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From Field to Fork – New Mexico Needs an Updated Farm Bill

Larry Reagan is the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau President.
New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau.
Larry Reagan is the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau President.

Commentary:

As a fourth-generation cattle rancher and president of the grassroots agriculture organization New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau, I can’t stress enough how vital it is that Congress swiftly pass a farm bill this year. I am not alone in this sentiment. In light of global disruptions to the supply chain and high inflation, the majority of Americans believe it is a national security priority to ensure we have a safe and abundant food supply, according to a recent American Farm Bureau Federation survey.

 I have utilized several voluntary and incentive-based conservation programs funded by the farm bill to assist me in improving the natural resources throughout my family ranch. I started participating in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) 11 years ago. I saw increased quantity and quality of grasses that soon brought a robust population of wildlife to our ranch. I have also utilized the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for mechanical brush control to improve our pasture quality, for cross fencing to support our rotational grazing management, and for pipeline installations to increase access to water for livestock and wildlife. The farm bill supports 4.6 million CSP acres and 1.5 million EQIP acres in New Mexico, and the swift passage of the farm bill will ensure farmers and ranchers such as myself can continue to complete this vital conservation work.

 In addition to the conservation programs available through the farm bill, I also rely on federal crop insurance to pull our family ranch through the hard times. The extended drought we face in the West and across the country highlights the importance of these farm bill programs that serve as a safety net for farmers and ranchers. Insurance programs such as Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage (PRF), which I have personally used, are the bread and butter of the farm bill and have kept many farmers and ranchers like me in business over the past several years. According to the AFBF poll, nearly 70% of adults say these risk management programs that provide a safety net to farmers and ranchers, along with nutrition programs that support families facing hunger, should be a top priority for government funding in the farm bill.

 The farm bill touches family farms and ranches just like mine across New Mexico and the nation. I have used farm bill programs to better steward the natural resources entrusted to my care and keep my family ranch viable. The passage of the farm bill is crucial to supporting New Mexico’s food and agriculture sector that provides $40.12 billion to the state's economy and supports more than 261,000 jobs. The farm bill has a long tradition of bipartisan support and now, more than ever, it’s important for Congress to work together to ensure farmers and ranchers can continue to provide the safest, most affordable food supply in the world. I urge you to contact your members of Congress today and urge them to pass farm bill now.

Larry Reagan is President of the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau. Larry Reagan's opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of KRWG Public Media or NMSU.

Larry Reagan is the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau President.