For immediate release: Nov. 12, 2014
Katie Goetz, Public Information Officer
A farmer in southern New Mexico’s Mesilla Valley is now a face for all of American agriculture.
Jay Hill, a 30-year-old from Mesilla Park, got the official word this afternoon: the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) has selected him and four other farmers from across the United States to serve as the “Faces of Farming & Ranching”. USFRA flew the five winners out to Kansas City, where the announcement was made.
USFRA tapped Hill and the others based in part on the votes they recently earned on the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance Facebook page. There voters had the chance to watch a video about each candidate; here’s Hill showing his farm and talking about his approach to agriculture.
“I’m ready to talk with people about how I grow their food,” Hill said. “This is an opportunity for me to answer their questions and really bridge the gap between my farm and their fork.”
According to USFRA’s website, the Faces of Farming & Ranching “is designed to help put real faces on agriculture for American consumers. The winners will be active participants in the national dialogue about food production. They will share their personal stories and experiences through public appearances, events, media interviews and social media.”
Hill and the other winners will each be given a stipend to help them travel to and from speaking engagements in such cities as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, Boston, and Austin over the course of the next year.
Since he was 15, Jay has been working at Hill Farms in Las Cruces and at Shiloh Produce in Hatch, increasingly taking on more responsibility and more ownership. Thanks to his involvement in the two farming operations, Jay’s knowledge spans green and red chile, onions, lettuce, pecans, pinto beans, corn, and hay. He’s also building a small herd of cattle.
Hill attended and graduated from New Mexico State University while farming full-time. In addition to working on two farms and commuting between them, he maintains an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more – sharing photos and perspective of life on the farm.
“We’re excited that Jay will soon be talking about New Mexico agriculture to the nation and the world,” said New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte. “He’s ready to make the most of this opportunity, connecting people to the very source of their food.”
Jay has already inspired his wife Katie, a self-professed “city girl”, to start a garden, where she’s proven her green thumb on everything from tomatoes to eggplant, and from jalapeños to mint.
Other winners of USFRA’s Faces of Farming & Ranching program are Erin Brenneman, a pig farmer from Iowa; Darrell Glaser, a turkey farmer from Texas; Thomas Titus, a pig farmer from Illinois; and Carla Wardin, a dairy farmer from Michigan.
USFRA is made up of more than 80 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners representing virtually all aspects of agriculture.