USDA grant to help beginning farmers, ranchers in southern pueblos
Beginning farmers and ranchers in the 10 southern pueblos will benefit from a $661,409 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant received by New Mexico State University in collaboration with the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.
The grant is among $18 million in funding awarded through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program to 40 organizations in 24 states.
"The Southern Pueblos Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program will serve as a model for future Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Programs at other American Indian farming regions that share similar characteristics," said Edmund Gomez, director of the Cooperative Extension Service's Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs Project, which is the recipient of the grant.
The three-year grant will provide 55 Native American agricultural producers, who have been farming or ranching for 10 years or less, the best possible research-based and proven sustainable educational and technical assistance through culturally accepted methods in an effort to empower them with skills and knowledge necessary to compete and succeed in their agricultural business endeavors.
General training for the beginning farmers and ranchers from Cochiti, San Felipe, Santo Domingo, Sandia, Santa Ana, Zia, Jemez, Isleta, Laguna and Acoma pueblos will include not only the aspects of raising crops or livestock, but also bookkeeping techniques necessary to access USDA programs and other technical assistance.
Participants in the program will be selected through an application and interview process. Community meetings at each pueblo are being held through October to inform prospective participants of the program.
"We will be conducting one-on-one interviews with the participants to develop a three-year plan designed specifically for their agricultural goals," said Gomez. "During the winter we will be conducting educational workshops on appropriate topics, such as the importance of soil testing and how to improve the soil nutrients. Then beginning in the spring and through the growing season we will assist the participants with their production issues."
For more information about the Southern Pueblo Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program, contact Gomez at NMSU's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde, 505-852-4241.