N.M. ranchers fighting feds over herd reduction orders

Ranchers in New Mexico are butting heads with the U.S. Forest Service over compliance with Annual Operating Instructions. The AOI is part of the grazing permits in New Mexico that provide guidance on livestock numbers, period of use, pasture rotations, monitoring, and range improvement projects.

On July 8, Spike and Kelly Goss, whose family has ranched in the Sacramento Mountains for over 100 years, were ordered to reduce their herd from 412 head to 103 head within a year, according to an article in AgDaily.

The Goss family is charged with over-grazing of forage.

This isn’t the Goss family’s first rodeo, according to their Facebook page they have been the target of the U.S. Forest Service for more that 20 years. “…their saw mill has been put out of business using the Spotted Owl, cattle numbers cut and now their water rights are being stripped because of the Meadow Jumping Mouse.”

Sounds like yet another case of government overreach.

The ranchers argue an elk herd that has grown too large is to blame for the overgrazing and the rampant use of ATVs and UTVs are damaging the grazing lands. The USFS is supposed to keep the elk population at 1,000 head but the Goss’s say there are about 18,000 elk in the area.

The Goss family also has issues with the methods used to determine their AOIs.

Kara Cochran, daughter of Spike Goss, “detailed an incident where range specialists were collecting grass samples and intentionally measuring areas covered with gopher mounds. She said, “These types of biased data gathering — this is the kind of information they’ve been using to say that they scientifically need to remove cattle. It’s wrong, and it’s not working,” according to the AgDaily article.

I can’t imagine being a rancher in New Mexico dealing with drought, wildfires and wolves and at the same time fighting the federal government.

The Goss family and New Mexico ranchers have been holding rallies and are making a documentary, titled “Ranching UNCANCELED Documentary” to bring awareness of the federal government’s overreach. The documentary is being done for free but to cover travel expenses and other costs associated with the production, they are asking for donations through a GiveSendGo account at

I’m sure there are plenty of ranchers in other states who have encountered government overreach and this won’t be the last fight. If you want to learn more about this situation and/or to support the Goss Family, go to their Facebook page at

In other news, the Iowa Utilities Board is investigating the disposal of old wind turbines that are piling up in the state.

Successful Farming reported that, “Global Fiberglass Solutions, a Washington state-based company, accumulated about 1,300 blades at three sites in Iowa at Atlantic, Ellsworth and Newton.”

As I have mentioned earlier, similar piles are scattered throughout North Dakota as well.

Although these spent turbines — made of reinforced fiberglass — are difficult to dispose of, there are some entrepreneurs out there that have come up with ways to recycle or repurpose them.

I suspect that the responsible parties probably don’t want to spend the money to dispose of those wind turbines properly.

Other states should follow Iowa’s lead and make sure that these piles of turbines, which are eyesores, are taken care of before the situation gets out of hand.


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