November 15, 2003
Nov. 2003 -- New Mexico sheep producers Tom and Pam Runyan of Mayhill, N.M., were amongst the select few chosen to meet with Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman during a brief meeting on Oct. 1, 2003, in El Paso.
During his allotted two-minute presentation, Tom thanked the secretary for the $8 million in payments for Year 4 feeder, slaughter and ewe lambs the department began issuing on Sept. 29, 2003. He also thanked her for the department?s work on the scrapie program, noting its importance in strengthening export opportunities for the U.S. sheep industry, and urged the department to remain aggressive on sheep-health issues.
Runyan noted the importance of USDA?s Wildlife Services program, adding that increased funding for livestock protection is needed, not only for alleviating high depredation numbers, but also in leveling the playing field between the United States, New Zealand and Australia sheep industries, as the latter two have dynamic predator-management programs.
Runyan thanked the secretary for the department?s work in the reopening of the Mexican border for old ewes. He also stressed the need for improved drought compensation, noting the severe effect of the drought on New Mexico livestock operations.
?Most have severely scaled back sheep and cattle numbers to deal with the worst drought to hit the state in almost a century,? said Runyan, noting that Australia and New Zealand have comprehensive drought programs and are looking to expand their presence in the U.S. lamb marketplace. ?We need more help because the drought in New Mexico is of biblical proportions.?
The Runyan?s attendance at the meeting was made possible by Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers? Association, who successfully obtained invites for various livestock producers. Cowan is the former executive director of the New Mexico Wool Growers Association.