This is Part Five in a series on the Virginia Range horses and the Nevada Department of Agriculture. To understand the context of this report, please start at Part One.
THE CRITICAL EFFECT|
OF PUBLIC PERCEPTION
Did you know?
The Mustang is the official state horse ... in North Carolina.
How is this relevant to Nevada?
To be blunt, Nevada is in the toilet with respect to economic recovery. To cite just three examples, Nevada leads the nation in percentage of jobs lost. Nevada has the nation's highest unemployment rate. Nevada leads the nation in home foreclosures.
Link: Nevada Won't See Recovery Until After 2017
The experts at Brookings warned that Nevada has to revitalize its tourism sector in order to have any chance at a successful economic recovery. Why? More than 40% of the state's jobs and private sector payroll depend on the tourism industry.
Tourism is unquestionably "Job-1" in Nevada.
Link: Gaming is More Than Just a Game
North Carolina should have also been hit hard. Its huge tobacco industry has been under attack. Its textile, furniture and pulp industries have moved overseas. However North Carolina focused on developing its strong suits, among them being the wild horses found on North Carolina's Outer Banks.
In 2011 the Corrola Wild Horse Tours were ranked as the region's number 1 tourist attraction. The North Carolina Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a resolution that was signed into law by Governor Beverly Perdue declaring the mustang as the Tar Heel State's official "state horse." Officials in North Carolina understand the affection that most Americans have for horses. North Carolina is one of the leading states in recovering from the economic crash.
In Part Two of this series we illustrated the negative impact that Nevada's approach to horses has had on this state's tourism and related revenues. It is little wonder that Nevada lags behind the rest of the nation so badly, to the detriment of the Silver State's citizens.
Clearly the horse issue is not the only subject that affects tourism related prosperity, but there is increasing data that correlates how the public views how horses are being treated and their destination decisions. Oftentimes subtle positive or negative feelings influence the degree of enthusiasm that tourists feel about a state or region.
How do people outside the state perceive what's going on in Nevada? One good gauge involves political cartoons. The following cartoon surfaced "back east" and addresses the Sandoval Administration's approach to the Virginia Range horse issue - selling historic Virginia Range horses at the livestock auction where they are likely to end up in Mexican slaughterhouses.
Agriculture is important. Everyone needs affordable food. However when the careless actions by the director of a relatively minor department negatively impacts Nevada's largest economic sector, things are badly out of balance. The costs associated with properly managing the Virginia Range horses are insignificant when compared with the state's economic losses when just a small percentage of people say, "I don't like what's going on in Nevada so we'll vacation somewhere else this year."
The actions taken by Director Barbee are resurrecting conversations that it might not have been a bad idea to "demote" the Department of Agriculture to a division within the Department of Business and Industry. Such a reorganization will save taxpayers some money and the person in overall charge would possess a more "global view."
Nevada can't afford a repeat of April, 2011. It looks like the state is headed there. We wonder how many additional jobs south state legislators might see lost in their districts if there is another negative public reaction.
We'd prefer that the Nevada Department of Agriculture gets its house in order and we don't find out if history will repeat itself.