flores rolando rsNew Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Dean Rolando A. Flores (pictured) and N.M. Department of Agriculture Sec. Jeff Witte started their 2018 listening sessions with a stop in Roswell March 28. The listening sessions will continue May 31 in Belen and July 18 in Alamogordo.WRITER: Darrell J. Pehr, 575-646-3223, pehr@nmsu.edu

ROSWELL, N.M. – With topics ranging from the education of future agricultural leaders to agricultural projects that will be included in the general obligation bond in November, two New Mexico agricultural leaders gathered input March 28 from ag producers and lawmakers from Eastern New Mexico.

New Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Dean Rolando A. Flores and N.M. Department of Agriculture Sec. Jeff Witte started their 2018 listening sessions with a stop in Roswell. The listening sessions will continue May 31 in Belen and July 18 in Alamogordo.

"As with previous sessions, this one was very informative for us," Flores said. "We heard about issues of relevance such as the ELD livestock hauling regulations, falling milk prices and NAFTA trade effects, the need for beef processing facilities in New Mexico, drought mitigation and fire prevention, pecan quarantine, research needs and impacts of ACES research and Extension, and the Legislative Finance Committee's evaluation report of Extension and research activities at NMSU."

Flores outlined projects included in the general obligation bond election in November, including a Biomedical Research Center, a Food Science Security and Safety Learning Facility and an Animal Nutrition and Feed Manufacturing Facility. The new facilities will greatly benefit the college if approved by voters.

"The 2018 GO bond projects to be voted by New Mexicans in November of this year are vital for the future of New Mexico's agriculture and food industries," Flores said. "The goal is to have a big push for agriculture in two major areas: food safety and security and generation of value-added from agricultural products by developing the food of the future. These two components, properly supported, can convert Southern New Mexico into a hub for the nation's food safety and security and can bolster economic and community development in New Mexico."

Witte discussed several topics with farmers and ranchers, such as pecan production and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations.

"The Roswell listening session provided a great opportunity to hear the concerns of New Mexico residents and have an open discussion about issues impacting agriculture," Witte said. "These sessions allow us to stay in touch with the needs of New Mexicans and plan for the future."

"There were a number of concerns raised that are best addressed at the federal level, however it is important to have those discussions, so I can help carry the issue to other agencies and push to address the concerns," Witte said. "That's always the best part of my job – connecting with those we serve."

This is the second year the two leaders have hosted listening sessions across New Mexico to hear from farmers and ranchers. The time and place of the sessions in Belen and Alamogordo will be announced prior to the events.

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