Serving the High Plains

Quay approves meat inspection resolution

The Quay County Commission on Monday approved a resolution that urges the reinstatement of a state meat inspection program in New Mexico.

The resolution states meat animals in New Mexico account for $824 million in cash receipts annually, but about 80% of the meatpacking industry is concentrated among four companies.

“For decades this concentration has limited the income of cow-calf producers and others in the food chain,” and “the pandemic of 2020 has pointed out the ills of this pack concentration for meat producers and consumers alike,” the resolution states.

The resolution also notes consumers are demanding to know the origins of their food and show a preference for locally grown meat, but “New Mexico does not currently have a regulatory process in place” for such products. It added “the current system fails to support New Mexico meat producers.”

County manager Richard Primrose said meat processing in the state is “minimal” and is being performed out-of-state, with production backlogs that hurt ranchers. The state meat-inspection program ended during the tenure of Gov. Bill Richardson, from 2003 to 2011.

New commissioner Jerri Rush initially expressed skepticism about the resolution.

“It means nothing,” she said. “Why do we do this?”

Primrose said if more county commissions around the state passed similar resolutions, that might persuade lawmakers to enact laws that would reinstate the program.

State Rep. Jack Chatfield (R-Mosquero) told the Quay County Sun earlier this month he is co-sponsoring a bill that would enable the New Mexico Livestock Board to perform meat inspections and it would be one of his top priorities in the current 60-day session.

Rush seemed satisfied with Primrose’s explanation and voted to approve the measure.

In other business:

• Christopher Birch, administrator of the Quay County Detention Center, said during his annual report the 10th Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Tucumcari soon would buy two types of ankle monitors for detainees.

One type can sense when the wearer is drinking alcohol, which would be ideal for detainees released on condition they not imbibe. The other type of ankle monitor, Birch said, provides 24-hour monitoring through a global positioning system and emails or texts the police department and victim if he or she strays outside of a permitted area.

Primrose said such monitors would make it cheaper to keep tabs on criminals than housing them at the jail. Quay County also would be a fiscal agent for other counties that would use the monitors, including De Baca, Harding and Union.

When told inmates are mandated to be released from their cells two hours a day, Rush noted that was better than many elderly people who are “locked up” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

• During his monthly report, county road superintendent Larry Moore said he heard “scuttlebutt” from state Department of Transportation officials the agency likely would issue a call for $40 million in projects in fiscal year 2022. Moore said such proposals would need to be “project ready.” He said if such a call comes to pass, he would submit a request to replace a second 1930s-era bridge on old Route 66 between Endee and San Jon. Replacement of a similar bridge several hundred feet away is scheduled to begin later this year.

• Commissioners approved the second-quarter report from the Quay County DWI program Administrator Andrea Shafer, who noted six driving-while-intoxicated offenders were referred to her office from October through December. Sheriff Russell Shafer and Primrose said later in the meeting the usual number of DWIs per quarter was 15 to 20, but the total in the most recent quarter was depressed by the pandemic.

Later in the meeting, commissioners approved the DWI distribution quarterly financial report, of which the county’s share for the program is about $12,000.

• Jason Lamb, Quay County Extension agriculture agent, presented his office’s quarterly report from July through September. Lamb noted many events and competitions were held virtually because of the pandemic. He also said the Tucumcari office has only one person at a time there to lessen the risk of spreading the virus.

• Commissioners approved county finance director Cheryl Simpson’s request to pass a resolution that adopts procedures to comply with state law regarding annual audits, summary minutes, monthly budgets, financial reports and monthly warrants lists being public record and meets revenue and expenditure requirements. The commission approved a similar resolution during an earlier meeting, but Simpson said she erred by using an already existing resolution number.

• Commissioners approved a proclamation, requested by a constituent, that states May would be Motorcycle Awareness Month.

• Commissioners approved about $2,100 in claims for the Indigent Claims Board.

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