Category Archives: NMDA News and Hot Topics

New Mexico beef highlighted during “June Beef Month”

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) – What would a cookout this time of year be without a few burgers on the grill?  And what better way to honor your dad on Father’s Day in a few weeks than by serving him a savory steak?

It’s “June Beef Month” in New Mexico, a state where the beef industry has long thrived.  In 2010 – the latest year for which data are available from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) – the sale of cattle and calves in New Mexico added nearly $1.19 billion to the state’s economy.

“Ranching is an important industry, especially when you consider it within the context that New Mexico agriculture is a $3 billion-a-year business,” said Jeff Witte, New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture.  “The ranches in this state add our economy, landscapes, and cultural heritage.”

Here are a few interesting facts about the beef industry to “chew on”:

  • Grazing animals on land not suitable for producing crops more than doubles the land area in the U.S. that can be used to produce food. *
  • The same land that provides food and open space for raising cattle also offers a home for many types of wildlife. *
  • Several state landmarks owe their history to the beef industry.  For instance: In 1886-1887, soldiers at Fort Union in northern New Mexico consumed between four and ten tons of beef a month. +
  • Approximately two-thirds of ranches in the U.S. have been under the same family ownership for two generations or more. *

* Courtesy of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
+ Courtesy of the National Park Service.

For more information – including beef recipes and nutrition information – visit the New Mexico Beef Council at


“June Dairy Month” spotlights New Mexico dairy products

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) – This time of year in New Mexico, there are few better ways to beat the heat than with a cold glass of milk or a bowl full of ice cream.

It’s June Dairy Month – a month with special resonance in New Mexico, where milk is the biggest agricultural contributor to the state’s economy.  Milk added nearly $1.24 billion to the state’s economy in 2010, the latest year for which data are available from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). 

“Milk accounts for a big part of the roughly $3 billion that New Mexico agriculture adds to the state’s economy every year,” said Jeff Witte, New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture.  “It’s a key economic player in New Mexico.”

According to New Mexico State University’s Dairy Extension Program, the dairy industry (including both production and processing) provides 56 jobs for every 100 cows. 

Here are a few other interesting facts about New Mexico dairy*:

  • The largest cheese plant in North America is located in New Mexico.
  • The east side of New Mexico (Curry, Roosevelt, Chaves, Eddy, and Lea counties) accounts for 77.5 percent of the milk produced in the state.  Another 15 percent is produced in the south (Dona Ana, Sierra, and Luna counties), while the remaining 7.5 percent is produced around Albuquerque.
  • Most dairies recycle and utilize the same water 3-5 times for cooling, sanitizing equipment, flushing feed lanes, and ultimately irrigating and fertilizing crops.
  • Ninety-five percent of the nation’s dairies are family-owned and family-operated.

* courtesy of New Mexico State University’s Dairy Extension Program.

For more information about New Mexico’s dairy industry, please visit Dairy Producers of New Mexico at


USDA announces Columbus Port of Entry once again open for livestock

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) – Livestock will soon be allowed to cross the U.S.-Mexico border once again at the Columbus Port of Entry in New Mexico, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced.

The announcement reverses USDA’s decision in March, which restricted its veterinarians from traveling into Mexico.  That decision effectively halted the livestock crossings at Columbus because before livestock are allowed to cross into the U.S., they must first be inspected by a USDA veterinarian to ensure they are disease-free.

USDA officials said that under a new arrangement, the USDA veterinarian will now work in a safer facility.

“A re-opening of the crossing is great news for Luna County and the state of New Mexico, which benefit when the cross-border livestock trade is alive and well,” said Jeff Witte, Secretary of New Mexico Agriculture.

Earlier this month, Governor Susana Martinez authored a letter to the Obama administration expressing concern about the closure of the livestock border crossing between the towns of Columbus, N.M., and Palomas, Mexico.

“The crossing at Columbus represents an important point of commerce between Mexico and the United States – an economic benefit not just to the people in that immediate area, but a thoroughfare for livestock distributed to industry throughout the United States for almost 70 years,” Governor Martinez said in her letter.

Cattle-feeding facilities in the U.S. often purchase “feeder” cattle from Mexico to add to their herds, while U.S. ranchers often sell their breeding stock into Mexico.

‘Tis the season for local farmers’ and growers’ markets

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) — Especially starting this time of year, farmers’ and growers’ markets across the state make fresh, local foods more available to New Mexicans.  The Albuquerque Downtown Growers’ Market opens for the season this Saturday, May 19, adding to 16 other markets that are already up and running across the state.  Some markets such as the Las Cruces Farmers’ & Crafts Market and the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market are open all year long.  There are more than 60 markets throughout New Mexico.

Depending on where you are in the state, items at your local farmers’ market this time of year might include eggs, cheese, honey, salad greens, spinach, herbs, asparagus, snap peas, kale, chard, collard greens, radishes, beets, and more.  A wider variety of produce will become available as we get further into the growing season.  Some markets also have plant starts for sale.

“There are so many reasons to visit your local market,” said Denise Miller, executive director of New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association.  “Buying from the farmers’ and growers’ markets means healthy foods and families, a healthy environment, and a healthy local economy.”

New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte says farmers’ and growers’ markets provide an opportunity to buy local food picked at the peak of freshness – and, in the process, help preserve the state’s rich agricultural heritage.

“Going to the farmers’ market gives you a rare chance to talk face to face with the people tending the land and growing our food,” Witte said.  “It’s an opportunity to think about where our food comes from and all the hard work it takes to get it from the farm to your fork.”

More information – including the farmer’s market nearest you and when it opens for the season – is available at


New Mexico Livestock Board, USDA working to ensure livestock virus is isolated

For immediate release: Monday, April 30, 2012

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) — The New Mexico Livestock Board (NMLB) is working with USDA-Veterinary Services to ensure that a case of vesicular stomatitis (VS) discovered in a horse in Otero County remains an isolated case.

USDA-Veterinary Services and NMLB are conducting surveillance examinations of all livestock in the immediate area to make sure the infection is contained.  The area is very low-density in terms of livestock population.  No further cases have been identified at this time.

New Mexico State Veterinarian Dr. Dave Fly, DVM, was notified today by USDA-Veterinary Services that a case of VS was confirmed in a horse kept at a property outside Tularosa.  The property is under quarantine by order of the state veterinarian.  The animal in question is among a herd of five horses; none of the five has been off the property in the last 12 months.

Managers and producers of major equine shows and events are strongly encouraged to call the state veterinarian at (505) 841-6161 for guidance on how to minimize disruption of shows and events.

Livestock producers in New Mexico may have some restrictions applied to animals moving into other states or internationally.  Any movement restrictions will be forwarded to New Mexico veterinarians and posted on the NMLB website:  For information on international shipment, please contact USDA-Veterinary Services’ Albuquerque office at (505) 761-3160.

According to USDA, it’s not fully known how VS is spread; factors include insect vectors, mechanical transmission, and movement of animals.  VS is not usually fatal.  The virus primarily affects cattle, horses, and pigs, causing blister-like lesions that can be painful enough to limit the animal’s eating and drinking.  According to USDA, good sanitation and quarantine practices on affected farms usually control the infection until it subsides and soon ends; affected animals typically recover in two weeks.


Media contact: NMDA Public Information Officer Katie Goetz,