Monday, March 14, 2016

New Mexico ag secretary: Let’s appreciate what farmers, ranchers put on our plates – and into our communities

New Mexico ag secretary: Let’s appreciate what farmers, ranchers put on our plates – and into our communities Milk, beef, chile, pecans…Cheese, lettuce, spinach, grapes…Alfalfa, cotton, corn, onions and more -- what's not to get excited about as spring approaches? Agriculture is alive and well in New Mexico, and the food and crops mentioned here are just a sample of the diverse culture of production that makes New Mexico special. On March 15, we celebrate National Agriculture Day across America. In New Mexico, I’m asking you to stretch the occasion out for the full week. Ag Day/Week asks us to recognize the important contributions farmers and ranchers make to our dinner plates and local communities. The food on your plate doesn’t just happen. After many months of care and nurturing by people who truly care about our health and safety, the crops grown become our breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and don’t forget snacks). Additionally, our communities thrive from the stable economic impact of agricultural production, as well as the green space it creates. Agriculture in our state is as diverse as our people. Our rich agricultural history begins with corn, which was harvested in New Mexico by 4000 B.C. Squash and beans were being harvested by 3000 B.C. The Mogollon Indians developed primitive irrigation systems by 2300 B.C. Today we continue to utilize traditional acequia systems, as well as highly sophisticated satellite-controlled irrigation networks. Our cultivation of traditional native crops is as important as the cultivation and harvest of new varieties in our quest to feed people both here in New Mexico and elsewhere. This week, take a look at your plate and try to visualize the people who produced the food on it. Fill your glass with some of the highest-quality milk produced in the nation, and if you’re of age, raise a glass of New Mexico’s award-winning wine or beer in a toast to the people who produce the things we love to eat and drink. As President Thomas Jefferson once said, “agriculture is our wisest pursuit…and cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizen”. Happy Agriculture Week, New Mexico! Enjoy all it has to offer. Jeff M. Witte New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture

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