EL PASO — State representative Mary Gonzales of Clint has proposed legislation in Austin that would allow dairy farms to conduct business once again in El Paso County.
For more than a decade, dairy cows have been banished from the county, after a scare involving bovine tuberculosis, a disease which can be transferred to humans. Since then, local diaries have either disappeared or gone to great lengths to modify their business.
The Licon Dairy in San Elizario still makes its distinctive cheeses in the San Eli kitchen, but the cows themselves are now 40 miles away in Fort Hancock. A Licon dairy truck drives 40 miles one way to collect milk in the morning, and 40 miles back to the family-run dairy to begin the manufacturing process.
Licon manager Angel Licon believes that the return of dairy cows to the county would be very good for the local economy, not just through easier manufacturing of dairy products, but also in crops that feed the cows, and in an increase in local jobs.
The Gonzales proposal is in the early stages and she does not expect dairy farms to be reinstated in El Paso County any time soon.