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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Domenici Stresses Federal Support for Farmers and Ranchers in Albuquerque Speech

ALBUQUERQUE -- U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico told members of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) that even in today's new economy, agriculture still "holds a very, very high place in terms of what makes America grow, prosper and thrive."

About 1,500 agricultural agents from across the country are attending the association's annual conference this week at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Domenici, who received the 1997 outstanding leadership award from New Mexico State University's College of Agriculture and Home Economics, addressed NACAA's general session Monday morning.

Domenici recognized that farmers and ranchers are under great pressure because of the global economic slowdown, which has cut demand and prices for U.S. farm goods, plus rising energy costs that lower profit margins. But Domenici said relief is on the way through the $5.5 billion emergency farm assistance package that the U.S. Senate approved Aug. 3.

Federal aid can help agricultural producers weather the current downturn, Domenici said, particularly if farmers and ranchers press forward in modernizing their operations to increase productivity and better compete in the global economy.

"The cornerstone to our future is significant annual productivity gains in every industry, including agriculture," Domenici said.

Innovation is the key to allow U.S. farmers and ranchers remain number one in food production, he said. "We're going to continue to feed ourselves at reasonable costs, and we're going to continue to be the breadbasket of the world," he said.

Domenici told NACAA members he would seek their input for new federal policies to shore up domestic agriculture.

"We'll be looking for new ideas when we put together a new agriculture bill, and who better to ask than you," Domenici said.