 66-3-1011 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1975, Chapter 240, Section 11, as amended)) that allows usage on paved streets and highways. The bill is sitting on the Governor’s desk for signing. Please contact the Governor’s office and support this bill and ask for her to sign it into law. This is a great step forward against the ever increasing restrictions on off-road vehicle use in rural areas. While we enjoy the new paved section of NM126 overall, it put new impediments for those of us around that area to just move from one part of the valley to another. This looks like a great victory for riders both in our area but also for all you on the east side. I had been working with my Representative Kelly Fajardo before the legislature to ask for a change to the existing law and apparently others had been doing the same across the state. The votes for it in both the Senate and House was overwhelming. However I note that my own Senator for Valencia County, Michael Sanchez voted against it.

Cotton industry feeling the pain of farm bill shortcomings

Back in 2011 or 2012, when Congress began thinking about crafting the 2012 farm bill —which they finally passed two years later as the Agriculture Act of 2014 — commodity prices were at or near record highs, the economy was still struggling to recover, budgets were tight, and no one in Congress wanted to compromise with anyone else to get anything accomplished. In addition to that muddle, the Brazil cotton case before the World Trade Organization had been decided in favor of Brazil, with the United States cotton industry being condemned for manipulating world cotton prices and subject to strict reprisals from Brazil, which could have included much more than cotton, possibly even electronics, intellectual property rights, and a bunch of other stuff. In short, it was a really bad time to be crafting a farm bill to provide a safety net for the country’s most important industry. Some very smart people — economists, congressional staffers, commodity organizations, and others — finally hammered out a farm bill that could pass muster in both houses and be signed by President Obama. It was a different kind of farm program, one that relies heavily on crop insurance, less on guaranteed payments. In retrospect, it’s one of those “it seemed like a good idea at the time” stories. But anyone who has watched agriculture commodities for more than five years understands that high prices can guarantee one thing — low prices. We also know that consistent high yields are as reliable as a Hollywood marriage. World commodity supplies surged, prices dropped, a four-year drought hit much of the country, and what seemed like a great program (it was probably the best that could be hoped for at the time), began to display shortcomings. Cotton took it on the chin, left out of the commodity title altogether to satisfy WTO and Brazil. Now, it has no support payment and only a new insurance offering — the stacked income protection plan (STAX) — available to fill the void in case of price or production losses. A supplemental coverage option (SCO) also is available. China’s reckless purchase of beaucoup bales of expensive cotton, following the commodity’s meteoric rise to $2 a pound, made things worse. China took a lot of cotton off the market for a while, which created an artificial shortage that supported prices for a time, but also put a damper on significant upward movements. And polyester is cheap — even cheaper lately because of the precipitous drop in oil prices. Consequently, the industry is looking for help, most recently asking that cottonseed be designated “other oilseed” by the Secretary of Agriculture, an action that would qualify it for support under the Commodity Title. But so far, no dice. Cotton industry spokesmen vow not to give up, and pledge to continue pursuing the other oilseed option, as well as other avenues of support. They need something. The industry is too important, too big a part of southern agriculture to ignore. Election year politicizing may be a contributing factor, but it’s time to put politics aside and do what’s right for agriculture.


FDA TO TEST FOOD FOR GLYPHOSATE RESIDUES Politico Morning Agriculture The FDA is preparing to test foods for glyphosate as part of its pesticide residue monitoring. While agency spokeswoman Lauren Sucher wouldn't say the reason for the change, she told MA that the FDA in the past didn't have cost effective testing methods, especially for processed foods, which tend to have very low levels of the pesticides. "Recently, the FDA has developed streamlined methods for testing for glyphosate," Sucher said. "The agency is now preparing plans for Fiscal Year 2016 to measure glyphosate in soybeans, corn, milk and eggs, among other potential foods." More:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

RFD ear tags available at resonable cost.

The New Mexico Livestock Board has changed the ear tag required for youth exhibitors, 4-H and FFA this year. As a result Eddy County 4-H Extension had perched a large quantity last year with plans to carry over and use them this year. So we are selling at a reasonable cost RFD ear tags. Contact Allison for more information. 575-887-6595

NM Supreme Cour grants stay on Workers Comp.

Source NM Farm and Livestock Bureau "Daily dirty" Good news for New Mexico's food producers on the Worker’s Compensation issue. Through the direct actions of New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, the Supreme Court has granted a stay on the Court of Appeals decision declaring that the agricultural exemption from Worker’s Compensation was unconstitutional. “Until further order of this Court” the exemption has been restored. “New Mexico’s farm, ranch and dairy families appreciate the court’s action on this issue,” said Chad Smith, CEO of New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau. “Their decision recognizes the care that food producers currently provide for their employees and eliminates the possibility of lawsuits that could have extended back for years.”

Chatting with Chad - Right to Farm Bill

Chatting with Chad - Right to Farm Bill NMF&LB By Chad Smith Thank you. Thank you to those of you who called your lawmakers to express your support as we worked to get SB72 – The Right to Farm Bill, passed. By a vote of 38-29 it made it out of the legislature and the next stop is the Governor’s desk. But it’s not a sure thing. There are lots of well-funded activist groups that are flooding social media with requests that the bill be stopped. You need to be just as vocal in your support of the bill. Why? Because it strengthens protections for New Mexico’s farmers, ranchers and dairy families as you engage in typical agricultural activities and prevents frivolous or agenda driven litigation. In essence, it ensures a successful future for agriculture. So now is the time for us to be our own advocate/activist. Call Governor Martinez at 505-476-2200 and urge her to sign the Right to Farm Bill.

ND sees 14 percent increase in sheep

ND sees 14 percent increase in sheep Brad Gilbertson is optimistic and knowledgeable about North Dakota's sheep industry. But even he was surprised to hear the number of sheep in the state soared 14 percent in 2015, the largest percentage increase in the nation. "Really? It was that much? That's a big increase," the Sherwood, N.D., sheep producer and state Lamb and Wool Producers Association spokesman says of the increase. His best explanation is that a "combination of things," including more young producers, pushed up sheep numbers in the state. The sheep industry nationwide -- which had been in long-term decline -- continued to rally in 2015, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The U.S. had 5.32 million sheep and lambs on Jan. 1 -- up 1 percent from a year earlier. It was the second straight year that sheep numbers rose nationally...more Posted by Frank DuBois at 6:11 AM No comments: Permalink

NM Federal Land Council host meeting.

Lively debate at public lands panel Springboarding local discussion around the possibility of an armed standoff over public lands locally, the “Violent Means to Political Ends … Will Silver City be the Next Burns, Oregon?” community conversation hosted by the Gila Resources Information Project and Gila/Mimbres Community Radio took place Tuesday night in the Global Resource Center Auditorium on the Western New Mexico University campus. Those who spoke touched on topics like peacekeeping, conservation, recreation on public lands, rights and protections as American citizens, and government boundaries. Ranchers expressed frustration; sportsmen expressed fear of public land closures; other locals expressed their personal experiences with those who ranch in this area — particularly with Adrian Sewell and family, who renounced their grazing lease with the federal government, visiting and aligning with the armed protestors in Burns, Ore., last month. Moderator Jamie Newton, host of the “Civil Discourse” show over Gila/Mimbres Community Radio, said he would set a framework to “give this conversation consistent quality of candor and stability,” introducing panelists Kierán Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity; Cissy McAndrew, Realtor and owner of SilverCityTour; Linda Brewer, owner of Bear Mountain Lodge; Jason Amaro of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation board; and Grant County Sheriff Raul Villanueva. Suckling opened with a summary of the events leading to armed takeovers led by Cliven Bundy, which resulted in deaths and arrests in Nevada and Oregon. He said Bundy has a history of turning peaceful protests violent in communities around the nation. “I bring that up to indicate that what we’re dealing with is a very, very potentially serious situation,” he said. Suckling, who recently returned from Burns, said the town was more infiltrated by militia people than the nearby Malheur Wildlife Refuge. “It was very, very scary for the people of that town. … The 12 days I was there, you could see the tension and trauma just increasing.” When the Bundys asked other ranchers to come to Oregon and sign a petition renouncing their grazing contracts with the federal government, the only rancher who did was Grant County’s Adrian Sewell. Suckling said Sewell’s ability to call militia people here could create a violent situation over public lands, but “I believe there’s a tremendous opportunity to avert this,” he said. McAndrew continued, emphasizing her mantra to build community and respect culture. “I feel very close to all cross-sections of the community,” she said. “We’re all independent people. We try to intellectualize and understand each other. We approach things with common sense. I don’t think we live in fear. We recognize we’re perhaps a target area. We need to be progressive and try to offset this.” Brewer, who raises cattle herself, said Courtney Sewell was once a Bear Mountain Lodge employee, but that she has not met her husband, Adrian. “I know Courtney and she’s fabulous,” Brewer said. “It’s not us versus them. We are us.” She said ranchers have been in touch with the panelists this week, and one asked her what she wants for Grant County. “I said, ‘Well, I’m pretty excited about the Continental Divide Trail and we will have to have discussions because it will have those two factions. To make it really happen, we’ve gotta come together on that. And the other thing is I want a USDA inspector-modded slaughterhouse so I can have my cows slaughtered in Grant County. If you go to all the effort to raise really good beef and you have to drive it all the way to Belen and stress out, it is not proper.” Amaro started by thanking the people who established our nation’s public lands legacy. “We’re kidding ourselves if we think this is about us. It’s about our kids and what they’re gonna go through and what we leave to them,” he said. He said several ranchers and sportsmen called him ahead of Tuesday’s conversation. The sportsmen told him they worried they won’t be able to use public lands in the event of a standoff like the one in Burns, while the ranchers said they don’t want to be associated with “any of this craziness.” Amaro said the invitation to be on the panel had him considering which stereotype he would fit for the discussion. “My wife always says I’m a hunting hippie,” he said, urging people to act like we’re all in this together and encouraging the public to work with the appropriate agencies and use the lawful processes of conflict resolution. Villanueva spoke of the need for just law enforcement and pride in community to prevent potentially dangerous situations. “We’re not gonna break the rules for anybody,” he said. Hugh B. McKeen, who owns a forest grazing permit and a Bureau of Land Management grazing permit, said he attended because he suspected the panel would be one-sided, and thinks Suckling is anti-livestock. He said he would be more disturbed by the FBI coming here to settle a dispute than some ranchers. “I don’t know if you’re people afraid of ranchers here. There are several ranchers here. I don’t think anybody’s afraid. They might be armed. It’s just like the deal in Oregon. To me, they’re just ranchers just like here,” he said. McKeen also said he identifies with the Bundys’ frustration. “As a last resort, they do things. We had this go on even around us,” he said, naming individuals — including himself — who’ve fought the federal government for land. “There’s no way you can win in court against the federal government. They set all the parameters by which you can sue them.” Suckling replied by saying, “I don’t think this issue has anything to do with grazing whatsoever. What this has to do with is being able to resolve conflicts and differences of opinion in peaceful manners, and obeying the law and following legal processes versus threatening to kill, saying you’re willing to die, and then making demands and putting a whole community under siege.” Ben Zaslow, a resident of LS Mesa near where Sewell ranches, said he understands the irritation at government overreach, but described a run-in he had with Sewell on the road they both live off, asking the sheriff how he will increase safety in the event of more “felonious” behavior. Villanueva said Zaslow is not the first to report such an incident and that deputies are patrolling that area more than usual now. “We haven’t encountered any other issues in regards to that,” he said, encouraging people to report criminal activity when it happens. Another resident of LS Mesa said he has had pleasant dealings with Sewell and visits his ranch occasionally to get manure for their garden. “[Sewell] said, ‘There has to be a balance in all these different kinds of philosophies and intentions.’ It’s been a little while since I’ve seen him, and I was really surprised when I heard that he was involved in this situation and that he was going up to Oregon. If we could all hold the intention that, in the wee hours of the morning, he’ll have a change of heart and tell those militia guys to go back home and that he could find that balance in himself and go back to the business of raising his family.” Jane Forager Thompson stood up and said her ancestors ranched in this area and elsewhere. “I come from a ranching heritage. I also come from a heritage of peace and conservation,” she said. “There should not be an issue here. Ranchers get a pretty free ride. They buy a little bit of land, and then they can rent the public lands for a little bit of money per cattle and use public lands almost for free for grazing their cattle. That way they can have a much larger ranch than they could possibly buy. So they actually have a good deal. It’s just the attitude of not liking government. We can’t have a civilized society without government,” she said to applause. “We can work this out.” J.C. Nelson stood up later. “I just recently bought one of those cheap forest allotments for $600,000. People wonder why these ranchers get upset. The government comes in and says you can only run half as many cows or whatever, and the banker, they still want their money. And they said take it over here to court, through the process of why you disagree. What are you supposed to do in the year’s time before your payments come up? That’s all I wonder.” A young audience member asked what youths can do to prevent violent situations. Aldo Leopold High School student Sky Fisher said the issues expressed during the forum will affect their future. “My question is what do you feel that us, as the up-and-coming generation, should do to prepare for what is going to happen, or to try and change what will happen?” McAndrew replied and said communicating and striving to understand is what young people can do. “It’s a matter of taking time to sit down with people one-on-one,” she said. Amaro agreed. “You’re doing exactly what you need to do: get out, get engaged and be heard.” Representing the Mimbres Farm Bureau, Don Larson said, “We don’t need an armed conflict in this community. I don’t think it’s likely to happen, knowing the ranchers in this area. The email that I received informing me about this meeting had another email attached to it that stated it’s time to go start shooting cows. Everybody’s worried about the militia, but nobody’s brought up a word about this other group that wants to start shooting cows. Why aren’t they here tonight? Why aren’t they part of this conversation?” Carolyn Nelson, J.C. Nelson’s mother, read a statement from Courtney Sewell: “Just because we took a stand for what we believe doesn’t make us bad people. We love to ranch and we love the land. This wasn’t to keep anyone from using it. We welcome hunters, hikers, bikers. We pick up trash constantly and are trying to keep it nice out there. … Since when does standing for your rights give others the right to threaten your life to the point that it’s not safe to have your children in your home?”

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau offers helping hand through Goliath Relief Fund

New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau offers helping hand through Goliath Relief Fund This was a difficult winter for New Mexico’s farm, ranch and dairy families as a powerful storm caused death and devastation across the eastern portion of the state. “Goliath” brought 80 mile an hour winds and 18 inches of snow the day after Christmas, affecting cattle, sheep and dairy herds. “Agricultural families stick together and help one another out in difficult times,” says Mike White, President of New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau. “There are families experiencing significant financial hardship as a result of the storm so we created a Cares fund.” New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau Cares offers monetary aid for agricultural families affected by the storm. More:

SunZia plan jeopardizes White Sands’ mission

SunZia plan jeopardizes White Sands’ mission By Lt. Gov. John Sanchez / Republican, New Mexico Sunday, February 14th, 2016 at 12:02am At a time when federal funding remains extremely volatile, the importance of maintaining the federal government’s investment in New Mexico cannot be overstated. In addition to serving as our nation’s largest military installation, White Sands Missile Range provides thousands of jobs and pumps hundreds of millions of dollars into our state’s economy. It is estimated that the spending and employment impacts of WSMR contribute $4.7 million to local economies every day, totaling more than $1.7 billion annually. However, following successful efforts by SunZia and its supporters to silence opposition to their proposed transmission line route, the mission of WSMR is now in jeopardy. Contrary to the op-ed submitted by U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich last week, there is no disputing that the current plan to route SunZia through the WSMR Call-Up Area (extension area) will negatively impact the testing capabilities of the range. As a member of the New Mexico Military Base Planning Commission, I have personally visited with our base commanders and officials at the Pentagon, and they agree that the single greatest threat to the mission of our military installations is encroachment. With regards to SunZia, it is widely accepted that the transmission lines would interfere with weapon systems testing. The MIT Lincoln Laboratory report referenced by Heinrich concedes there is no mitigation for that interference aside from burying the lines. In 2013, a Joint Department of Defense and Department of the Interior Technical Working Group concluded: “While the cost to bury 35 miles would be expensive, that cost must be compared to the loss of critical testing capability important to national security. The (Technical Working Group) analysis concludes that the cost to bury the transmission lines is less than the cost to the nation to replace or replicate critical testing activities available at WSMR.” As a result of these reports and other analysis, DOD expressed preference that the entire line be buried or that the route be moved north of the Call-Up Area along Highway 60 and existing utility right of way. However, as the Journal editorial board stated earlier this month, SunZia successfully “steamrolled the opposition,” including DOD, and placed the future mission of WSMR at risk. The reality is DOD does have alternatives for testing future complex, long-range, low-level systems after SunZia is built. This testing can be done at the Woomera Test Range in Australia or it can be done at sea. The problem is New Mexicans will not be doing the work. WSMR is resourced by the Army based on a reimbursable model. Customers pay to use the range and those payments are used for personnel and equipment. If the testing and evaluation work leave WSMR, the resources go with it. Routing SunZia through the Call-Up Area is a lose-lose-lose for New Mexico, White Sands Missile Range and our country. We all agree that New Mexico should explore and develop all energy resources available in the state including oil, natural gas, wind and solar energies. If it is economically viable to harvest high wind energy in eastern New Mexico, we should do it in a way that does not interfere with our national security interests or other economic engines in the state. Consistent with the recommendation of the DOD and DOI Technical Working Group, SunZia should bury the entire route through the Call-Up Area or route the lines without impacting WSMR. It is time we bring all stakeholders to the table – SunZia, WSMR, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the New Mexico State Land Office, and private landowners – to find a win-win solution for New Mexico and the nation.

Grazing Fees See Major Increase; Projected Revenue Reaches a Record of Nearly $11 Million

Grazing Fees See Major Increase; Projected Revenue Reaches a Record of Nearly $11 Million Santa Fe, NM (February 12, 2016) – The New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn announced that the grazing fee for the coming year is set to increase by 24.74 percent. The increase will raise the total income from grazing on state land to a projected $10.84 million. State Trust Lands included in the agricultural leasing program are approximately 8.8 million acres with 3,500 leases, in 32 of New Mexico’s 33 counties. The 2015 grazing fee on State Trust Land was $4.80 per animal unit month (AUM) that took effect on Oct. 1, 2015. The 2016 grazing fee will be $5.99 per AUM, taking effect on Oct. 1st of this year. The current fee formula, which was established and implemented following various hearing and economic studies in 1988 by then New Mexico State Land Commissioner Humphries, takes into account various factors from multiple sources, such as current private grazing land lease rates by western livestock ranchers, beef cattle prices, and the cost of livestock production. “With the trust receiving less revenue because of declining oil prices this extra income from grazing fees is helping curb the shortfall in money flowing to our beneficiaries, which are mainly the public schools of New Mexico,” said Commissioner Aubrey Dunn. He added, “The grazing lessees are the stewards of New Mexico’s State Trust Lands, they are our eyes and ears. Grazing lessees also help provide water for not only livestock but for native populations of wildlife throughout the state. I want to thank our grazing lessees because without them the Land Office alone could not manage our trust lands. We would have to hire more employees for proper management, which in turn creates a higher budget request and diminishes revenue distributions to beneficiaries.” Since Commissioner Dunn took office in January of 2015 grazing fees have increased by forty-five percent. With the new fee an estimated $19.5 million will be received to benefit State Land Trust beneficiaries. The State Land Office is responsible for administering 9 million acres of surface and 13 million acres of subsurface estate for the beneficiaries of the state land trust, which includes schools, universities, hospitals and other important public institutions. ###

Federal Wildlife Agencies Finalize Revisions to Critical Habitat Rules

Federal Wildlife Agencies Finalize Revisions to Critical Habitat Rules Holland & Hart LLP USA February 11 2016 On February 11, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (the "Services") published in the Federal Register two rules and a final policy implementing the critical habitat provisions in the Endangered Species Act (the "ESA"). The first rule revises the definition of the term "critical habitat" and the process for designating critical habitat. The second rule redefines the phrase "destruction or adverse modification" in response to court rulings. The policy explains the process by which the Services may exclude critical habitat from designation. These changes effectively expand the types of habitat that may be designated as critical and may increase the likelihood of the Services concluding that a proposed action will destroy or adversely modify that habitat. As a result, they may impact natural resources projects and stakeholders interested in activities that may affect designated or proposed critical habitat. Section 7 of the ESA prohibits federal agencies from engaging in activities—including permitting, licensing, and funding—that are likely to destroy or adversely modify critical habitat.1 The Services have designated critical habitat for almost half of the more than 1,500 listed species, already covering millions of acres of private and public land.2 In coming years, the Services will continue with the designation process for many of the remaining and newly listed species for which such designation is prudent, which will likely further limit the use and development of natural resources. These new rules will shape that process. Designating Critical Habitat The ESA defines "critical habitat" as "areas within the geographical area occupied by the species, at the time it is listed . . . on which are found those physical or biological features (I) essential to the conservation of the species and (II) which may require special management considerations or protection," as well as areas outside this occupied area that are determined by the Secretaries to be "essential for the conservation of the species."3 One of the most significant changes the Services made to the rule involves the designation of areas unoccupied by the species as critical habitat. Under earlier regulations, the Services only considered designating "areas outside this occupied area" if a designation of occupied habitat would be inadequate for species' conservation.4 Under the new rule, the Services abandon this requirement as "unnecessary and unintentionally limiting."5 Now, all that is required is that the unoccupied area be "essential" to the species' conservation. 6 The Services suggest that this change will allow them to more efficiently and effectively identify valuable critical habitat and to "develop more precise designations."7 That said, it also seems possible that, by eliminating this requirement, the Services will now have greater discretion to designate larger areas of unoccupied land as critical habitat. In the new rule, the Services also define for the first time the phrase "geographical area occupied by the species." It is "the geographical area which may generally be delineated around the species' occurrences, as determined by the Secretary (i.e., range). Such areas may include those areas used throughout all or part of the species' life cycle, even if not used on a regular basis (e.g., migratory corridors, seasonal habitats, and habitats used periodically, but not solely by individuals)." 8 Notably, this definition includes areas where a species is not continuously found, so long as there is "evidence of regular periodic use" during the species' life history.9 As a result, the area occupied by the species is the "broader, coarser-scale area that encompasses the occurrences."10 The Services will rely on the best available science to determine occupancy, including indirect or circumstantial evidence.11 Additionally, under the rule, when the Services make critical habitat determinations after listing, the Services can utilize information acquired since the listing decision, so long as this information indicates whether the habitat was actually occupied at that time.12 The Services also define the phrase "physical or biological features" for the first time to mean "the features that support the life-history needs of the species," which might include water characteristics, geological features, prey, and vegetation.13The definition may include "characteristics that support ephemeral or dynamic habitat conditions."14 Thus, habitat may be designated as critical even if it only possesses the requisite features periodically or if there is a "reasonable expectation" that such characteristics will exist again in the future.15 Similarly, degraded habitat might be designated as critical if it has at least one qualifying feature.16 The Services made minor changes to the term "special management considerations or protections," specifying that the Services will independently evaluate whether physical or biological features require special management even if that area is already under some kind of management, such as a federal land management plan, special area designation, or habitat conservation plan for non-federal land.17 The Services will presume that special management is necessary where significant habitat threats were the reason for a listing decision.18 Redefining "Destruction or Adverse Modification" The second rule redefines the term "destruction or adverse modification" to incorporate the ESA's broader conservation concept, according to the Services. Section 7(a)(2) of the ESA requires federal agencies to ensure that federal actions are not likely to "result in the destruction or adverse modification" of critical habitat of species listed as endangered or threatened.19 The Services previously defined the term "destruction or adverse modification" to mean alteration, direct or indirect, that "appreciably diminishes the values of critical habitat for both the survival and recovery of a listed species."20Under this earlier definition, a destruction or adverse modification only arose if an action impacted both the recovery and the survival of the species. The Fifth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals invalidated this definition as inconsistent with the statute.21 The ESA defines critical habitat as that habitat essential for the conservation of the species, and the courts interpreted "conservation," based on the term's statutory definition in the ESA, as encompassing both survival and recovery.22 Because under the prior regulatory definition the Services would only determine that an action's effects were likely to destroy or adversely modify critical habitat if they appreciably diminished the value of the habitat for both survival and recovery, the courts held that the term allowed for more destruction or adverse modification than the statute permitted. Instead, the ESA proscribes actions that appreciably diminish the value of critical habitat for either the species' survival or recovery. The new rule redefines the term "destruction or adverse modification" to mean a "direct or indirect alteration that appreciably diminishes the value of critical habitat for the conservation of a listed species. Such alterations may include, but are not limited to, those that alter the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of a species or that preclude or significantly delay development of such features." 23 Absent from the new definition are the terms "survival" or "recovery." Instead, the Services uses the broader term "conservation" to capture both of those concepts, as the prior Fifth and Ninth Circuit decisions held that it did. Notably, the Services recognize that critical habitat may include already-degraded habitat that has the potential to support recovery of listed species if developed and improved and that such degraded habitat will generally be considered destroyed or adversely modified if an action "alters it to prevent it from improving over time relative to its pre-action condition."24 This new approach to considering delayed development of habitat features appears to expand the instances in which the Services may make a finding of destruction or adverse modification compared to the agencies' previous practice. The final rule also includes a few changes from the proposed rule. The Services omit undefined terms it considered ambiguous - "conservation values" and "life-history needs."25 The Services also changed the final definition to address concerns from commenters that the proposed rule could be interpreted to allow actions that alter physical biological features.26 In response to these concerns, the Services include language in the final rule explicitly including in the definition actions that alter physical or biological features essential to the survival of the species.27 Policy on Excluding Critical Habitat Under Section 4(b)(2), the Secretary may "exclude any area from critical habitat if [s]he determines that the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying such area as part of the critical habitat, unless [s]he determines, based on the best scientific and commercial data available, that the failure to designate such area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the species concerned."28 The new policy clarifies how the Services will consider excluding critical habitat that is covered by partnerships and conservation plans.29 The factors the Services will consider in an exclusion analysis include whether a critical habitat designation of the area already covered by a plan will impair the realization of expected benefits of that plan, how much the public participated in the development of the plan, the degree of agency review, and the degree to which the plan protects essential physical or biological features for the species.30 When considering conservation plans permitted under Section 10 of the ESA, including habitat conservation plans, safe harbor agreements, and candidate conservation agreements with assurances, the Services will look to whether the sponsors are properly implementing the plans, whether the plan covers the species or, if not, whether the species has similar habitat to the species covered by the plan, and whether the plan specifically addresses the habitat of and meets the conservation needs for the species for which the critical habitat is being designated.31 The policy change also addresses how particular types of land ownership will affect the exclusion analysis. Tribal land will generally be excluded from critical habitat designation unless such designation is critical to the conservation of the species, and the Services will invite the Tribes to participate fully in the determination process.32 Lands under control of the U.S. Department of the Defense will be ineligible for a critical habitat designation if they are covered by an integrated natural resources management plan that provides a benefit to the species.33 Federal lands will, in contrast, be "prioritized as sources of support in the recovery of listed species" and will only be excluded from critical habitat designation in rare instances when national-security or homeland-security concerns exist.34 Conclusion These rule changes and new policy may affect all aspects of critical habitat management, including the initial designation or exclusion decision, consultation over potential impacts to critical habitat, and discussions over minimization and voluntary mitigation of those impacts. By removing the requirement that the Services first consider occupied areas for critical habitat designation before looking to unoccupied lands, and by redefining phrases used in the designation of critical habitat, the Services have expanded the kinds of habitat that may be set aside as critical. Additionally, the Services' broader definition of "destruction or adverse modification" has the potential to increase findings of such impacts. Stakeholders with operations that may affect critical habitat, or who are interested in critical habitat issues, will want to be aware of these new rules and framework, and monitor and participate in critical habitat designations for particular species and Section 7 evaluations of critical habitat to make sure that the Services have accurate and meaningful information to apply in these processes, and that they are applying the new rules appropriately. Holland & Hart LLP - Bailey K. Schreiber, Murray D. Feldman and Sandra A. Snodgrass