WASHINGTON, D.C – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced $550,750 in grants to strengthen markets for New Mexico produce by providing tools and resources to help agricultural producers successfully enhance their competitiveness and expand their operations.
The funding is being awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Specialty Block Grant Program, and grants will be administered through the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. The grants are authorized through the 2014 Farm Bill, which Udall and Heinrich strongly supported.
The New Mexico Department of Agriculture will receive funding to support nine projects to expand markets for specialty crops including chile, organic apples and onions; to address food safety research needs; and to expand access to fruits and vegetables throughout the state. Funded projects include measures to enhance exposure and awareness of New Mexico specialty crop foods, expand sales of specialty crops to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients in low-income communities, provide military veterans with training to learn to grow specialty crops, and increase opportunities for the development of sustainable nurseries in Native communities.
“From chile to organic apples, New Mexico’s fruit and vegetable crops support local growers and their families and boost the economy in communities throughout our state,” Udall said. "This funding will help to enhance the scale and competitiveness of the markets for New Mexico’s unique crops by providing producers with resources to improve their operations and sell their products to new consumers, and I will keep pushing for continued investments to help farmers throughout our state to expand their operations.”
“Our fruits and vegetables industry contributes $500 million to New Mexico’s economy, and these funds will help our farmers improve their production and make them more competitive both locally and across the country,” Heinrich said. “New Mexico has a proud history of agriculture, and these investments will give our farmers the support they need to keep the industry strong and produce the foods that are so important to our way of life."
The following projects will receive funding:
- Expanding Herbicide Options for Chile Pepper Production in New Mexico: $30,000. The New Mexico Department of Agriculture will partner with New Mexico State University to expand weed control options available to chile pepper growers in New Mexico by determining crop injury to post-direct, shielded applications of flumioxazin in direct-seeded chile pepper.
- Organic Apple High Density Planting in New Mexico: $27,242. The New Mexico Department of Agriculture will partner with New Mexico State University to demonstrate the potential of organic apple high density planting and to evaluate its possible challenges in New Mexico by evaluating rootstocks and recommend suitable rootstocks for high density organic apple production in New Mexico; employing the tall spindle system and examine the challenges of using this system in organic high density apple production in New Mexico; and disseminating the results to growers through publications, field days, and presentations at conferences.
- Conducting Promotional Activities for New Mexico Specialty Crops Throughout the Food and Beverage Industry: $102,650. This funding will help to increase New Mexico specialty crop sales and consumer awareness by enhancing the exposure and awareness of New Mexico specialty crop food and beverage products to at least 40 New Mexico companies involved with specialty crops through in-state promotions.
- Promoting New Mexico Onions and Other Specialty Crops at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit: $125,000. The New Mexico Department of Agriculture will partner with the New Mexico Dry Onion Commission to increase sales of New Mexico specialty crops through participation in 2014 and 2015 trade shows.
- Fresh Market Green Chile Market Development and Promotion 2014-2015: $75,000. This funding will help to increase the market share of New Mexico Green Chiles by identifying new markets, stores in each market and volume sold with focus on regional and national expansion during the 2015-2016 harvest through: webinars, roasting programs, technical seminars, in-store demonstrations and educational outreach regarding heat levels.
- It‘s SNAP Increasing Specialty Crop Sales through Improved SNAP Usage at NM Farmers‘ Markets and Farm Stands: $81,654. The New Mexico Department of Agriculture will partner with the New Mexico Farmers‘ Marketing Association to increase sales of specialty crops among low-income Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients in four low-income/low-access counties (Rio Arriba, San Miguel, Dona Ana and Hidalgo) by developing and hosting trainings, providing seminars, and implementing a targeted multi-media advertising campaign for locally grown specialty crops.
- Taos Veterans Farmers Project (TVFP): $12,785. The New Mexico Department of Agriculture will partner with Not Forgotten Outreach to increase sales of specialty crops grown by new specialty crop (veteran) farmers through the implementation of a military veteran training program that that prepares them to grow and profit from specialty crop production.
- Administration: $44,328. This funding will help to ensure that the State Agency and sub-awardees abide by Federal and State requirements and regulations by performing pre-award and post-award activities to administer Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding.
- Sustainable Native Plant Nurseries in Native Communities: $46,658. The New Mexico Department of Agriculture will partner with Rio Puerco Alliance to increase economic opportunities for Zia, Laguna, and Tri-chapter area of Eastern Navajo tribes through developing sustainable nurseries that will provide local culturally appropriate jobs by growing native plants that can be sold locally to larger nurseries.