After several months of working with the Obama administration, U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall today announced that a cattle gate in Columbus is being reopened. The gate was closed since March due to U.S. Department of Agriculture's decision to restrict its veterinarians from crossing the border because of safety concerns.
New Mexico ranchers purchase "feeder" cattle from Mexico to supplement their herds; additionally; other animals are transferred through the crossing. Before animals are allowed to come into New Mexico, they are first inspected by a USDA veterinarian to ensure they are disease-free. The decision to close the gate at Columbus places a significant burden on New Mexico ranchers and resulted in a temporary loss of 20 jobs in Luna County.
In letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, CBP Commissioner Aguilar and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and in subsequent phone calls, the senators asked for the three federal agencies to find a resolution to the problem that satisfies safety concerns as well as the needs of New Mexico ranchers.
"I am glad the Obama administration found a solution that makes sense for USDA veterinarians and our state's ranchers," Bingaman said. "This is good news for Luna County."
"The reopening of the port of entry to cattle crossing is a huge win for the local community and their economy," said Udall. "There has been wide attention to the issue of safety at the crossing and I appreciate the work of all parties to ensure livestock can again be inspected at the Columbus port of entry."