Commentary: WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 24, 2018) - U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) announced that New Mexico State University (NMSU) Agriculture Extension Program has received a $1.18 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The Resilient Agroecosystems in a Changing Climate award will fund research into the best strategies for arid land farmers and ranchers in the Southern Great Plains in Union County, New Mexico, Las Animas, Colorado, and Cimarron County, Oklahoma to adapt to times of drought.
"Persistent drought is reality in New Mexico and across the West, and as climate change increases the severity of our water shortages, the region’s farmers and ranchers must adapt," said Udall. "This significant investment in NMSU’s research supports proactive science-based solutions that will help New Mexico’s agricultural community remain resilient in a changing climate though better data and citizen engagement. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations committee, I’ll keep fighting for the resources we need to ensure that our state has a robust agricultural economy that will serve our nation far into the future."
"As we confront longer and more persistent droughts, Western farmers and ranchers must have the best possible data and science to make sustainable land management decisions," said Heinrich. "I'm pleased that NMSU is taking the lead in helping our agriculture community adapt to landscape-level changes to our land and water. I will continue to support strong federal investments like this in scientific solutions to the climate adaptation challenges we face in New Mexico."
"Our country's future food security needs and our ability to grow the food and agricultural sector of our economy depend on improving the efficiency, resilience and sustainability of the system," said NMSU President Dr. John Floros. "In order to develop a sustainable food and agricultural system for future generations, we must learn how to manage our natural resources better, particularly our scarce water resources in the Southern Great Plains. We must also understand the impact of the changing climate on agricultural production. Our farmers and ranchers need better management approaches, and in that respect, this study will help significantly."
"We believe that sustainable management solutions that promote ecological, economic, and social resilience in response to drought and climate variability are more effectively developed and more likely adopted using participatory approaches including citizen science," said Dr. Amy Ganguli, Associate Professor of Range Science at NMSU. "Our research and extension teams will foster the co-production of knowledge with land managers and will disseminate this information in formal and informal programs and educational materials. State and Federal agencies and NGO's involved in policy making will greatly benefit from information on how residents perceive and implement programs and policies."
NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service delivers research-based information to farmers, ranchers, and landowners throughout New Mexico. The program has a presence in each of the state's 33 counties and reaches New Mexicans through education programs in issues such as food production and water conservation.
Additional information on the award is available here.