Thursday, June 28, 2012

NMF&LB Director testifies in support of HR 4334 Organ Mountains National Monument Bill

Matt Rush, Executive Vice-President of the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, gave congressional testimony on Thursday regarding Representative Steve Pearce’s bill HR 4334, the “Organ Mountains National Monument Establishment Act.” Rush expressed support for the bill because the proposal “has one thing everyone agrees on, from Democrats to Republicans to wilderness groups to farmers to ranchers. They all agree on the one thing that is at the heart of every proposal or piece of legislation introduced, that is protecting the Organ Mountains.”

Rush reminded the committee that several proposals have failed in the past because the land mass was too large and the wilderness designation was too restrictive. “The reality is that the majority of citizens do not want a designation so large that it would take away a full 25% of our county when so much of Dona Ana County and the surrounding area is already under federal control.” Rush pointed out that the federal holdings of White Sands, Fort Bliss, the San Andres National Wildlife Refuge, the Jornada Experimental Range, and existing Wilderness Study Areas leaves only 15% of Dona Ana County that is privately owned.

Expressing support for local ranchers who have long been stewards of the land, Rush reminded the committee that Pearce’s bill clearly defines the rights of ranchers to graze their cattle, protects water rights, and preserves the culture and historical use of the land. Rush expressed concern that the Obama administration would bypass Congressional procedures and “the people's voice will be lost and their needs swept aside with a simple stroke of the executive pen through the Antiquities Act.”

NMF&LB is a 16,000 member family organization comprised of farmers and ranchers, and those who are interested in private property rights and a local food supply.

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