N.M. Senators: Senate-approved agriculture spending bill supports New Mexico

U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall today reported that a key spending bill that passed the Senate today (80-17) contains funding for key New Mexico agricultural-related projects.

The 2010 Agricultural Appropriations Bill contains $350,000 the senators secured for the Southern Great Plains Dairy Consortium. The funding is for New Mexico State University’s Agriculture Science Center in Clovis to continue its work to support of the state’s dairy industry. The consortium will enhance the dairy industry’s competitiveness and its impact on the economy, and will also focus on the environmental impact of dairy production, including converting biomass waste to energy.

“New Mexico’s dairy industry continues to be a tremendously important part of New Mexico’s economy. This funding will allow NMSU to help ensure it remains competitive,” Bingaman said.

“From our dairy industry to our growers, a strong New Mexico economy depends on the success of our agricultural industry,” said Udall. “These projects will serve our communities well in ensuring our future competitiveness.”

The bill also contains funding for the following projects:

• $25 million for Water and Wastewater Projects in Colonias along the U.S.-Mexico border: New Mexico is expected to get about $7.9 million of this funding.

• $983,000 for the Joe Skeen Institute for Rangeland Management: The institute conducts research on agricultural, range management, animal husbandry, education and extension programs. The institute is a joint effort of NMSU, Texas A&M and Montana State.

• $800,000 for USDA to contract with the Albuquerque-based National Tribal Environmental Council to continue a Native American circuit rider program to provide technical assistance for rural water systems.

• $404,000 for NMSU and the State Department of Agriculture to continue work on an Internet-based system for early detection and reporting of outbreaks of infectious diseases in food animals. The system is known as the Rapid Syndrome Validation Program for Animals. This is the sixth year funds have been earmarked for this effort.

• $24 million to continue a Bingaman-created grant program that supports community development projects in Native American Communities. The funds are set aside for basic drinking water and wastewater systems, tribal colleges, and business promotion in Indian country.

Finally, the bill contains $200,000 to restore and maintain riparian areas along the Rio Grande, Pecos and Canadian Rivers where the state is working to treat and kill the noxious salt cedar. The funding would be used to restore native vegetation to riparian areas in order to stabilize soils; to maintain replanted areas; and for management to prevent invasive species from returning to treated areas. The Senate-passed 2010 Agricultural Appropriations Bill must now be reconciled with the version passed by the House of Representatives.