NMDA recognizes two New Mexicans for decades of contributions to state’s agricultural community

Bob Porter, Frank DuBois each receive Secretary’s Legacy Award

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) – New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte has awarded the 2014 Secretary’s Legacy Award to two people who once led agricultural organizations within New Mexico.

The Secretary’s Legacy Award recognize those who have made a lifetime of contributions to New Mexico agriculture.  This year, Witte named two recipients, Bob Porter and Frank DuBois, during NMDA’s annual conference.  Porter was on hand to accept his award, while seasonal flu kept DuBois from being able to attend. 

“Bob Porter and Frank DuBois are legends within New Mexico agriculture,” Witte said.  “Both have lived some interesting times in agriculture.”

Porter grew up on a cotton and alfalfa farm in Salem, N.M., where his father at one time utilized the labor of German POWs stationed in nearby Hatch.  He then came to what’s now New Mexico State University (NMSU) to study agriculture and play Aggie basketball.  After a tour of military duty, Porter went to work for the Doña Ana County Farm Bureau.  There, he administered the state’s largest bracero program, which ended when farmers began to mechanize.  He later went on to lead the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau for more than a dozen years.  Porter helped establish several scholarships at NMSU, both for students in plant and environmental sciences and for student-athletes on the Aggies men’s basketball team.  He is married to Laura; his daughter Brenda is also very involved in the NMSU community.

DuBois served as the New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture under four governors for 15 years, from 1988 to 2003.  He worked his way up at the department from field inspector to agricultural policy specialist to assistant director and finally to director/secretary.  He also served as a legislative assistant in the U.S. Senate and as Deputy Assistant Secretary with the Interior Department.  DuBois has founded a couple of awards: the Rounders Award recognizes New Mexicans whose work contributes to Western culture; and the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship has helped NMSU build a strong program around its rodeo athletes.  Having grown up on a ranch in Corona, Frank himself competed as a rodeo athlete for years.  After retiring from NMDA, he started up a blog called The Westerner.  In the more than 10 years since, DuBois has been blogging about The West in general, and property rights, water rights, and livestock grazing in particular.  Frank is married to Sharon, and they have two kids and several grandkids.

Witte said the contributions that both Porter and DuBois have helped New Mexico agriculture become the strong community it is.  The sale of raw agricultural commodities grown in New Mexico contributes more than $4 billion a year to the state’s economy.  That figure becomes much higher when you consider the value that gets added to the system when, say, milk is processed into cheese and when chile is processed into enchilada sauce.