Although small-scale agriculture doesn't hold the stature it once did in New Mexico as a lifelong pursuit and economic engine, a group of young farmers are taking to the Roundhouse in Santa Fe to ensure their chosen profession is viable in the decades ahead.
Members of both New Mexico chapters of the National Young Farmers Coalition gathered in Santa Fe Wednesday (Jan. 24) to share with a handful of legislators their specific challenges as young farmers, including land access, student loan debt, water conservation and farmland succession.
The convening was announced in a Monday (Jan. 22) press release from the coalition.
"It's important to get involved in local politics and policymaking and be part of the change, otherwise you forfeit your right to complain," says Alex Pino, president of the Northern New Mexico Young Farmers' Alliance. "So get involved by showing up, standing up and speaking out."
The coalition called this moment "a particularly serious time for agriculture in New Mexico," as the average age of farmers in the Land of Enchantment is 61 years old, and the number of farmers in New Mexico who are over 55 outnumbers farmers under 35 by 14-to-1.
Organizers of the Roundhouse effort planned to meet with legislators, including Sens. Gerald Ortiz y Pino and Jacob Candelaria. Among the issues they wanted to push is a "Young Farmer Agenda," a comprehensive set of policy reforms meant to address the major concerns of the coalition.
For more information on the coalition, contact Alex Funk at firstname.lastname@example.org.