Jeff M. Witte, Director/Secretary of Agriculture

Director Jeff Witte and NMDA building

Jeff grew up on his family’s ranch on the Rowe Mesa between Moriarty and Las Vegas, N.M.  He graduated from New Mexico State University (NMSU) with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business management and a master’s degree in agricultural economics.

After college, Jeff worked for Farm Bureau as the field representative for the counties in northern New Mexico.  He also represented the state’s farmers and ranchers in legislative discussions in Santa Fe.  During this time, Jeff worked to bring farmer groups and rancher groups together.  The Ag Group, as it’s loosely known, still gathers every year before the legislative session to set policy priorities that will benefit all of agriculture.  When the session ends, the group puts on what’s known as Ag Fest to showcase to legislators and their staff the diversity of New Mexico agriculture.  Jeff was instrumental in making this an annual event.

Jeff first came to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA), located in Las Cruces, in 1994.  He spent the next nine years as the assistant director alongside Secretary Frank DuBois.  During that time, Jeff helped create the New Mexico Agricultural Leadership Program, a two-year program that aims to develop effective leaders within the state’s food, agriculture and natural resource sectors.

Jeff then went to work as the director for the Office of Agricultural Biosecurity for NMDA and NMSU.  He later started up the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center at NMSU.  In both capacities, he worked with private industry and officials at all levels of government to develop plans that will protect New Mexico agriculture as part of a homeland security strategy.  Jeff still heads up trainings on the subject from time to time.

The bulk of Jeff’s time as New Mexico’s secretary of agriculture is spent on the road, meeting with groups that represent farmers and ranchers across the state.  Jeff also works to educate legislators about New Mexico agriculture.

Jeff and his wife Janet live in the southern New Mexico’s Mesilla Valley.  Their son Jeremy graduated from NMSU with a degree in ag economics and ag business; their daughter, Jennifer, attends Mayfield High School.  Both have been active in 4H and FFA, as well as showing animals at the fair, among their many other activities.

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