“New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers are a critical part of our economy. I will continue to support programs in Congress that can help farmers and ranchers become a thriving part of our country’s agriculture.” -Ben Ray Luján

Supporting New Mexico’s Acequias and Land Grants

In 2014, Congressman Luján worked to secure the passage of a provision in the Farm Bill that helped farmers and ranchers care for the acequias that are essential to their way of life. To build on that work, Congressman Luján then introduced legislation, The Acequia Conservation Program Eligibility Act  to enable New Mexico’s acequias to qualify for federal funding through the Farm Bill by removing remaining roadblocks and streamlining eligibility. Specifically, the legislation would enable community ditch associations to access federal funds through four conservation programs in order to make improvements or repair damage to these important irrigation channels.
Congressman Luján has also introduced legislation to provide greater consultation between the federal government and New Mexico’s land grants and acequias. For the first time, land grants and acequias in New Mexico would also receive recognition of the traditional uses of their natural resources. This legislation clarifies permit requirements for activities undertaken by acequias and land grants on their land, making it easier for land grants and acequias to maintain their traditions. This bill also codifies a previous legal ruling that determined consultation and special use permits are not required for maintenance and improvements within the historic easement for Acequias.

Building a Strong and Diverse Farming Workforce 

Minorities and Veteran farmers and ranchers have historically faced difficulty participating in USDA programs. Since 2008, the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also known as the 2501 program) has significantly increased the number of Latino, Asian-American, Native American, and African American farmers and ranchers. here also remains a need for greater assistance to veteran farmers and ranchers, many of whom live in rural areas. Congressman Lujánintroduced the Assist Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Act of 2018, which will help strengthen the 2501 program and ensure that farmers and ranchers of color and veterans have equitable access to USDA programs and have the opportunity to be competitive in a changing agricultural landscape.
Congressman Luján also led a bipartisan letter with over 50 of his House colleagues and supported by over 100 regional and national organizations to the House Agriculture Committee leadership requesting the creation of a new Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach (FOTO) program. The FOTO program would combine and strengthen the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) and the OASDVFR program, two existing programs serving our nation’s farmers.

Accelerating Small-Scale Entrepreneurship in Farming and Ranching Communities

New Mexico's farmers grow crops that are a vital part of our economy, as well as our culture,. It's these fields and furrows that truly make us the Land of Enchantment, and it is why the Congressman believes we must work innovatively and aggressively to preserve them and support the producers whose value-added products are the best in the world.
The Congressman introduced the bipartisan Growing Value-Added Economies Act  to promote small-scale entrepreneurship, which is a proven economic development strategy that works in rural communities like those in New Mexico. This legislation would ensure the continued funding of the Value-Added Producer Grant program, create an independent peer-review panel to evaluate applications, create an outreach and technical assistance program to make the program more accessible, and limit administrative expenses and program evaluation costs to no more than five percent of the funds allocated each fiscal year.

Passing A Strong Farm Bill

The farm bill is an omnibus, multi-year law that governs an array of agricultural and food programs. Northern New Mexicans have an intimate relationship with local agriculture. The ability for the country to grow and raise its own food right here at home is vital to our ability to support ourselves in the future. From the production of chile, to the raising of cattle, New Mexico is home to a wide array of agricultural products that contribute greatly to the economy and culture. Congressman Luján is committed to working with local producers to ensure that they are treated fairly and address their concerns in the Farm Bill.

Congressman Luján has publically supported full, mandatory funding for Farm Bill conservation programs, which improve soil health, defend against drought and flooding events, limit water pollution, and improve wildlife habitat.

Cuts to these programs limit the abilities of farmers, ranchers and foresters to implement common sense conservation practices.

In June 2018, Congressman Luján voted against a partisan Farm Bill that would have cut $23 billion in food programs, which would hurt New Mexico’s veterans, seniors, children, and people with disabilities. The bill also would have eliminated programs designed to help farmers and ranchers be better stewards of their lands.