New Mexico‘s economy has been based in cattle ranching and farming for two centuries. There are still 23,000 farms operating in the state. Wheat is the highest volume crop in terms of acreage with nearly one million acres in production. Corn for grain is second largest volume crop. There is one biofuel facility in New Mexico which drives demand for grain. For the smaller grower there are more than 60 farmers’ markets statewide.
New Mexico is the number one state for chile production and the number two state in pecan production in the nation. Competitive electric prices, land costs, and wages separate New Mexico from other states.
In the last several years New Mexico has become a national leader in cheese and milk production, averaging 677,660,541 pounds of milk per month and a total of 8,131,926,494 in 2011. This production equals approximately 169,000 tanker truck loads of raw milk a year. New Mexico currently has 156 dairies that ship milk across state lines. There are 15 processing plants in the state that produce a wide range of products from packaged fluid milk to cheese to whey protein concentrate. New Mexico is home to several cheese plants. Two of the largest are Southwest Cheese, in Clovis, and Leprino Foods, in Roswell.
The Frito Pie was invented here. Specialty foods from New Mexico are sold worldwide. Behind those success stories is chile. In fact, chile seeds are sold worldwide. Planted chile acreage in 2011 increased to a total of 10,000 acres. Production was 68,850 tons compared to 66,600 in 2010. The estimated value of the crop in 2011 was $46.7 million, compared to $41.6 million in 2010. Luna and Doña Ana County lead the state in chile production.
Pecans, pistachios and peanuts are grown and processed here and shipped worldwide. Sunland Peanuts, in Portales, produces a variety of products with Valencia peanuts. Sunland’s (Organic) Chipotle Chile Peanut Butter won the 2011 Gourmet Product Awards in Organic.
The demand for organic products nationally currently exceeds production. The New Mexico Department of Agriculture provides organic certification and assists farmers in selling their product and provides a variety of training to the industry. There are currently more than 150 organic farms in New Mexico. Some examples:
- Skarsgard Farms
- Coonridge Organic Goat Cheese
- Pollo Real/Real Chicken
- Shepard’s Lamb
- Soaring Eagle Ranch
Herbal and Homoeopathic
Herbs are a growth industry in New Mexico and are widely used, along with homeopathic remedies. Heel Inc., a German company, produces a line of their homeopathic remedies in Albuquerque. There are many herb growers in the state including
- El Milagro Herbs
- Taos Herb Company
- Rio Grande Herbs
The Wine Industry
New Mexico’s sunbaked soils and chilly high-desert nights provide fertile ground for a wide variety of varietals. Wine was first produced in New Mexico in 1629 by Spanish missionaries. More than 20 wineries produce approximately 350,000 gallons annually. Festivals are held throughout the state each summer and early fall.
There are several organizations in the state that assist farms and value-added agriculture businesses:
Rural Jobs Tax Credit
Companies that manufacture or produce a product in New Mexico, export more than 50% of their services out of state and certain green industries in rural communities may be eligible for a tax credit for each new job created. This credit can be applied to taxes due on (state) gross receipts, corporate income, or personal income tax. Rural New Mexico is defined as any part of the state other than Los Alamos County; certain municipalities: Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Farmington, Las Cruces, Roswell, and Santa Fe; and a 10-mile zone around those select municipalities. The amount of the credit depends on the size of the community; 12.5% or 25% of the first $16,000 in wages paid for the qualifying job.
Agricultural Business Tax Deductions and Exemptions
Gross receipts tax exemptions are permitted for feeding, pasturing, penning, handling or training livestock, and selling livestock; live poultry and unprocessed agricultural products, plus hides and pelts. Gross receipts tax deductions are available for selling to agribusinesses
Beer and Wine Producers
Microbreweries producing less than 5,000 barrels of beer annually and small wineries producing less then 560,000 liters of wine per year qualify for a preferential tax rate. Wine produced by a small vintner carries a tax of 10 cents per liter on. the first 80,000 liters and 20 cents on production over that level up to 560,000 liters. Beer produced by a microbrewery (defined above) is taxed at 8 cents per gallon.
Education and Workforce Development
New Mexico’s Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP) has been recognized as one of the best in the nation (ranked 3rd by Business Facilities). JTIP funds three types of customized training for newly-created jobs:
Custom classroom training at a public education institution
Structured on-the-job training (OJT)
A combination of the two
Reimbursable expenses include 50 to 75 percent of the trainee’s wages for up to six months and/or the cost of custom classroom training.