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Navajo ranchers want imported beef labeled

CROWNPOINT, N.M. — Continued drought and lack of precipitation in the Southwest has forced rancher Majorie Lantana to reduce the number of cows at the ranch she leases from the Navajo Nation.

The ranch, registered as the Pitts Ranch 4, is located about 15 miles from Crownpoint. Lantana said the ranch allows for 64 head of cattle but she has had to reduce that number several times because there’s limited grass on the range.

“There has been very scattered rainfall in the past six months,” Lantana said during a recent phone interview with the Gallup Independent. “Right now I can only run 29 heads, and I supplement.”

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Drought not the only concern

Lantana said she is a member of the New Mexico Beef Council and the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association. It is through these circles that she learned that beef from other countries is entering the United States and getting repackaged and labeled as a USA product.

This, she said, is adding more challenges to a market already impacted by drought and pandemic lockdowns and regulations. It is adding more stress to ranchers and beef producers as they have to compete with cheaper products.

“New Mexico ranchers are very opposed to this,” she said. “We are in support of raising cattle for profit.”

Lantana expressed her concerns to Navajo Nation Council Delegate Edmund Yazzie, who represents several communities of the Eastern Agency on the Navajo Nation Council.

Yazzie said he had already heard from other ranchers about the imported beef issue and was informed that New Mexico Sen. Ben Ray Lujan had joined other members of Congress to cosponsor the America Beef Labeling Act of 2021.

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