Thursday, March 24, 2016

New Mexico hosts agricultural institute to prep future farmers, ranchers

New Mexico hosts agricultural institute to prep future farmers, ranchers AgriFuture Educational institute to be hosted in Las Cruces, May 16-18 (LAS CRUCES, N.M.) – New Mexico’s current and future farmers, ranchers, and others in agriculture are invited to a conference aimed at informing, inspiring, and connecting those who will produce our food and fiber (cotton, wool, etc.) going forward. New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) and a dozen other agencies and organizations involved in New Mexico agriculture are coordinating and hosting the 2016 AgriFuture Educational Institute for beginning/future farmers and ranchers, as well as those aiming for other careers in agriculture. The institute will be hosted May 16-18 in Las Cruces. According to USDA’s most recent agriculture census, New Mexico saw a slight uptick in the average age of farmers in New Mexico from 59.6 years old in 2007 to 60.5 years old in 2012. At the same time, however, the census showed a dramatic increase in the number of people age 34 and younger who are agricultural producers, from 818 in 2007 to 1,200 in 2012. “The AgriFuture Educational Institute really tries to harness both of those trends, because what lies between them is the opportunity to transfer agricultural knowledge,” New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte said. “We want to bring together experienced farmers and ranchers, and those who are just now entering the world of agriculture or who want to enter it soon.” The institute is open to future agricultural producers age 40 and under; veterans are encouraged to attend. It is also open to current agricultural producers of all ages in hopes that they will serve as mentors going forward. A variety of agricultural topics will be addressed in the breakout session piece of the institute. Then attendees will board several buses to take private tours of a wide variety of agricultural businesses in and around Las Cruces. The 2016 event builds on the success of the inaugural AgriFuture, which was hosted in 2014. A mix of 200 current and future agricultural producers attended, including rancher and New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts executive director Debbie Hughes. “The one-on-one conversations that we were able to have during the dinners [sponsored by current farmers, ranchers, and agribusiness leaders] is what stands out in my mind from AgriFuture 2014,” Hughes said. People can register to attend at http://2016-agrifuture.eventbrite.com, where event updates will soon be posted (as well as at www.facebook.com/NMDepartmentofAg). The registration fee for future agriculture producers is only $50 for the Institute and includes lodging. The fee for current agriculture producers (those who can potentially mentor beginning farmers and ranchers) is only $100. The deadline to register is April 29. Institute activities are being planned by NMDA and several of the state’s agricultural organizations: Ag New Mexico Farm Credit Service, Dairy Producers of New Mexico, Farm Credit of New Mexico, New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts, New Mexico Beef Council, New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service, New Mexico Wool Growers Inc., USDA-Farm Service Agency, and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. Institute activities are also being funded by these and other organizations, as well as a long list of individuals. To help sponsor the institute in any amount, please call NMDA at 575-646-3702. ###

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