Imports, education key topics for cattle growers

By Tony Parra

Phil Bidegain, former president of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, updated eastern New Mexico ranchers on topics ranging from the Canadian border to how to keep local agricultural students in the state.
Bidegain said what he knows up to this point in time on the Canadian border is that the United States Department of Agriculture is still going to have the border open for importing.
Jerry Hawkins, a New Mexico State University recruiter, said New Mexico is losing students to other states such as Kansas and Texas. Hawkins said that a proposal, House Bill 188, is in the state appropriations and finance committee, Hawkins said.
If enacted, the bill would provide $150,000 from the general fund to the board of regents of NMSU for expenditure in fiscal year 2006. The $150,000 would establish a livestock judging program within the college of agriculture and home economics, according to Hawkins.
“Other colleges from different states are competitive for our students,” Hawkins said. “Many students go to Texas and Kansas colleges and they don’t come back.”
Hawkins said one student from Clovis High School decided to go to Clarendon College, then moved on to Texas A&M University and never returned to New Mexico.
Hawkins was recognized in mid-February for his 45 years of recruiting. Hawkins began recruiting students at NMSU College of Agriculture and Home Economics in the summer of 2003, according to a press release from NMSU.
Bidegain also spoke to attendants about a future animal identification program.
“The animal ID is coming whether you like it or not,” Bidegain said. “New Mexico is part of a pilot project with Arizona, Colorado and two Mexican states. We’ll have to see how it goes.”
States such as Kansas have already passed laws to implement state animal identification programs and have begun to move forward with them, according to the American Farm Bureau Web site.