Public input sought for future of state’s Organic Program

NMDA hosts three meetings across New Mexico next week

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) — The New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) is inviting farmers, ranchers, processors, and others with a stake in the state’s Organic Program to attend a series of meetings across the state to discuss the program’s funding and future.

“Right now, New Mexico’s Organic Program is structured under state law, but it operates under strict guidance of USDA’s National Organic Program,” New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte said.  “We want to hear from stakeholders within the organic sector on which program best meets their certification needs, as well as their ideas on how we should operate the program in the future.”

NMDA will host three meetings to address the future of the Organic Program.  Each meeting is free and open to the public:

Las Cruces
Monday, August 1 from 3 to 5 p.m.
NMDA Main Conference Room, 3190 S. Espina St.
(NMDA is located on the NMSU campus; print a free parking pass)

Portales
Tuesday, August 2 from 3 to 5 p.m.
Roosevelt County Extension Office, 705 E. Lime St.

Albuquerque
Wednesday, August 3 from 2 to 4 p.m.
Bernalillo County Extension Office, 1510 Menaul Blvd., NW

People who cannot attend next week’s meetings can participate in the Aug. 1 meeting remotely via http://nmsu.adobeconnect.com/organicprogramaugust/.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of New Mexico having a state program that offers organic certification.  The Organic Program offers nationally accredited organic certification for farmers, ranchers, and food processors throughout New Mexico, as well as application and marketing assistance. The state legislature created the Organic Commodity Commission in 1991, which became known as the Organic Program in 2011 when the legislature relocated the program to NMDA.

Witte stressed that New Mexico’s organic agricultural sector is quite healthy.  NMDA certifies as organic approximately 150 farms, ranches, and processors in New Mexico.  Those businesses tallied more than $40 million in organic sales last year.