S.W. Colorado Livestock Association holding annual meeting

Ann Neely, Mary Ellen McComb and Joylene Higgins display the Cowbelles brand quilt that will be raffled off at the Southwestern Colorado Livestock Association annual banquet on Saturday, Feb. 8. Tickets for the quilt are $1 for one or six for $5 and are available by calling 970-882-7928, 970-562-4655 or 970-882-4361. The Cowbelle and Cattleman of the Year will also be announced at the banquet. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Ann Neely, Mary Ellen McComb and Joylene Higgins display the Cowbelles brand quilt that will be raffled off at the Southwestern Colorado Livestock Association annual banquet on Saturday, Feb. 8. Tickets for the quilt are $1 for one or six for $5 and are available by calling 970-882-7928, 970-562-4655 or 970-882-4361. The Cowbelle and Cattleman of the Year will also be announced at the banquet.

A “State of the Union” for local agricultural interests will be presented by the Southwest Colorado Livestock Association all day Saturday at the Cortez Elks Lodge, followed by a banquet in the evening.

On Saturday, the morning session will begin at 9:30 a.m. followed with a potluck at noon provided by Southwestern Cowbelles. The Business meeting and election of Directors will be at 1 p.m.. The steak dinner and the presentation of awards for Southwestern Cowbelle of the Year and Stockman of the Year will be at 7 p.m. Dance to the music of “Vanishing Breed” will begin at 8 p.m. From from 3 to 10 p.m. there will be a silent auction to benefit the Scholarship Fund..

“It is an event you wait all year for,” Gordanier said of the festivities. “It’s always a good time to get together and visit, talk business and a little BS.”

The annual meeting will feature political and policy addresses by U.S. Congressman Scott Tipton, Colorado legislator Don Coram, BLM Field Supervisor Connie Clementson, Canyons of the Ancients Monument manager Marietta Eaton, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials, and others.

Association business, including voting in two directors, will go on during the afternoon. Reports from NRCS and Farm Services on the recently passed Farm Bill will also be given.

Then at 7 p.m. the traditional Cattleman’s Dinner will be served up and the Cowbelle and Stockman of the Year will be awarded. After the award ceremony there will be live music from Vanishing Breed and dancing.

“The all-day meeting will be about pending legislation relating to agriculture including water issues and grazing,” said Lynelle Brumley, secretary treasurer for the livestock association. “In between the reports from public land officials, permitees will get a chance to meet one-on-one with BLM staff members for more detailed questions and discussion.”

There are approximately 140 members of the SW Colorado Livestock Association representing Montezuma, Dolores, San Miguel, and La Plata counties.

The group lobbies for legislation and policy favorable to agriculture, and promotes farming and ranching on local boards and committees. Banking members of the association work to provide financing for farm and ranch operations. Directors draft comment letters and position papers that are passed on to lawmakers and public land agencies regarding agricultural issues.

“They work diligently and are a go-between for permitees working with public land agencies on grazing allotments,” Brumley said. “The directors keep up with the issues and represent the interests of agriculture.”

Improving communication and cooperation with public land agencies who manage rangeland relied upon by ranchers is a key goal, said director Drew Gordanier.

“We’re working with the Forest Service on range monitoring programs where ranchers can determine the availability of forage,” he said. “We’re also very involved in animal safety, we sponsor youth programs like FAA and 4H, we promote the beef and all livestock industries.”

Beef cattle prices are the high at the moment due to lack of supply and high demand from population growth, he said. Nationwide cattle inventory dropped to 1951 levels. Drought is also to blame for the lack of cattle on the market, coupled with a recent weather-related mass die off in the Dakotas.

“Most of us are still in the rebuilding stage from the drought. People scaled back. I’m about 25 percent down in livestock inventory from where we want to be,” Gordanier said. “Even with the fall rains, the forest rangeland is not out of the drought, either.”

Cattle ranching is not for the feint hearted, he added. Whether a newcomer to the trade, or a gravel-in-the-gut old timer, there are challenges.

“There is a lack of education about the livestock industry that will always be a challenge. The environmentalists are also quite a challenge,” Gordanier said. “We’re losing experienced ranchers to retirement and not replacing those numbers. It is a tough business to get into for younger people because of the high costs of equipment and animals.”

For ticket information, call 565-1972.

For more information about the event or the scholarship fund, call 565-1972.

jmimiaga@cortezjournal.com

McComb displays a quilt from a previous banquet. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

McComb displays a quilt from a previous banquet.

Sammie Coulon, Ann Neely and Mary Ellen McComb hold up a Cowbelles quilt from a previous banquet. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Sammie Coulon, Ann Neely and Mary Ellen McComb hold up a Cowbelles quilt from a previous banquet.