Thursday, July 18, 2019

Udall, Murphy Introduce Bill to Help Beginning Farmers Pay Student Loan Debt

Udall, Murphy Introduce Bill to Help Beginning Farmers Pay Student Loan Debt
Bill would support future of rural America by giving incentives to young people to enter and stay in agriculture

WASHINGTON – Today, as the U.S. Congress begins debate on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) reintroduced the Student Loan Forgiveness for Farmers and Ranchers Act, to create a loan forgiveness program for beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as other groups such as women, veterans, and minority farmers. Student loan debt is a major hurdle for beginning farmers and this legislation will serve as an incentive for farmers to enter—and stay—in the agricultural industry, and strengthen opportunities for farmers to grow successful businesses.
Udall has fought for his entire career to direct important NRCS funds to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. With 1 in 4 producers in New Mexico considered beginning farmers, Udall’s legislation is an important step to not just entice but retain the next generation of farmers.
“New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers are the lifeblood of our rural communities, and it’s vital that we make smart investments to ensure our agricultural sector remains strong and vibrant in the future. But the crushing burden of student loan debt is dragging down too many beginning farmers, and holding back young college graduates from coming home to start their own farms and ranches,” said Udall. “Our bill creates a student loan forgiveness program for beginning farmers and ranchers, making it easier for young people who are interested in farming to focus on pursuing their dreams instead of paying down a mountain of debt. I’ll keep fighting for resources to strengthen New Mexico agriculture and open doors for the next generation of farmers and ranchers to create good jobs, feed our nation, and grow our economy.”

“Farmers are critical to Connecticut’s economy, and we should be doing everything possible to make it easier for anyone to enter the field. As I travel across Connecticut, I consistently hear young people tell me that they want to stay in farming, but thousands of dollars in student loan debt holds them back. This bill will incentivize Connecticut’s new farmers to plant crops, buy equipment, and grow their businesses. Farming is a public service and we should help those who want to help their communities,” said Murphy.
“With the average age of farmers now nearing 60 years, and farmers over 65 outnumbering those under 35 by six-to-one, the next generation of farmers need Congress's support to succeed,” said Martín Lemos, Interim Executive Director of Young Farmers. “Allowing student loan forgiveness for farmers and ranchers will remove a major hurdle our nation’s young farmers face. Student loan debt creates barriers to accessing loans for land, equipment, or start-up costs, all necessary for a thriving agricultural business. We are grateful for this bill’s champions, Senators Chris Murphy and Tom Udall. With the support of Congress, we will encourage those who wish to pursue a career in farming to serve their country by building a brighter future for U.S. agriculture.”
“This is important policy legislation to encourage our next generation of food and agriculture producers to enter into production agriculture,” said Jeff Witte, New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture. “Our nation’s food security will rely on this new generation to feed our communities and provide the basis for strong rural communities.”

Health Illness: It is a HOT topic!

Monthly Safety Blast                 
Produced by the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention and Education

July 2019

Health Illness: It is a HOT topic!

The month of July seemed fitting to talk about heat illness. It’s important to understand what heat illness looks like as well as the precautions one should take to prevent serious consequences. OSHA launched a heat illness campaign in 2011 to help bring awareness to this hot topic. If you live in Texas or experience extremely hot summers, you may have experienced heat illness or heat stroke. 
Three simple words might help you remember what to do to prevent heat illness. 

Water. Rest. Shade. 

According to OSHA, “Thousands of employees become sick each year and many die from working in the heat. In 2012, there were 31 heat-related worker deaths and 4,120 heat-related worker illnesses. Labor-intensive activities in hot weather can raise body temperatures beyond the level that normally can be cooled by sweating. Heat illness initially may manifest as heat rash or heat cramps, but can quickly escalate to heat exhaustion and then heat stroke if simple preventative measures are not followed. Heat illness disproportionately affects those who have not built up a tolerance to heat (acclimatization), and it is especially dangerous for new and temporary workers.”

Remembering Water. Rest. Shade. could help save the lives of your workers, not to mention your life and business. 

An app developed by the OSHA, “allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite, and, based on the heat index, displays a risk level to outdoor workers.” 

Make sure to check on your workers. Heat illness came happen quickly. Know the symptoms listed below.

Download ‘Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness’ in English and Spanish at

The CDC states that some factors that might increase your risk of developing a heat-related illness include:
●     High levels of humidity
●     Obesity
●     Fever
●     Dehydration
●     Prescription drug use
●     Heart disease
●     Mental illness
●     Poor circulation
●     Sunburn
●    Alcohol use

Remember, Heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable if you follow a few simple steps.
●     Stay cool.
●     Stay hydrated.
●     Stay informed.

Air conditioning is the strongest protective factor against heat-related illness. Exposure to air conditioning for even a few hours a day will reduce the risk for heat-related illness.


Monday, July 15, 2019

NMSU, regional agroforestry enthusiasts form Southwest Agroforestry Action Network

NMSU, regional agroforestry enthusiasts form Southwest Agroforestry Action Network
DATE: 07/15/2019
WRITER: Jane Moorman, 505-249-0527,
CONTACT: Caiti Steele, 575-646-4144,

Because of the devastation of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, the agricultural industry has been aware of the impact of over-farming, over-grazing livestock and poor farming practices during drought conditions.

Many conservation practices have been implemented during the past eight decades because of that devastation, including planting trees along fence lines and roads to decrease wind erosion.

During recent decades the practice of agroforestry has evolved to create management systems that combine agriculture and forestry to create productive and sustainable land-use practices. These practices take advantage of the interactive benefits from growing trees and shrubs together with crops and/or livestock.

The National Agroforestry Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, is engaged with seven regional groups of agricultural research scientists, government agencies and environmental enthusiasts that have formed to promote the many practices of agroforestry.

The most recent group to form is the Southwest Agroforestry Action Network, which includes New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah.

In June, New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences was host to the first face-to-face meeting in Farmington where a mission, motto and goals were developed.

“These regional working groups focus on local issues with local people who understand the soils, plants, and the needs and issues in the area,” said Richard Straight, the lead agroforester at the national center. “I’m impressed with the passion of this organizing group and their interest in changing how we produce food in a way that is respective of the land, the people and the water in the Southwest.”

Attending the three-day meeting representing NMSU were Caiti Steele, Southwest Climate Hub deputy director; Andres Cibils, animal and range science professor; and John Mexal, retired forestry professor.

From NMSU’s Agricultural Science Center at Farmington were Kevin Lombard, center’s superintendent and horticulturist; Koffi Djaman, associate professor stationed at the Farmington science center doing research in irrigation and agronomy; Sam Allen, research scientist; Margaret West, research scientist; and Mick O’Neill, professor emeritus.

Also from New Mexico were Steve Kadas, NRCS-New Mexico state resource conservationist; Carol Baba, New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department – Forest Division’s conservation seedling program manager; Kent Reid, New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute in Las Vegas; and Sadie Lister, Indian Nations Conservation Alliance.

“Agroforestry is integration of trees and woody perennial plants on an agricultural landscape benefitting people and the environment,” Lombard said. “It is the multifaceted blending of forestry, agronomy and horticulture likened in some ways to form a permaculture.”

Permaculture is a set of design principles centered around whole-system thinking simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and resilient features observed in natural ecosystems. It uses these principles in a growing number of fields from regenerative agriculture, rewilding, community and organizational design and development.

“There are a lot of ways agroforestry gets implemented besides windbreaks,” Straight said. “Some of the practices include alley cropping, where a row crop is planted among trees; silvopasture, where the deliberate, intensively managed integration of trees and grazing livestock operations is conducted on the same land; forest farming; and riparian forest buffers.”

Through this integration of trees, other crops and animals, there is a beneficial interaction.

“Having a variety of crops on the soil, not just annual crops but perennial as well, we keep the soil covered and protected from wind and water erosion,” Straight said. “There is also a variety of roots and organic matter in the soil, which helps support a broader variety of micro-organisms that live in the soil that help create a healthier soil.”

NMSU has several examples of agroforestry practices at its College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences’ agricultural science centers around the state. Research is being conducted at each center to determine best practices for implementation.