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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

NMSU Offers Policy Makers Keys to Agricultural Survival

ALBUQUERQUE - With the number of farms in New Mexico and other states steadily shrinking, New Mexico State University invites public policy makers to the first New Mexico Agriculture Keys to Survival Conference April 5-6 in Socorro.

"This is an opportunity for decision makers to learn about the importance of agriculture and how public policy affects producers," said Gerald Chacon, NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service northern district director. "We want to help them make informed decisions."

At the conference, NMSU professors and Extension specialists will give statistical overviews of land ownership and use in New Mexico, explain the economic impact of agriculture on the state economy and show how international trade agreements and changing world markets affect local agriculture. They will also address water use and quality issues, discuss the loss of animal habitat as agriculture and open space shrink and present ways that farmers and ranchers can help protect endangered species.

A panel of Native American, Hispanic and Anglo producers will offer cultural and personal perspectives about the importance of agriculture to New Mexico families. Sociologist Louis Swanson of Colorado State University will also show how adverse policies and rural-to-urban migration affect local customs and culture.

"Many state residents don't understand how fundamental agriculture is to local culture," said Edmund Gomez, director of NMSU's Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs Project. "Rural communities have a basic connection to the land. That social fabric is undermined as farms and ranches come under intense pressure to survive."

Another panel of state, county and municipal officials will discuss local policy issues that affect agriculture. Attorneys Richard Gregory and Matthew McQueen will discuss estate planning and conservation easements for farmers and ranchers. Seth Feedler of the U.S. Department of Agriculture will present a new federal Land Protection Program that provides assistance to producers in semi-urban areas.

Land trust expert Jim McCord and rancher Sid Goodloe will answer questions about placing agricultural land in trust for future generations. Esteban Lopez of the Interstate Stream Commission and Karen Cowan of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association will review the impact of regulatory water policies on producers.

An exhibition gallery will highlight agricultural programs and services.

Although designed for policy makers, the conference is open to the public. It runs from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on April 5 and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 6 at New Mexico Tech's Macey Center. Registration is $20 per day at the door.

For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, call Chacon at (505) 983-4615 or Gomez at (505) 852-2668.