By Jack King: CNJ staff writer
In the spirit of Clovis’ successful Committee of 50, the recently organized Ag 50 of Eastern New Mexico aims to work for the best interests of agricultural producers and the community, the group’s Chairman Blake Curtis said Wednesday.
Ag 50 will hold a breakfast at 6:30 a.m. Friday at Wells Fargo Bank. The breakfast’s featured speaker will be Paul Gutierrez, deputy assistant secretary for the U. S. Department of Agriculture; Rick Lopez, the USDA’s state director may also attend, Curtis said.
Gutierrez will speak on upcoming changes in agricultural policy and what will happen in the industry over the next 18 months to a year, Curtis said.
The officials’ appearance fit in well with Ag 50’s overall goal, which is to “do its best to create a series of friends and contacts we can call on when times are bad,” Curtis said.
“When times are good, we want to have serious input on agricultural issues and on long-term agricultural policy,” he added.
The group is the brainchild of several people in the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce who saw that agriculture issues and economics are the concern of everyone in the community, Curtis said.
“The genesis of this was in 2002, when Dick Smith was chamber president. Then I was president last year and Jay Neff, the current chamber president, also was an enthusiastic participant. So, it’s really two years and three chamber presidents in the making,” he said.
Ag 50’s executive committee is Curtis; Sid Strebeck, chairman elect; James Bostwick, vice-chairman; Jim Sours, secretary/treasurer; and Buddy Bennett, Stan Ware and Doug Reid, members at large.
A membership pledge is $500 a year and Curtis said 40 people have already paid or pledged to be members.
Bostwick, a Melrose-area farmer, said group members hope to ensure there will be a chance for their children and grandchildren to earn a living in agriculture in the Clovis/Curry County area.
“The long-term trend is toward bigger and bigger farms with fewer and fewer people working on them. That’s not conducive to the health of any farming community,” he said.
For reservations to the breakfast or for information about Ag 50, call 763-3435.