Category Archives: NMDA News and Hot Topics

Two New Mexicans recognized for contributions to Western culture

NMDA, Max Evans present 2013 Rounders Award to Johnny D. Boggs, Don Bullis

(SANTA FE) – Two New Mexicans were honored recently for contributing positively to the culture of the West through their body of work.  Santa Fe-based writer Johnny D. Boggs and Rio Rancho-based writer and historian Don Bullis each accepted the 2013 Rounders Award from New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte at an afternoon presentation last week hosted at the Governor’s Residence in Santa Fe.

The Rounders Award honors those who “live, promote, and articulate the western way of life.”  The award was created in 1990 by former New Mexico Agriculture Secretary Frank DuBois.  It was named after The Rounders, a classic western novel written by New Mexico native Max Evans, who presented the award along with Witte.

“In their own unique ways, Johnny Boggs and Don Bullis are both curators of the diverse culture of the West,” Witte said.

Boggs grew up on a farm in South Carolina.  His first career was as a sports reporter and later editor; for the last 15 years, he’s concentrated on writing novels and freelance writing.  Boggs’ short nonfiction pieces, often accompanied by his photographs, frequently appear in Western publications such as True West and Wild West.  Boggs just released his latest book, Billy the Kid on Film, 1911-2012, about the roughly 75 movies made over the years about the state’s most legendary outlaw.

Bullis has spent most of his life in New Mexico.  In addition to a 20-year career in New Mexico law enforcement, he also worked as a newspaper columnist and editor.  Bullis has written two novels and several nonfiction books, including the award-winning New Mexico Historical Biographies.  His freelance work has appeared in New Mexico Magazine among other magazines.  Currently, he edits a monthly e-newsletter about New Mexico history and writes a monthly column for New Mexico Stockman, a magazine written by, for, and about the state’s livestock community.

Gathered for the presentation was a crowd of approximately 100 New Mexico farmers, ranchers, and others who, in their own small way, have helped secure the culture of the West for future generations.


NMDA names top staff for 2012-2013

Two employees recognized for service to New Mexico

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) – New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) has recognized two staff members who were nominated by their colleagues for going above and beyond in the service to New Mexico.

Brian Hall and Amanda Romero are the recipients for this year’s Distinguished Service Awards.  They were recognized at an awards ceremony held during NMDA’s annual conference in Las Cruces recently.

“Amanda and Brian are great examples of the dedicated employees we have at NMDA who are committed to extraordinary service to the citizens of New Mexico,” said New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte, who presented a plaque to each recipient.  “There is no higher honor than to be nominated by the people you work with on a daily basis.”

Brian is an inspector with the Standards and Consumer Services Division; in that role he performs a wide variety of tasks to help maintain fairness in the market place for both buyer and seller. Those tasks include checking to ensure scales at grocery stores are calibrated correctly; that “a cord of wood” really is a cord of wood; and that chile advertised as New Mexico chile really is what it claims to be.  Brian lives in Albuquerque and works throughout the metro area.

Amanda handles a number of projects for the director’s office. Last year she was instrumental in creating NMDA’s new website,  This year she took on a new software program to help the department analyze and track bills through the legislative process.  Amanda lives in Las Cruces and works at the main office.

Both Brian and Amanda are regularly asked to train their coworkers – a job both take on with a smile.

NMDA is located in Las Cruces, but it has staff placed strategically throughout the state in order to carry out the mission of protecting New Mexico agriculture and its citizens.  Learn more about NMDA’s service to New Mexico by visiting


Contest rewards people who buy New Mexico food and drink

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) – If you’ve hosted one, you know: the most important part of any holiday gathering, aside from having friends and family present, is what food and drink to serve.

In an effort to encourage people to buy New Mexico-grown and New Mexico-made foods and beverages, New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) is sponsoring a contest that will reward each of four winners with a “Party in a Bag” containing local foods, drinks, and other goodies to make for a great holiday spread.

Here’s how it works: buy at least $20 worth of local food and beverage and submit the corresponding receipt (redacting any personal financial information) to NMDA.  Every $20 of local food and beverage purchased qualifies you for an entry.  Contest participants can be entered yet again if they snap a photo of the local food and drink they bought and post it to NMDA’s Facebook page.

“Local foods and beverages can really accentuate the more traditional holiday spreads,” said NMDA marketing specialist Felicia Frost, who came up with the contest idea. “New Mexico companies produce everything to make a great meal: meat, cheese, appetizers such as dips and salsas, soups, desserts, wines, drink mixes, and more.”

Frost advises shoppers to examine the labels of the foods and drinks they buy to know for sure if they were produced in New Mexico; the back of the label will spell out where the product was packaged.  Furthermore, many local foods and beverages often bear the NEW MEXICO – Taste the Tradition  logo, which NMDA created in 2000 to help shoppers identify locally made foods.

Each “Party in a Bag” is valued at approximately $75.  Four bags will be awarded: one before Thanksgiving, one before Christmas, one before New Year’s Eve, and the last one before Valentine’s Day.

In order to submit an entry into the drawing for one of four “Party in a Bag” prizes, you must:

  • Purchase a minimum of $20 in New Mexico Specialty Food products from any retail store (online included) and send a copy of your itemized receipt along with your name and telephone number to  Please black out any personal financial information on your receipt.
  • For each $20 worth of product you will receive one entry into the contest.
  • In addition to e-mailing a copy of your receipt, you may also snap a picture of yourself with the New Mexico products you purchased and post it to the NMDA Facebook page.  Once NMDA receives a copy of your receipt and your photo posts to the NMDA Facebook page, you will receive an additional entry into the drawing.
  • Anyone, including out-of-state consumers, making a valid purchase is eligible to win.
  • The drawings will take place before Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Valentine’s Day.
  • Each winning entry will be drawn at random by the NMDA Marketing and Development staff.
  • NMDA will attempt to contact each winner by phone and by e-mail.  If the winner is not reached or does not respond within one week, another name will be drawn.
  • The names of the winners will be posted online on the website the day of the drawing.
  • Each “Party in a Bag” will either by hand delivered or mailed directly to the winners.
  • The contents of each prize bag will vary.  Approximate value of each bag is $75 plus shipping.

Happy shopping!

State chemist lends expertise to Las Cruces chemistry teachers

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) – New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) and the Las Cruces Public Schools (LCPS) District have teamed up for the first time in the name of keeping the district’s chemistry teachers, students, and classrooms safe.

State chemist Andrew Randall, whose office is housed administratively and physically within NMDA, recently spent three days walking through the chemistry classrooms at 14 middle and high schools within LCPS.  He offered suggestions on how the classrooms could store materials in a safer, more secure way.

“I wasn’t there in a regulatory capacity, but in an advisory one,” Randall said.  “The goal was to help chemistry teachers be safer, which of course helps their students be safer.”

LCPS extended the invitation to Randall.

“Our sincere thanks to NMDA for helping to make our science classrooms safer,” said LPCS Superintendent Stan Rounds. “I personally am very grateful to state chemist Andrew Randall for taking the time to visit 14 of our middle and high schools to find ways to increase the safety of our students and staff – nothing is more important than that,” he said.

Randall oversees the State Chemist Laboratory, in which scientists test animal feeds (including dog and cat food) for bacterial pathogens as well as their protein, fat, fiber and mineral content; fertilizers for the available mineral, nitrogen, potash, and phosphoric acid content; and pesticides for the proper identification and formula verification.  These tests ensure that people who buy animal feeds, commercial fertilizers, and commercial pesticides in New Mexico get what they pay for.  In that way the lab ensures marketplace fairness for both buyer and seller; the lab also ensures responsible environmental stewardship by bringing to light exactly what the products contain.

The State Chemist Lab tests samples submitted by the public, for a fee, as well as those submitted by several NMDA inspectors across the state.  These inspectors routinely retrieve samples of animal feed, commercial fertilizers, and commercial pesticides for testing from businesses that sell these products.

New Mexico Country Store returns to Eastern State Fair

Rotary Club operates Country Store to fund community service projects

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) – When the Eastern New Mexico State Fair (ENMSF) opens September 30, so will the New Mexico Country Store for the second year in a row.

New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) first set up its Country Store at ENMSF last year.  Prior to that, the Country Store was something only the New Mexico State Fair offered.

“The New Mexico Country Store is a one-stop shop for people to pick up all sorts of foods and drinks made around the state,” New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte said.  “The Country Store has a bit of everything: salsas, dry spice mixes, jams and jellies, honey, ciders, and more…all made right here in the Land of Enchantment.”

At ENMSF, the Country Store is located in the building adjacent to the Commercial Building and Southwest Dairy Farmers’ Ice Cream Parlor.  The store will open daily at the same time as the fair itself and close when foot traffic slows in the late evening hours.

The Roswell Pecos Valley Rotary Club will operate the store, and a portion of store sales will benefit the club’s community service projects.

“Rotary is all about investing in the community – the local community, the global community, and in between,” said Pecos Valley Rotary Club President Frank Seley.  “Our club raises money to help fund everything from college scholarships for local seniors to a clean water sanitation project in Sicache, Guatemala, which is a collaborative effort between our club and other clubs in the district.”

Locally, the Pecos Valley club also raises money to help hospitalized children, abused senior citizens, and battered women.

For more information about New Mexico foods, please visit NMDA’s NEW MEXICO–Taste the Tradition® website.  For more information about the Roswell Pecos Valley Rotary Club, please visit the club’s Facebook page.