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2018 NM Legislative Session Successes

In last minute negotiations by the House and Senate on the final budget, the NM Grown Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for School Meals gained even more support, Senate Finance Committee committed $225,000 to add to the House Appropriations
Budget of $200,000 totaling $425,000, more than the legislative request to restore funding to the program, HB 62 and SB 106. Thanks to our sponsors Representative Jimmie Hall and Speaker Egolf, and Senators Howie Morales, Woods and Campos. The goal to create a permanent program within the NM Public Education Department is about to be realized with support from the NM School Nutrition Association, Farm to Table, the NM Food and Ag Policy Council, CPLC New Mexico, COPE the NM Departments of Ag and the Department of Health. Groups anticipate the support of the Governor and Legislative Branch, yet 20 days of review are still ahead. Future plans include expanding the program to include farm to school education related programs and to explore how to add New Mexico’s beef to the school lunch plate.

Senate Joint Memorial 2, in support the future of frontier and rural communities,  passed with flying colors. The purpose of the memorial is to convene a working group to identify the challenges unique to frontier communities and seek a broad array of opportunities to strengthen the future of these communities. Frontier communities are the remote and geographically isolated settlements and villages that over centuries evolved in the Land of Enchantment. They face unique economic and social challenges. The group will focus on employment, aging population issues, education attainment, lower access
to health care, healthy food, adequate housing, broadband and reliable transportation.

House Memorial 61 focused on priority programs in the federal Farm Bill that benefit New Mexico’s agriculture, nutrition, and conservation programs.  Sponsored by Representative Dodge, the memorial passed the Agriculture Committee and went on to gain unanimous support of the House of Representatives 66 to 0. The memorial and legislature’s passage supports the efforts of the NM Resilience in Farming and Ranching initiative led by NM First, NM State University and a team of multiple organizations and agencies focusing on a set of priorities to strengthen the economic viability of family farming and ranching, and support industries in New Mexico into the future.

Soil and water conservation districts led the way in program support and future needs.

A memorial to initiate a hunger task force came late in the session and was passed in the last moments. This follows previous efforts over the last 15 years to stem the tide of hunger in New Mexico, a state that continues to be pledged by some of the highest hunger and poverty in the nation.

All legislation having any inclusion of a potential to reinstate a food tax did not pass.

The Governor and Executive Branch now until March 7 to focus on their priorities in the $6.4 billion Legislative bipartisan budget and decide what will ultimately receive state funding and agency support. Increased education funding and state agency and teacher employee raises are part of the package. A spokeswoman for Governor Martinez stated that she is receptive to the budget. Legislative leaders worked with the Governor to prioritize economic development, public safety and crime solutions.

More details of the final progress of the budget and bills in the Governors’ purview and  additional food and agriculture related bills and their outcomes in subsequent news.

We want to thank all who supported the priorities of the NM Food and Agriculture Policy Council, NM School Nutrition Association and partner organizations and agencies. We appreciate all who participated in the Nm Food and farms Day and School Nutrition Day at the Legislature – an incredible turnout, organized efforts, and incredible enthusiasm and support. It truly takes us all to create change and support important programs. We look forward to our continued collective work ahead!