Through securing the food supply, promoting trade, and protecting our natural resources and environment, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture is a producer, consumer and regulatory agency that plays a fundamental role in multiple sectors of New Mexico’s agricultural and consumer services industries.
New Mexico’s agricultural history is long and diverse, from very early planting and trading of corn and squash to cattle drives. New Mexico’s livestock production began with the earliest days of cattle barons when the Goodnight Loving Trail and the Chisum Trail were used extensively to move cattle north. The livestock industry remains significant to New Mexico’s economy with over 1.5 million head feeding on rangeland and feedlots. Today, agriculture continues to expand its contribution to the state’s economy and recognition. Agriculture is one of the state’s principal industries with cash receipts approaching $3 billion annually and directly supports over 23,000 jobs in the state.
Consistent production of high-quality alfalfa contributes to the state’s ranking as the seventh highest milk and eigth highest cheese producing state in the nation. New Mexico’s individual dairy herds are the largest in the country with milk production per cow second only to Arizona. Milk production supports several of the biggest cheese manufacturing plants in the country, and from 2002-2005, milk production in New Mexico increased by 10 percent. New Mexico also boasts the highest concentration of pecan production in the world and is one of the top three pecan producing states in the nation. New Mexico leads in cash receipts for pecan production with superior quality nuts and some of the largest orchards.
New Mexico’s agriculture is as diverse as the state’s culture, geography, and climate. Produce grown across the state includes onions, potatoes, pumpkins, watermelons, lettuce, cabbage, corn, and beans. The state supplies 85% of the nation’s fresh onions during June, and remains the country’s largest producer of her most famous export – chile peppers. Due to New Mexico’s ability to produce a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and nursery products, the state enjoys growth of local Farmers’ Markets. Forty-seven markets provide a wide assortment of specialty local grown fruits, vegetables and herbs, including organically certified products.