State’s top agriculture official to visit southeastern New Mexico following record snowstorm

Agricultural impacts still being measured as dairy farmers, ranchers focus on animal care

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) – New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte will visit southeastern New Mexico this week to talk with dairy farmers and beef cattle ranchers impacted by the record snowstorm that hit the region late last month.

Witte will join officials from New Mexico’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) – state executive director Molly Manzanares and program specialist Emaleta Mooney – at two informational meetings organized by Dairy Producers of New Mexico (DPNM).  The purpose of the meetings is to discuss disaster programs with dairy farmers, as well as ranchers and other affected agricultural producers:

  • ROSWELL: Wednesday, Jan. 6 at 11:30 a.m. at the Chaves County Extension Office at 200 E. Chisum St., Ste. 4
  • CLOVIS: Thursday, Jan. 7 at 11:30 a.m. at the Clovis Civic Center at 801 Schepps Blvd.

Witte and other leaders within New Mexico’s agricultural community are still urging those who suffered livestock or other agricultural losses in the storm to contact their county FSA office to notify that agency of losses.

“That will allow these farmers and ranchers to start the process of accessing federal programs that could help cover some of their livestock losses if they’re eligible,” Witte said.

Witte and his staff continue to coordinate with a variety of entities, including:

  • DPNM, New Mexico Cattle Growers Association (NMCGA), and New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau
  • The New Mexico Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management and the New Mexico Department of Transportation
  • USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA)
  • County extension agents, whose work for the Cooperative Extension Service is to share agricultural information in their counties

Meanwhile, dairy farmers and beef cattle ranchers are still recovering from the storm.  The health of their animals is their primary focus.

Dairy farmers are milking their cows and shipping that milk to processing facilities where it is pasteurized and packaged in jugs or cartons, or turned into value-added products like cheese and yogurt.

Ranchers are now better able to access the far reaches of their ranches.  They are getting feed to their cattle to supplement their grazing, and breaking the ice that forms in water troughs so their animals have water to drink.

Aside from herd health, longer-term concerns for dairy farmers and beef cattle ranchers include rebuilding their herds, as well repairing barns and other agricultural buildings that were damaged by the storm’s heavy snows and high winds.

Dubbed in media reports as Goliath, the record snowstorm was not without a silver lining for New Mexico agriculture: wet snow likely benefitted cold-season crops such as winter wheat, which is grown in the state’s eastern counties.

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