An independent report examining the work of New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences calls the college, its Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service systems “a unique and valuable resource for New Mexico.”
The report, produced by consultants from TEConomy Partners of Columbus, Ohio, notes that “together, ACES, the Experiment Station System, Extension and academic programs represent a uniquely pragmatic system, designed to meet very real needs across the state for knowledge and actionable information and dedicated to imparting the skills required to put knowledge into action for the betterment of New Mexico’s economy and society.”
“This study quantifies the impacts of ACES in New Mexico, a very important step in the understanding of the value that NMSU brings to New Mexico’s agriculture and consumer wellbeing,” said Rolando A. Flores, dean of the College of ACES. “In times when budgets are tight due to strong economic pressures, the importance of educating students and all New Mexicans on the value of agriculture for the present and future is extremely critical, this study brings more light on the effectiveness of ACES in teaching, research and Extension as part of the land-grant role.”
The ACES system was found to be generating substantial economic benefits for New Mexico and New Mexicans. The report summarizes more than 70 programs and initiatives at ACES having strong impacts on the state.
Just six examples of work in advancing New Mexico’s important agricultural economy were found to generate positive impacts exceeding $190 million annually in the state. Overall, it is estimated that the full range of work by the college, Experiment Station and Extension Systems, just in terms of benefits to the state’s agricultural economy, probably exceeds $266 million in economic impact annually, supporting over 2,650 jobs with labor income of almost $76 million.
Similarly, work by ACES focused on improving the health of New Mexicans, and positive outcomes for youth, are illustrated in the report, with impacts upwards of $41.7 million annually highlighted. The report notes that “it is clear that the diverse work of NMSU ACES in research and the focused work to deploy research findings into action across New Mexico undertaken by Extension is having large-scale and wide-ranging economic and societal benefits across the state.”
“The mission of the Cooperative Extension Service is to provide the citizens of New Mexico with practical, research-based knowledge and programs that improve their quality of life,” said Jon C. Boren, associate dean and director of the Cooperative Extension Service. “The Cooperative Extension Service reaches about a third of New Mexico’s nearly 2 million residents through non-formal education programs in each of the state’s 33 counties. These programs not only improve the quality of life of New Mexicans but also improve community development across the state.”
The report highlights the benefits of gaining higher education through the college’s degree programs. It notes that recent bachelor’s degree graduates are expected to earn $11,761 above the median state wage and that the most recent graduating class from ACES (comprising 333 students with bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees) are anticipated collectively to earn over $171 million more over the course of their working lives versus those with lower levels of educational credentials.
The report measures the impact of the expenditures of ACES, the Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension system in New Mexico, noting that these operations generated a total expenditure impact in New Mexico of $132.3 million for FY2016/17 and supported 1,204 jobs with a labor income of $65.4 million. NMSU Cooperative Extension expenditures account for 451 jobs and $49.9 million of the economic output, while the Experiment Station system accounts for 551 jobs and $62.7 million in output.
Given the importance to demonstrate the economic impact of the College of ACES, TEConomy was commissioned to provide an outside review of the economic and functional impact to New Mexico. TEConomy has a proven track record in advanced economic and functional impact assessments. TEConomy has evaluated the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and conducted impact assessments for multiple colleges of agriculture, experiment station systems, and/or Extension services in the U.S. including those at Ohio State University, Oklahoma State University, University of Nebraska and University of Missouri.
In the report, TEConomy points out that “knowledge, and its twin, innovation, are at the heart of modern economic and societal progress. Knowledge underpins both individual and collective prospects for success in an increasingly complex and competitive global economy.” The report highlights that the NMSU ACES system “forms a knowledge production and education system that not only serves the academic community and students enrolled at NMSU, but also one that rather uniquely applies its knowledge to benefit the broader economy, society, communities, families and individuals across New Mexico through the proactive work of Cooperative Extension.”
Every New Mexican can access NMSU ACES through Extension, gaining insight into diverse topics in farming, ranching, value-added industrial activity, natural resources, environmental sciences, community development, economic development, family and consumer science, youth development and a variety of additional fields of importance.
The report comes to the following conclusions:
While NMSU, as a Land-Grant University, has its origins in legislation originally written in 1862 (and the Agricultural Experiment Station in 1887, and Extension legislation in 1914), the Land-Grant vision embodied in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES), its Experiment Station System and Cooperative Extension Service is as relevant today as it has ever been. Research, education, and the ability to put knowledge into action to enhance the economy is absolutely key to economic success in a highly competitive global economy. As this study illustrates, the three-component ACES system at NMSU is on the frontlines in these arenas, working to secure New Mexico’s current and future economic position, resiliency and success. At the same time, ACES is doing much more — undertaking work to protect New Mexico’s water and natural resources, to help families and individuals reach their full potential, and build healthy and productive communities across the state. It is found that the ACES system, while headquartered at NMSU in Las Cruces, is truly a statewide asset – providing benefits to all in the state and great promise for many more benefits into the future. By supporting the College, the Experiment Station System and Extension Service, governments at the federal, state and county levels are investing in the future sustainability, health and prosperity of New Mexico and New Mexicans, and this investment clearly demonstrates strong returns.
The full report is available for download here.