NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center




Outreach agricultural specialist brings industrial farm experience to small farm projects

ALCALDE ? When you meet Del Jimenez, you might find there is more to him than meets the eye.


Man in gray shirt
New Mexico State University agricultural specialist Del Jimenez received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents for his 21 years of work with small-acreage farmers in northern New Mexico. (NMSU photo by Jane Moorman)

The New Mexico State University agricultural specialist appears to be just one of the farmers he is working with during a hands-on workshop. However, it?s soon clear he is a wealth of information and will give you a straight answer when asked for his opinion.

Jimenez has been with New Mexico State University for 21 years, since joining the Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs Project that is housed at NMSU?s Sustainable Agriculture Science at Alcalde in northern New Mexico.

Even though he is stationed five hours from Las Cruces, he has also been actively involved in campus committees and recently completed six years on the Faculty Senate.

When it comes to what he likes about his job, he?s quick to answer: ?I like the people and networking with them. I like going out and helping people in little towns to make their lives better by increasing the income they make through a farming or ranching operation.?

His work in the Extension Service has been honored at the state and national level, including the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.

?That?s the highest honor you can get in our profession,? he said.

His work has been in three main categories ? livestock, construction and agricultural economics. He is a hands-on teacher, whether it?s showing ranchers how to conduct pregnancy tests on their cows, or helping farmers learn how to build a hoop house to extend the growing season for their crops.

But what people don?t see or know is the adventurous life he lived in South America before joining NMSU?s faculty.

?I worked for the richest man in the world, D.K. Ludwig,? he said of the billionaire who was No. 1 on the first Forbes 400 ?Richest Americans? list in 1982.

?I began at Hato Vergarena, one of the largest ranches in Venezuela. We had 56,000 head of mother cows on the 750,000 acre ranch.?

He also worked at Ludwig?s Jari project in Brazil, along the Amazon and Jari rivers, which produced pulp paper and included a complete modern city for 30,000 residents.

?The primary crop out of the three-million-acre farm was timber,? he said. ?The trees were planted in rows and looked like corn when you flew over the fields.?

Then it was on to operations in Panama, Honduras and Costa Rica. ?I became a trouble shooter for Ludwig,? he said. ?I?d go into ranch operations just to resolve problems.?

After leaving Ludwig?s organization in the mid-1970s, Jimenez farmed and ranched in Venezuela.

?I had a big farm and cattle ranch down there,? he said. ?It was easy to get started. There are a lot of opportunities in those South American countries, but there are a lot of risks. Eventually, the risks can catch up with you.?

Jimenez returned to the United States in 1990 and worked with Martori Farm in Arizona, one of the largest melon producers in the U.S. His path to NMSU also included working at Peidmont Farms in Colorado, a 7,000-acre organic operation, and Burris Farm in West Texas.

It is that 20 years of experience that Jimenez brings to his Cooperative Extension Service position.

?When you work with big farms, you get a lot of experience. I learned a lot and now the Extension work ties right into that experience,? he said. ?The biggest difference in my South American experiences and now is the size of the farms. In northern New Mexico, the question is how to make small acreage pay. So you have to be very creative to find ways to generate good income off of the land.?