Category Archives: NMDA News and Hot Topics

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.

Build your own New Mexico ice cream sundae at Eastern State Fair


October 5 event invites people to enjoy local ice cream, nuts, and dessert sauces

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) – New Mexico Department of Agriculture wants to make you a deal: you buy the local ice cream, and we’ll provide the New Mexico nuts and sauces to help you create a truly local ice cream sundae.

People are invited to come to Southwest Dairy Farmers’ Ice Cream Parlor, located in the middle of the Eastern New Mexico State Fair (ENMSF) grounds, on Saturday, October 5, from 4 to 6 p.m.  Simply purchase a scoop or two of ice cream, and NMDA will provide the pecan, peanut, and pistachio pieces to toss on top, as well as the New Mexico-made syrups for drizzling.

“We want to show people the quality of food being produced here in the state,” New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte said.  “From the ice cream made with New Mexico milk, to the nuts grown here, to the dessert sauces being made in commercial kitchens across the state – nothing tastes better than when it’s fresh and local.”

This is the second year NMDA has had a presence at ENMSF.  Like last year, NMDA set up its New Mexico Country Store in the building adjacent to the Ice Cream Parlor.  The Country Store features foods from around the state, including salsas, jerky, jams and jellies, honey, nut brittles, and more.  It opens daily at the same time as the fair itself and closes when foot traffic slows in the late evening hours.

The Country Store is being operated by the Roswell Pecos Valley Rotary Club.  A portion of store sales will benefit the club’s community service projects, which include providing college scholarships to area high school seniors and helping victims of domestic abuse.

For more information about NMDA, please visit our Facebook page.  For more information about the Roswell Pecos Valley Rotary Club, please visit the club’s Facebook page.

Public picks Cindy’s Yummy & Healthy Salsa as best New Mexico salsa during State Fair

Chavela’s, Sadie’s salsas round out top three picksCindy Norris of Cindy’s Yummy & Healthy Salsa accepts her top-place buckle from
New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte.

(ALBUQUERQUE) – Several hundred fairgoers sampled their way to naming New Mexico’s favorite salsa during this year’s Battle of the Salsas, hosted by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) Saturday during the 2013 New Mexico State Fair.

Participants – some whose tastebud fortitude belies the fact that they’re only in grade school – cast their ballots after dunking tortilla chips into each of 31 salsas made commercially across the state.  After the votes were tallied, Cindy’s Yummy & Healthy Salsa was named the people’s choice.  Chavela’s Chunky Jalapeno Hot Salsa took second place, while third place went to Sadie’s Hot Salsa.

Each salsa company was presented with a handcrafted silver Battle of the Salsas belt buckle from the New Mexico Chile Commission, which sponsors the always-popular event.

“Battle of the Salsas is a fun way for people to try some of the best New Mexico has to offer,” said New Mexico Agriculture Secretary Jeff Witte, who announced the winners Saturday. “It’s meant to encourage people to try other foods grown and/or made across the state.”

Battle of the Salsas is an annual contest open to all New Mexico-made, commercially produced salsas available for sale in the New Mexico Country Store. Located in the Agriculture Building on the fairgrounds, the Country Store was created 22 years ago as a place for people to discover New Mexico foods such as salsas and other chile products, spice mixes, baked goods, jams and jellies, candies, fresh produce, nuts, honey, teas, and more.

New Mexico cheeses to be sampled during Dairy Day at State Fair


September 20 event to showcase familiar and artisan, cow and goat cheeses, all produced locally

(ALBUQUERQUE) – When you think of cheese, does New Mexico come to mind?

If not, it should.  The Land of Enchantment consistently ranks among the top five states in the country for the amount of cheese it produces.

It’s not just about quantity, but also quality.  New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) invites you to decide for yourself during Dairy Day, an event at which you can sample both familiar and artisan cheeses – some produced from cows’ milk and some from goats’ milk – all produced in New Mexico.  The event takes place Friday, September 20, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the courtyard of the Agriculture Building at the New Mexico State Fair.

NMDA also invites you to step inside the south wing of the Agriculture Building to enjoy its New Mexico wine and cheese pairing room where local cheeses will be sampled periodically throughout the fair’s 12-day run, and where you’ll get information on which New Mexico wines pair well with which New Mexico cheeses.

“I think a lot of New Mexicans would be surprised to learn that we have international buyers looking to the Land of Enchantment to source cheese for use in their home countries,” said New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte.  “That our cheeses are internationally known is a real testament to New Mexico’s dairy farmers.”

The milk produced by the state’s approximately 150 family-owned dairy farms contributes between $1 billion and $1.5 billion to New Mexico’s economy every year.  That figure becomes much larger when you consider the value increases as milk is turned into ice cream, yogurt, and other dairy products.  Local dairy products often bear the NEW MEXICO—Taste the Tradition® logo, which NMDA created in 2000 to help consumers quickly identify foods and drinks made in New Mexico.

Visit Dairy Producers of New Mexico for more information on New Mexico’s dairy farmers.  Click here for more information on the NEW MEXICO—Taste the Tradition® logo program.