Plan Overview

1. Education and Training: Promote and expand agricultural education and training opportunities as pathways to successful careers in the industry, recognizing that new technologies should be deployed to reach young audiences.
a. Convene stakeholders to develop a framework and possible financing options for a centralized beginning farmer and rancher center at New Mexico State University to coordinate statewide outreach, education and technical services.
b. Increase financial and institutional support for agricultural education in K-12 public schools, including but not limited to existing programs such as Future Farmers of America (FFA) and 4-H. Funding may come from any combination of legislative appropriations, the Public Education Department or private funding.
c. Encourage policymakers to partner with industry in developing an outreach campaign targeting students, parents, teachers and the general public to promote agriculture and food-related jobs in New Mexico.
d. Support the implementation of an ongoing, agricultural dual-credit initiative at NMSU to encourage youth to pursue agriculture as a career.
e. Encourage the states’ departments of economic development, workforce solutions, public education, higher education and agriculture to convene a group to identify effective best practices and incentives for state-approved, industry-led apprenticeship and mentorship programs as well as other workforce development opportunities that expand the state’s food industry. Utilize the proposed NMSU beginning farmer and rancher center to coordinate and professionalize these opportunities.
f. Support and expand agricultural incubator programs throughout New Mexico to provide hands-on training to aspiring farmers and ranchers. Encourage state and local government entities to assess potential locations for new incubation programs.
Agriculture & Food Production; Culture Shift (Good Food Movement); Young, Beginning, and Small (YBS) Farmers; Workforce Development; Training & Education, Agriculture; School Curricula;
University programs; Public Messaging & Marketing;

2. Land Access: Protect agricultural land for future generations, and enable opportunities for young and beginning farmers and ranchers to either own or secure long-term leases to productive, affordable land.

a. Expand the LandLink website hosted at the Mid-Region Council of Governments to cover the entire state. Utilize economic development, federal or other private funds to secure adequate staffing and active matchmaking to sustainably support the website and service.
b. Develop a community agriculture toolbox and training program that supports county and municipal governments interested in protecting agriculture viability plans. These actions would recommend policies and projects aimed at maintaining the economic viability of the agricultural industry and its supporting land base.
c. Minimize the loss of production agricultural lands to encroaching development by urging the state legislature to work with local governments, land trusts and other stakeholders to study low-cost, voluntary farm and ranch protection strategies such as agricultural district programs. Ensure that new or existing programs support beginning farmers and ranchers.
d. Explore how economic tax and other incentives might be used in New Mexico to encourage current landowners to sell or lease agricultural assets to qualified beginning farmers and ranchers.
e. Provide succession and transition planning services to retiring farmers and ranchers to ensure agricultural lands remain in production and viable for future generations.

Land Access;
Preserving Farmland; Financing/Affordability, Land;
Farmland zoning and regulations; Agriculture & Food Production; Farm & Producer Business Support; Young, Beginning, and Small (YBS) Farmers;

4. Water Rights: Ensure that the legal and permitting processes for managing water rights are clear, well-administered and support conservation by water rights owners.

a. Eliminate disincentives to innovation and water conservation by water rights owners. (Examples of disincentives: legal barriers including uncertainty around water rights, local or regional regulatory practices, or common misunderstandings.)
b. Improve administrative processes associated with existing laws:
– Publish clarifying information, released by the Office of the State Engineer (OSE) and/or the New Mexico Attorney General, on the legal provision commonly known as “use it or lose it.” Specifically, clarification is needed on legal and programmatic provisions influencing water rights sales, transfers or leases as described by New Mexico Statue 72-5-18;
– Determine how water users who wish to conserve should demonstrate or prove their pre-conservation water use amounts and thus avoid being later penalized when the water right is sold; and
– Clarify how to make use of existing water laws for groups of end-users (i.e., acequia, community ditch associations, conservancy districts).
c. Expedite completion of the adjudication of active water rights cases.
– Set target timelines for progress, with deadlines, and request the OSE to provide a minimum of annual progress reports to the public and legislature.
– Support the development of a public resource, including consumer-friendly information, on the water adjudication process.
d. Minimize the loss of agricultural water by ensuring that major water rights transfers and water leases from agriculture to other purposes receive adequate public notice and are effectively regulated to consider the needs of downstream users as well as fiscal impacts on state and local governments. It is understood that regions face different challenges regarding future water supply.

Land & Resource Use; Water use;

5. Wildlife Habitat Conservation: Advance a balanced approach to protection of both habitats and agricultural land-use.

a. Promote species conservation and recovery by taking a broad watershed or land management approach to protection (instead of regulating species by species). Potential solutions include reforms to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), state land management policies, or other regulations.
b. Ensure broader local and state stakeholder involvement in land and ecosystem management (including but not limited to ESA compliance).
c. Expand and promote voluntary incentives for endangered species protection on agricultural land.
d. Require fair financial compensation for land owners if their ability to use their land for agricultural is diminished by wildlife protection mandates.

Land & Resource Use; Climate Mitigation; Conservation & Land Management;

7. Watershed Restoration: Advance organized and integrated watershed restoration that promotes multiple uses, with the goals of increased water supply, reduced catastrophic fires, improved soil health and overall healthier environments.

a. Pursue strategies that allow landowners to implement conservation management and protect accompanying water rights for future use.
b. Implement techniques such as:
– Forestry management and thinning;
– Incentivizing restoration of perennial cover crops on agricultural lands for which the water rights are removed (temporarily or permanently);
– Deploying and funding best practices for watershed management and riparian restoration, including appropriate residual biomass standards, erosion control and healthy uplands;
– Erosion control (i.e., low-water grasses and flood control including arroyo management);
– Streambed management and flood control; and
– Removal of invasive plant species that use high volumes of water.
c. Advance soil health and moisture levels through conservation planning that supports rangeland, farming, urban lands and habitats, potentially certified and funded by the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS).

Land & Resource Use; Water use; Climate Mitigation;
Sustainable Agriculture; Agriculture & Food Production; Conservation & Land Management;

8. Resources and Training for Farmers and Ranchers: Increase access to resources, training and technical assistance for producers to get their products to consumers.

a. Address concerns associated with the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and support the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) in the implementation of act.1
b. Provide training for food safety and other certification programs.
c. Develop marketing strategies and training for New Mexico farmers and ranchers so they may better compete with out-of-state producers.
d. Improve producers’ and processors’ knowledge of and access to financial resources including: economic development funding, individual loans and grants.

Good/Local Food Economies; Local brand promotion;

9. New Mexico Branding Certification: Achieve a unified brand for New Mexico agriculture products, and develop an equitable, industry-led process for verification of product authenticity.

a. Identify existing efforts that brand and verify product authenticity, as well as the financial benefits of a verification process.
b. Engage appropriate stakeholders (including government agencies private sector organizations) in deliberations to make consensus-based decisions for a unified brand, and determine a system to oversee the verification process.
c. Identify public as well as private resources and funding for the branding and verification process (e.g., levy a voluntary, self-imposed industry fee to fund verification).

Land & Resource Use; Climate Mitigation; Conservation & Land Management;

10. Infrastructure and Building Capacity for Aggregators, Processors and Distributors:
Identify and increase supply chain infrastructure for small to medium-scale producers of animal products and specialty crops (i.e. cold and dry storage, processing and packaging, transportation and commercial kitchens).

a. Determine strategies to address gaps in the infrastructure compared to producers’ current and future needs (e.g. matching storage facilities with demand, reducing transportation costs, addressing New Mexico’s higher than average trucking taxes).
b. Research market, regulatory and other issues to determine capacity, challenges and opportunities to sustain and grow the facilities in the state.
c. Research the current status of access to meat inspection so that New Mexico can have its own state program for in-state sales, while maintaining the existing USDA inspection program.

Good/Local Food Economies; Supply Chain Infrastructure; Producer market access; Food Processing;
Food Transport;
Food Aggregation & Food Hubs;
Food Storage;

11. Restaurants, Food Service and Retail: Increase local buying and procurement by anchor public and private institutions such as hospitals, school districts, corporations, correctional facilities and senior centers.

a. Educate food buyers in major anchor institutions about the value of buying locally grown food, with the goal of creating a major shift in purchasing behavior.
b. Improve local companies’ abilities to compete with out-of-state suppliers by:
– Identifying policy and procurement code changes affecting public institutions that would incentivize purchasing local food. Examples include setting up a separate bidding process for local food producers from national producers.
– Identifying more purchasing options for private entities. Examples include the “double up food bucks” program which grocery stores can participate in and increase access to local, fresh produce. There are also opportunities for large distributors to purchase locally.
c. Research policies regarding setting percentage goals or requirements for locally produced foods, including:
– Legislative and regulatory examples from other states; and
– Existing laws, regulations, funding and programs in New Mexico.
d. Develop a marketing plan demonstrating the value of buying locally to public and private entities, as well as consumers.

Good/Local Food Economies; Public Procurement; Producer market access; Culture Shift (Good Food Movement); Public Messaging & Marketing; Culture Shift (Good Food Movement); Legislation;

12. Consumers: Increase consumer base and market access locally, interstate and internationally for New Mexico agriculture products.

a. Research consumer purchasing power, demand (potential and real), and barriers to meeting demand.
b. Identify and develop strategies to compete with producers outside New Mexico.
c. Develop targeted marketing initiatives that educate consumers on the value of purchasing New Mexico products.
d. Identify and support programs that assist low-income residents in accessing and purchasing New Mexico food products.
e. Develop programs that educate consumers about cooperative buying power (i.e., groups pooling their purchasing power to negotiate more favorable pricing on goods and services)

Good/Local Food Economies; Culture Shift (Good Food Movement); Public Messaging & Marketing; Food Security; Purchasing Power (consumers); Local Brand Promotion;

13. Food Donation, Reducing Waste and Compost: Manage food surplus through best practices that promote health in all communities, reduce waste, increase recovery, feed animals, and create a nutrient-rich soil product through composting.

a. Build on and expand food donation systems that improve access to food for communities in need, as well as for producers who can repurpose food scrap for livestock or compost.
b. Research existing and new laws regarding when foods (prepared or raw) can be donated, and educate stakeholders accordingly (i.e., food safety rules, safe practices, shelf-life durations).
c. Develop a marketing campaign that educates and guides the public on how to reduce, repurpose and recycle food waste.
d. Support efforts to allow “ugly” produce to be sold at retail and other markets.

Food Waste; Commercial Food Waste;
Household Food Waste; Food Security; Livestock & Dairy

14. Public Relations and Economic Impact: Provide a trusted source of data for accurate financial information on New Mexico’s farms and ranches and their contribution to the state. Deploy this information to facilitate informed debate among the public, policymakers, researchers, tribal leaders, and industry representatives regarding the stability of New Mexico farms and ranches and the provision of a safe, affordable and adequate food supply.

a. Create an agricultural information clearinghouse that supports effective messaging strategies and accurate data dissemination to New Mexico consumers. Include information from multiple sources such as universities, government databases, marketing research firms and polling organizations.
b. Develop and publish a “top ten list” of benefits that agriculture provides New Mexico. The list will reinforce the vital importance of agriculture, build public trust, and reflect agriculture’s positive contributions to the state. The annual list should be supported by accurate, credible data and based on public input, including surveys and focus groups. It should be promoted by NMDA, NMSU Cooperative Extension Service, and other relevant organizations.
c. Invest in multimedia messaging from a third-party group that explores benefits and topics identified in the top ten list. The messaging should present a fair picture of agriculture’s contributions, counter misinformation, and encourage positive relationship building amongst all stakeholders impacted by and connected to agriculture.

Culture Shift (Good Food Movement); Good Food Governance; Local Brand Promotion; Advocacy; Public Messaging & Marketing; Agriculture & Food Production;

15. Workers’ Compensation and Insurance: Develop information and projects that help farmers and ranchers cost-effectively meet new requirements to provide their employees with worker’s compensation insurance.

a. Support and contribute to establishing a self-insurance pool for the agriculture industry. Fund necessary feasibility studies to identify pool options.
b. Request clarification from the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Administration on the application of workers’ compensation regulations to the agriculture industry. Specifically, for the following questions:
– Whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor?
– How workers’ compensation rules apply to absentee owners, and whether these owners may be
held liable in a workers’ compensation suit?
– How to determine which farmer is liable for injuries – or exacerbation of old injuries – suffered by
employees who rotate working on neighboring farms?
– In case of an injury to subcontracted farmworkers, who is at fault – the contractor or landowners?
– For how many months would an employer pay for a worker’s compensation claim?
– Family members and friends often help out on the farm or ranch, and may or may not be compensated financially. Are the considered employees who must be covered by workers’ compensation?
c. Help producers comply with worker’s compensation regulations by providing training on the following:
– Documentation, reporting, process compliance and claim management;
– Staying informed on program changes; and
– Managing employees’ return to work after an injury.

Labor/Food Workers; Worker Safety; Agriculture & Food Production; Farm & Producer Business Support;

16. Agricultural Leases and Lending: Support cost-effective land leasing and lending by helping farmers and ranchers better understand the legal and regulatory issues surrounding these matters.
a. Create a program to provide information on agricultural credit and leases. The program should have an online presence and would address the following:
– Land prices
– Lessors and lessees (including matching programs)
– Legal issues
– Resource directory with contact information for subject matter experts, land-use lawyers, etc.
– Tribal leases including explanations of sovereignty legal issues, federal agency contact information, testimonials from those with tribal lease experiences, and definitions of leasing terms
– Grants and government programs for young farmers
– Mentorship programs viii. Variables for leasing on federal lands
– Current events (including shifts in federal regulations)
b. Protect current agriculture lending programs, including the Farm Credit system, to ensure farmers and ranchers have affordable, consistent lending options that will allow agriculture to stay viable in New Mexico.
c. Encourage federal grantors to streamline agricultural grant application and awarding systems. A more user-friendly approach to federal agricultural grants will allow farmers and ranchers to save time and money when applying for funds they need for their operation.
d. Encourage programs that help tribal members establish collateral to qualify for loans. Many tribal farmers and ranchers have difficulty securing agricultural loans because they cannot use tribal lands or equipment located on tribal lands as collateral.
e. Provide lending institutions clarity regarding their legal and regulatory limits for tribal lending. Often lending institutions lack legal authority to help tribal farmers and ranchers obtain agricultural loans.

Agriculture & Food Production; Farm & Producer Business Support; Land Access; Financing/Affordability, Land;

17. Tax Regulations Impacting Agriculture: Protect existing tax exemptions for agriculture and enact others that fairly keep food costs low while protecting producers’ ability to maintain their businesses.
a. Encourage data collection showing the consequences of proposed changes in tax policy, tax practice and imposed taxes on agriculture.
b. Support studies and tax analysis assessing whether agriculture is more vulnerable to harm compared to other industries and, if so, potential solutions.
c. Provide policymakers and the public clear data that demonstrates how existing tax exemptions minimize the cost of food for consumers and protect producers’ ability to maintain their businesses.

Agriculture & Food Production; Farm & Producer Business Support; Good Food Governance; Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning;

Plan Information

CategoryDatabase entry
Plan RegionNew Mexico
Publication Date2017
Entry reviewed by original authorYes
PDF attachmentView Full Report
Plan TitleResilience in New Mexico Agriculture: Strategic Plan
Author(s)New Mexico First; New Mexico State University
Author Type Partnership
Region Type State
Funding Sources Foundations; State Government
FundersThornburg Foundation; New Mexico Department of Agriculture; W.K. Kellogg Foundation; McCune Charitable Foundation; Santa Fe Community Foundation
Total Project BudgetApproximately $185,000
Plan GoalsReforms to strengthen agricultural resilience in New Mexico; support for the industry from policymakers and stakeholders; and improved understanding by the public about the values of agriculture to the state’s future.
Intended AudiencePolicymakers (governor, legislature), potential funders, ranching and farming communities
Plan Recommendation Structure17 recommendations divided across four focus areas (next generation farmers and ranchers, water and land use, agricultural supply chain, and agricultural economic viability). For each recommendation, the plan offers specific tactics.
Catalyst for PlanUnspecified
Creation Process– Held 13 regional meetings bringing together 600+ stakeholders, including tribal-, rural-, and urban-specific meetings. Additionally, sent out a “youth” survey.- Using findings from these convenings, as well as academic research from the NMSU and the New Mexico Dept. of Ag, New Mexico First staff drafted a comprehensive Background Report (attached) in 2016 to outline priorities for the plan.- Created a 35-member task force to collaborate over 6 months, with four sub-committees: Next generation of farmers and ranchers; water and land use; agricultural supply chain; and agricultural economic vitality.
(p. 5)
An anticipated project plan was included on p. 39 of the Background Report (attached) (2016).
Theoretical Framework(s) Employed  Collective Impact Framework
Theoretical Framework(s): Additional LiteratureUnspecified
Development Timeline2 years
Implementation StrategyThe 2016 project timeline included in the Background Report (attached, p. 39) simply describes the next steps as “advocate for recommendations; secure funding.” In 2017, NM First received additional funding from the Thornburg Foundation to implement the plan by holding monthly meetings for each group. That effort continues today.  NM First has held two large group statewide meetings over the last three years to bring stakeholders together to update the plan.
The first post-publication convening of working group members was held 2 years after publication, in 2019. That report is attached.  
Implementation TimelineUnspecified
Evaluation StrategyEach year when funding (from the Thornburg Foundation) is renewed, a tracking matrix is used to track progress and is shared with stakeholders to help track and populate the progress.
NM First also works with NM State University Extension Service to hold monthly implementation team meetings to implement the plan, hold legislators accountable, and track and update the plan.
International Development Framework(s)None
Current Plan StatusUnknown
Government Adoption StatusUnknown
Government Adoption Status (Notes)
Supplemental Documents View Supplemental Documents