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Research, High-Profile Speakers Round Out Hay Conference

LAS CRUCES - The Southwest Hay Conference Feb. 3-4 in Ruidoso will be packed with alfalfa research and presentations from Gov. Bill Richardson, state agriculture secretary I. Miley Gonzalez and cowboy poet Baxter Black.

The New Mexico Hay Association and New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service are sponsoring the conference, which runs from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 3 and 7:30 a.m. to noon Feb. 4 at the Ruidoso Convention Center.

Richardson will speak at 1 p.m. Thursday. Gonzalez will follow at 1:15.

"We are very honored to have the governor as well as the New Mexico secretary of agriculture at the conference," said Doug Whitney, hay association president. "We look forward to the opportunity to strengthen ties between our governor's office and the economic backbone of New Mexico, which is agriculture."

Thursday's agenda features Ian Ray, an NMSU alfalfa breeder, who will discuss genetics, variety selection and testing. NMSU entomologist Scott Bundy will give an update on the alfalfa weevil. Home economist Marsha Palmer with NMSU's Lincoln County Extension office will give a demonstration on cooking with wild, native foods. Shannon Wooton, Chaves County Extension home economist, will discuss crafts, entrepreneurship and educational issues for agricultural women.

On Friday, NMSU forage agronomist Leonard Lauriault will give a presentation on grazing alfalfa and alternative forages. New Mexico Crop Improvement Association director Charles Glover will talk about a certified weed-free program, and NMSU Extension agronomist Denise McWilliams will give an update on alfalfa irrigation.

Other conference highlights include a pig roast luncheon, an equipment and product trade show, and a Thursday evening buffet featuring cowboy humorist Baxter Black.

A panel discussion/hearing Thursday afternoon will focus on a proposed alfalfa commodity commission. "We are at a pivotal point as a New Mexico crop association," Whitney said. "If we pass this referendum, it will allow us the staff and funding to help fight for the future of New Mexico's alfalfa industry through public awareness and from a legislative standpoint."

Preregistration before Feb. 3 is $55. Registration at the door is $65. Online registration forms are at http://www.nmhay.com.

For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate in the conference, please contact Mary Curtis at (505) 646-1715 or marycurt@nmsu.edu before the event.