witte and flores rsNew Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte and New Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Dean Rolando A. Flores will be continuing their listening sessions with three stops in 2018. The first session will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 28, at the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds in Roswell. (NMSU photo by Jane Moorman)WRITER: Jane Moorman, 505-249-0527, jmoorman@nmsu.edu

New Mexico's top agricultural leaders will be on the road again with stops in Roswell, Belen and Alamogordo for a second year of statewide listening sessions with agricultural producers.

New Mexico State University's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Dean Rolando A. Flores and New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte will host three sessions around the state to hear the concerns of farmers and ranchers.

"As representatives of NMSU we voice the agricultural needs through research, teaching and extension," Flores said. "The best way to know about the agricultural issues is to listen to the stakeholders in the state."

"We look forward to meeting with New Mexico residents across the state and listening to their concerns," Witte said. "The listening sessions provide New Mexicans with the opportunity to engage in face-to-face conversation with us, while allowing us to answer questions they may have regarding agriculture in our state."

Last year's topics and concerns included aging agricultural producers, access to federal land, lack of a meat processing plant, agriculture literacy, the general public's lack of awareness of the economic impact of agriculture, water engineering and use, and the impact of the federal Farm Bill and foreign trade agreements. These topics and others were addressed during the listening sessions in Portales, Abiquiu and Las Cruces.

"The sessions in 2017 were very informative and have assisted us in targeting some issues," Flores said. "This year we are going to focus on explaining the importance of supporting the General Obligation Bond in November's election because it will prompt a real transformation to agriculture in New Mexico that will positively impact communities and the economy."

Roswell will be the first 2018 session from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 28, at the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds.

The next two sessions will be on May 31 in Belen and July 18 in Alamogordo. Time and place will be announced prior to the events.

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