NM Delegation Applauds $1.6 Million in USDA Grants for Agricultural Training and Support for Military Veterans, Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

Press Release

U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) applauded $1.6 million in grants to three organizations that will support New Mexico military veterans and beginning farmers and ranchers with agricultural training, sustainability education and support to begin successful careers in agriculture.

Not Forgotten Outreach will use a $749,826 award for outreach to over 750 veterans and military families in agricultural practices to support their transition from military to civilian life. La Semilla Food Center will use a $568,435 grant to support beginning farmers in the colonias of Southern New Mexico with the knowledge, skills and tools to adapt to the regional climate and to help them access the produce market. The Quivira Coalition will use a $296,358 award to help support the organization's 8-month apprenticeship program that pairs beginning ranchers and farmers with experienced counterparts who are using regenerative practices on large-landscape operations.

"Communities across New Mexico have a proud agricultural tradition in an industry that is foundational to our state's economy. We must ensure that all young people and beginning farmers have access to the opportunities and tools they need in order to grow successful agricultural businesses," said Udall, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. "New Mexico also has a proud tradition of inter-generational service to our country. Supporting our veterans when they come home from deployment and making sure they can use their talents to continue serving our communities is one of my priorities. I've championed funding for these programs for many years and I'll continue to fight for resources to equip our young people and veterans with the resources and training they deserve."

"I am committed to securing resources for New Mexico's diverse agricultural producers," said Heinrich. "All three of these organizations do incredible work in their communities--from Not Forgotten Outreach's service with northern New Mexico veterans to La Semilla's efforts to establish healthy food systems in southern New Mexico's colonias to the Quivira Coalition's mission to help a new generation of ranchers build resilient and sustainable working landscapes. I will continue to support New Mexico's farmers and ranchers so they can keep growing healthy foods and fuel rural economies across our state."

"New Mexico's agriculture industry is a major economic driver for local communities, and it's crucial that veterans and beginning farmers and ranchers are supported in the industry. In Congress, I have always fought for our veterans, farmers, and ranchers, including the mandatory funding for the Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach program included in the 2018 Farm Bill. I am glad that these funds will go toward local organizations serving New Mexicans," said Luján. "These local organizations are tackling the issues that veterans and beginning farmers and ranchers face and helping empower their success. I'll continue fighting for additional resources for our veterans, military families, and farmers and ranchers.

"New Mexico has a long history of sustaining ourselves through agriculture and developing rich traditions. While working in the corn fields with my grandpa, I learned about the value that our land holds, but as the economy has evolved, fewer and fewer people have the interest and the knowledge to continue that tradition. Meanwhile, veterans are coming home and looking for civilian job opportunities. This federal funding will not only enrich our agricultural traditions and economy by providing tools, training, and sustainable practices to new farmers and ranchers, it will also provide more job opportunities in agriculture for veterans and military families who are transitioning into civilian life," said Haaland.

"In southern New Mexico, our farmers and producers play an important role in powering our state's agricultural engine. Throughout the pandemic, I've heard from producers who are fighting to adapt to challenges on multiple fronts, like sudden changes to critical supply chains and a dwindling water supply. This funding comes at a crucial time and will create opportunities for veterans and beginning farmers by providing access to key markets, new skills, and sharing knowledge of the land. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I will continue to advocate for the resources our producers need to recover and rebuild," said Torres Small.

Not Forgotten Outreach

Through NFO VetCorps, members will receive agricultural training and resources to assist them with transitioning from military to civilian life. VetCorps serves as a military veteran or family member's second mission, through providing healthy food to local, low-income families. Primary populations served: NFO's target audience for this proposal is Veterans and Military Families in Taos County and Northern New Mexico, which has a deeply rooted culture of military service.

La Semilla Food Center

The youth and community garden programming at La Semilla Food Center is designed to build a healthy, self-reliant, fair, and sustainable food system in the Paso del Norte region of southern New Mexico and El Paso, Texas. La Semilla is the only nonprofit organization solely devoted to fostering a healthy Paso del Norte food system, with a vision of creating a vibrant food system that prioritizes community and environmental health.

La Quivira Coalition

The word "quivira" comes from the term on old Spanish maps for the uncharted territory. Now in its third decade, Quivira is a non-profit organization based in Santa Fe, New Mexico dedicated to building economic and ecological resilience on western working landscapes.

Since the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill) authorized its creation, the National Institution of Food and Agriculture (NIFA),with the support of funding from Congress, has taken significant strides toward enhancing the impact of food agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences. NIFA provides funding for programs, supports initiatives that ensures the long-term viability of agriculture, and ensures that groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture-related sciences and technologies reach the people who can put them into practice.

- The Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans Program, funded under NIFA, provides grants to non-profits to increase the number of military veterans gaining knowledge and skills through comprehensive, hands-on and immersive model farm and ranch programs offered regionally that lead to successful careers in the food and agricultural sector. The program encourages the development of training opportunities specifically designed for military veterans. Ensuring there are pathways for military veterans interested in pursuing careers in agriculture -- regardless of age or production choice -- strengthens agricultural production and rural economies across the United States.

- The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), funded under NIFA, is the only federal program exclusively dedicated to training the next generation of farmers and ranchers. BFRDP provides farmers with the technical production and business skills they need to start successful farm operations through hands-on training projects. For over a decade, this highly successful initiative has provided competitively awarded grants to community organizations, state extension services, academic institutions, and producer groups to support and train new farmers and ranchers across the country.