NYFC works with farmers, ranchers, and partners across New Mexico to build farmer-driven policies that protect the agricultural heritage and future of the state, including land, water, farmers, and communities.
New Mexico’s agricultural history is long and diverse. The first farmers were the Pueblo Indians. During the Spanish and Mexican colonial period community irrigation systems, or acequias, were built to deliver water to support agriculture and communities. Communities often grew around an acequia, as neighbors understood the importance of sharing this precious resource. More than four centuries later, acequias remain vital to agriculture and are integral parts of the culture and heritage of New Mexico. Similar legacies are carried forward by the 19 Pueblos, three Tribes, and the Navajo Nation that reside in the state.
While agriculture is one of New Mexico’s principal industries, bringing in around $10.6 billion annually, it faces significant challenges. New Mexico has the highest average age of farmers and ranchers in the country (61 years old) and only 3% of farmers in New Mexico are under the age of 35. As farmers age, fewer farmers are taking over and carrying on their knowledge. Add to this the impacts of climate change, increasing water scarcity, and the rising costs of land, and the future of agriculture hangs in the balance.
In order to continue the traditions that have been passed down for generations, keep New Mexico’s agricultural lands in production, and keep water and farmers on the land, the state must support young people building lives and careers in agriculture.
NYFC is part of the Resilience in New Mexico Task Force, a coalition of 35 agricultural organizations led by New Mexico First and New Mexico State University that helped create a strategic plan for supporting agriculture in the state. Our work moving forward will be informed by this consensus process, that was precluded by 13 regional meetings across the state and the engagement of over 600 stakeholders. Read the strategic plan here.