Meeting focuses on state agriculture system

Noel Lyn Smith
New Mexico First Deputy Director Charlotte Pollard speaks Wednesday during a Resilience in New Mexico Agriculture regional meeting at the Farmington Civic Center.

FARMINGTON – New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Services and New Mexico First are seeking input from farmers and ranchers to develop a strategic plan to maintain a resilient food and agriculture system in the state.

The two-year project is called Resilience in New Mexico Agriculture and will result in a report on the state of agriculture in New Mexico and the formation of stakeholder groups committed to implementing plans that result from the project.

The regional meeting will start at 1 p.m. Friday at Diné College's south campus in Shiprock. Lunch is included, and service will start at noon.

David Kraenzel is part of the research faculty at the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business at NMSU. He participated in a similar regional meeting here on Wednesday. The entities want to develop a resilience plan that would be capable of withstanding new challenges and advance new successes in agriculture, Kraenazel said.

As part of the project, the group is holding 13 regional meetings in order to solicit opinions from farmers, ranchers, commercial producers, researchers, advocates, government employees and others about the issues facing the agricultural sector.

"We want input from all segments of the agriculture economy," Kraenazel said.

In addition to meetings in Farmington and Shiprock, they are having a meeting on Thursday in Crownpoint. Previous meetings were held in Roswell, Las Cruces, Albuquerque, Laguna, Silver City, Abiquiu and Taos.

The need for the study comes from the challenges of developing a food and agricultural system that is not heavily dependent on outside resources and having communities become more independent in the local production of healthy foods, he said.

State Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec, center, participates in a group discussion Wednesday during a Resilience in New Mexico Agriculture regional meeting at the Farmington Civic Center.

During the meetings, participants talk about issues such as how changes in agriculture can produce food, and how farmers, ranchers and commercial producers address drought and climate change.

“The best way to do this is to go to the people that are involved in the industry and say, ‘What’s the most important trend in agriculture?’” Kraenzel said.

Those trends include the positive, such as the current focus and attention on agriculture, and the negative, which includes complying with increasing government regulations.

Consumers also are seeking more information about the methods and techniques producers use to grow produce, he added.

“They want to know what they are eating,” Kraenzel said.

Pre-registration for the regional meeting in Shiprock is encouraged. To register, contact New Mexico First Deputy Director Charlotte Pollard at 505-474-4228.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.