Number of Young Farmers Rising in New Mexico

Feb 23, 2014

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A new government survey shows New Mexico has more farms and ranches than it did five years ago.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture survey also shows the state has seen significant increases in the number of young and minority farmers in recent years.

State Agriculture Secretary Jeff Witte says he's glad to see a wider diversity of people getting into farming and ranching across the state. He says that diversity will help create more opportunity.

The 2012 agriculture census shows there are more than 24,700 farms and ranches in New Mexico, an 18 percent increase since 2007. That bucks a long-term national trend that has seen the number of U.S. farms drop. Meanwhile, the amount of land for farming in the state has remained steady at about 43.2 million acres.

The survey also found that the number of minority-operated farms rose in the last five years, especially in the Hispanic community. The number of Hispanic-operated farms climbed from about 6,400 to more than 9,300.

The value of New Mexico agriculture products in 2012 came to $2.6 billion, a 17 percent jump from 2007.