• USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey visits New Mexico

    For immediate release

    June 14, 2018
    Media Contact:
    Baylee Banks
    New Mexico Department of Agriculture
    575-646-1864, bbanks@nmda.nmsu.edu

    USDA Under Secretary of Farm Production and Conservation visits New Mexico

     (Las Cruces, New Mexico) – United States Department of Agriculture Under Secretary of Farm Production and Conservation, Bill Northey, visited New Mexico earlier this week to meet with USDA constituents and employees throughout the state.

    The goal of his visit, which lasted from Sunday, June 10 to Monday, June 11 and was hosted by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, was to improve customer experience by meeting with local producers and program users to identify possible areas of improvement.

    President Donald Trump nominated Northey as under secretary for the newly named USDA Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) mission area earlier this year. USDA – FPAC oversees the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Risk Management Agency (RMA).

    Previous to this nomination, Northey served on a soil and water conservation district board for 20 years in the state of Iowa and as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture from January 2, 2007 to March 5, 2018.

    Northey’s two-day visit to the Land of Enchantment involved a meeting with members of the Mescalero Apache Tribe in Silver Lake, New Mexico on Monday to oversee Environmental Quality Incentives Program projects involving forest thinning and forest management.

    That same afternoon, the under secretary visited the Bonita Area to observe the devastation left by the 2014 Little Bear Fire. Northey then spoke to producers and conservationists regarding his new position as a USDA undersecretary at the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts Regional Meeting, which took place at the Ruidoso Convention Center. Northey heard constituent comments and feedback involving the NRCS, FSA and RMA programs and services during the meeting.

    United States Department of Agriculture Under Secretary of Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey (fifth from left), along with members of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency and New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts, visited Silver Lake June 11 to observe progress made on forest management and conservation projects.

    United States Department of Agriculture Under Secretary of Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey (fifth from left), along with members of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency and New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts, visited Silver Lake June 11 to observe progress made on forest management and conservation projects. (Photo Courtesy NMDA)


    For more information about NMDA, visit www.nmda.nmsu.edu. Like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/NMDeptAg and follow us on Twitter @NMDeptAg.

    – NMDA –

  • NMDA Veterinary Lab Receives International Accreditation

    For immediate release

    May 2, 2018
    Media Contact:
    Kristie Garcia, Public Information Officer,
    New Mexico Department of Agriculture
    575-646-2804, krgarcia@nmda.nmsu.edu

    New Mexico Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Lab receives international accreditation
    Certification marks first ever for NMDA’s Veterinary Diagnostic Services Division

    (Albuquerque, New Mexico) – For the first time in its existence, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Diagnostic Services Division is a fully-certified International Organization for Standardization (ISO) laboratory.

    The ISO 17025 certification means that the Veterinary Diagnostic Services (VDS) lab – which consists of a staff of 14 – has met specific criteria to qualify as an accredited testing lab. The accreditation demonstrates the lab’s capacity to deliver reliable results.

    Dr. Tim Hanosh, NMDA’s VDS Division Director, said the certification process took many years and was an amazing effort by the staff.

    “People do not realize how much time and effort the laboratorians, the administrative staff and everyone in the lab dedicated to attain this goal,” said Hanosh. “Saying I’m proud is an understatement. The certification speaks for itself.”

    Located in Albuquerque, the VDS lab tests numerous animal samples, including carcasses for necropsies (animal autopsies), tissue samples, bacterial swabs, as well as bodily fluids, such as blood, serum and plasma.

    The ISO 17025 standards include developing a quality management system, which determines how the laboratory will operate.

    “The reason we need a quality management system is to ensure that our quality is at the highest level and to ensure that everybody in the laboratory follows the same standard operating procedures (SOPs),” said Hanosh. “We spent many years putting together this quality system, and it took a lot of time and a lot of effort.”

    The document known as the quality manual is the framework for the lab. Everyone is required to read the manual and sign off that they understand it. Lab employees have to prove that they can perform the work successfully. Proficiency tests are administered and have to be successfully completed annually, at minimum. The VDS staff also has a test on the quality management system and on its iPassport database. The test is created by lab staff.

    “Everybody supplies questions and answers and has to support their answers,” said Hanosh. “We compile everyone’s questions, we create a test from those questions, and everybody must pass.”

    Once the quality system was established, a third party that specializes in ISO 17025 certification performed an audit. The audit included reviewing documentation and standards, as well as observing procedures and interviewing all the employees and laboratorians, in order to determine whether the lab met the ISO standards.

    Hanosh said the key to achieving the accreditation was buy-in.

    “When we’re going after something with such a magnitude, two different areas are involved – one of those areas is our upper management,” he said. “We must have support from up above, so we have to have buy-in from our secretary of agriculture, our deputy secretary of agriculture and from other key people within NMDA, which we have. And the second area is the lab. What makes it work is that everybody in the lab has to buy in and take some sort of ownership.”

    New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte said the accreditation reflects the high quality at which the lab operates.

    “The accreditation verifies that we have a lab operating at the highest level with a dedicated and professional staff,” said Witte. “We are proud of the services that VDS provides to our citizens and the work they do for animal health.”

    Hanosh said depending on the area of the lab in which they work, employees have to read, understand and prove that they’re able to follow certain SOPs that apply to those specific areas.

    “So, if you work in the molecular biology lab, you would read all of the molecular SOPs,” he said. “If you worked in administration, you would read all of the admin SOPs, so on and so forth.”

    The accreditation is valid for two years. During that time, the same accrediting body will perform a re-audit to ensure the lab continues to meet the standards. Then it will alternate between an on-site audit one year and an online audit the next year.

    Hanosh said the accreditation shows the lab is self-critical and also gives the public peace of mind.

    “We want to test ourselves to ensure we’re doing the best that we possibly can,” he said. “As far as the public is concerned, New Mexico residents need to know that we have attained the highest level possible for our laboratory. They should have comfort in that the results we produce from our lab are meeting the highest standards possible.”

    For more information about VDS, visit www.nmda.nmsu.edu/vds/. Like NMDA on Facebook www.facebook.com/NMDeptAg and follow us on Twitter @NMDeptAg.

    – NMDA –

  • NMDA State Chemistry Lab temporarily closed due to repairs and construction

    New Mexico Department of Agriculture’s State Chemistry Laboratory has had to temporarily suspend analytical services conducted at its Las Cruces laboratory, located at 3190 S. Espina, due to unplanned structural repairs to the building.

    State chemists are working in collaboration with several approved out-of-state laboratories to ensure analytical services performed at the Las Cruces location continue uninterrupted. Building repairs are expected to be completed by August of 2018.

    If you have questions regarding testing, please call 575-646-3007. Thank you for your patience and cooperation.

  • 2017 Census of Agriculture will capture complete picture of New Mexico production

    Questionnaires to be mailed in December

    (Las Cruces, New Mexico) – New Mexico farmers and ranchers should be on the lookout for a Census of Agriculture questionnaire in the mail in December. Farmers and ranchers across the country will soon have the opportunity to make a positive impact on their communities and industry by taking part in the census.

    For a simpler, faster and more efficient process, producers are encouraged to complete the online questionnaire at www.agcensus.usda.gov upon receiving their questionnaire. In order to complete the online version, each person will need his or her unique 17-digit code, which may be found on the questionnaire.

    Conducted every five years by United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the census captures a complete count of all U.S. farms and ranches and those who operate them. Even the smallest plots of land and those raising only a few animals during the census year are counted.

    New Mexico State Statistician Longino Bustillos said the census remains the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation.

    “It’s a critical tool that gives farmers a voice to influence decisions that will shape the future of their community, industry and operation,” Bustillos said.
    The census highlights land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income, expenditures and other topics. The information gathered by the Census of Agriculture guides Congress, agribusiness, policymakers, researchers, local governments and many others on the creation and funding of agricultural programs and services – decisions that can directly impact local operations and the future of the agriculture industry for years to come.

    New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte encourages all New Mexico producers to respond.

    “We only have this opportunity every five years, so please complete the census and take pride in what we do in New Mexico,” Witte said. “The results of the census truly show the impact of agriculture in our state.”

    This year, NASS will collect new information, including data on active duty and military veteran farmers, as well as expanded questions about food marketing practices.

    In 2012, New Mexico reported a total of 24,721 farms and ranches, spanning more than 43 million acres. This showed an 18 percent increase from the previous census in 2007. Although the state’s average age of farmers and ranchers climbed to over 60 (second highest in the country), New Mexico data showed an increase in young farmers and ranchers. This telling information and thousands of additional farm and ranch statistics are only available every five years, as a direct result of responses to the census.

    Census of Agriculture responses must be submitted by Feb. 5.

    “Your answers to the census impact farm programs and rural services that support your community,” Bustillos said. “So please do your part, and be counted when you receive your form, because there’s strength in numbers that only the census can reveal.”

    For more information about the census, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call 1-888-4AG-STAT (1-888-424-7828). The Census of Agriculture is Your Voice, Your Future, Your Opportunity.

  • Eastern New Mexico in-shell pecan weevil quarantine rule takes effect Nov. 20

    Las Cruces, N.M. – The New Mexico Department of Agriculture will issue an emergency pecan weevil quarantine effective Nov. 20 for a duration of 180 days for Chaves, Curry, Eddy, and Lea counties. The quarantine is issued as a result of the continued findings of pecan weevil in residential pecan trees in Hobbs, Lovington, Roswell, Clovis, Artesia and in several commercial southeastern New Mexico orchards.

    The primary objective of the quarantine is to prevent the spread of pecan weevil by providing restrictions on the export of in-shell pecans grown in those counties. During the 180 days, input from the pecan industry will continue to be accepted by NMDA for possible incorporation into a permanent quarantine.

    Although the objective of the quarantine is to prevent the spread of pecan weevil out of known infested counties, New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte said work continues to remove pecan weevil from residential and commercial trees.

    “At this time, we are working with local pest control companies on expanding removal efforts in Artesia, Roswell and Clovis,” said Witte.

    In-shell pecans that are destined to other New Mexico counties from quarantined counties require either cold treatment prior to shipment or transportation in sealed containers directly to an NMDA-approved cold storage facility. Transportation in sealed trailers or containers prevents pecan weevils from emerging from nuts and dropping to the ground where they may infest a new area of the state. Freezing pecan weevil for an extend period of time will kill the pest.

    Pecan weevil is primarily spread through the movement of in-shell pecans and infested equipment. Additional quarantine restrictions apply to equipment and treatments. If the in-shell pecans are shipped to another state, restrictions for the receiving state should be verified by contacting the respective department of agriculture.

    NMDA and New Mexico Pecan Growers Association are asking homeowners with pecan trees to carefully look at their pecans for signs of pecan weevil infestation in order to reduce the movement of pecan weevil within the quarantined counties. A number of websites are available to help individuals determine if their pecans are infested with pecan weevil, including the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service website at http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_circulars/CR683.pdf.

    NMDA asks homeowners to destroy pecan weevils in infested pecans by freezing the pecans for a period of seven days or crushing the nuts. Homeowners should also call NMDA at 575-646-3007 or their local Cooperative Extension Service office, which may be found at http://aces.nmsu.edu/county/. Homeowners are also being asked to ensure they are not contributing to the spread of pecan weevil to neighbors or other towns by moving infested pecans.

    To help identify pecan weevil infested locations and ensure compliance with the quarantine, pecan buyers or accumulators are required to collect information from the seller. Information required for each transaction includes seller’s contact information, physical location of where nuts were grown and amount of nuts purchased.

    New Mexico’s exterior pecan weevil quarantine that was enacted in 1997 restricts the movement of in-shell pecans originating in all states except Arizona, California and the Texas counties of El Paso and Hudspeth, and parts of Culberson County.

    Economic Impact of Pecan

    Phillip Arnold, New Mexico Pecan Growers Association President said pecans are vital to the New Mexico agricultural economy.

    “Pecan production is now New Mexico’s number one crop, with respect to cash receipts,” said Arnold. “We have over 2,000 pecan farms in the state and an unknown number of homeowners with pecan trees that are also an important part of the business.”

    The 2017 pecan crop forecast for New Mexico is a record 79 million pounds.

    Western pecan growers consider pecan weevil the most significant pest of pecans. Pecan weevil establishment in commercial pecan orchards results in increased production costs, crop loss, reductions in nut quality, increased use of insecticides.

    Because of its significant impact on pecan production, NMDA and the Western Pecan Growers Association have worked over the past 40 years to prevent pecan weevil from establishing in the state and to prevent the movement of pecan weevil. During the past eight years, NMDA has worked with contractors and growers to remove pecan weevil from specific neighborhoods and orchards in eastern New Mexico. Once initiated, removal of pecan weevil from an infested area or tree may take up to seven years or more.

    History of Pecan Weevil

    For over 30 years, New Mexico has seen periodic introductions of pecan weevil, which have been eradicated each time with the help of the pecan industry. It was determined last year that pecan weevil had spread from known areas of active eradication, which resulted in an emergency quarantine rule taking effect Jan. 27, 2017. The quarantine was directed at protecting New Mexico’s pecan industry from additional spread of pecan weevil to uninfested pecan-growing counties.

    Who to Contact

    NMSU Extension is collaborating with NMDA and Western Pecan Growers Association to provide outreach and education to the affected communities. To contact your local extension agent, visit http://aces.nmsu.edu/county/. A copy of the quarantine rule may be found at www.nmda.nmsu.edu or by calling 575-646-3007. The draft quarantine is subject to change as industry continues to provide input.

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