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Agriculture's role in state economy, culture and water cycle

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By Jeff Witte

National Farmers Market Week got me thinking about the economic and cultural importance of not just the state’s 75 farmers markets, but of New Mexico agriculture more broadly.
On the economics side, New Mexico agriculture is a $4 billion per year sector. But the true financial impact of agriculture in the state is much bigger.
That number is a measure of the value of agricultural commodities at the farm or ranch: things like live cattle, raw milk and unprocessed wheat. Turning those commodities into the products that most people no longer make for themselves — such as when milk gets turned into cheese, and when wheat gets turned into flour — adds several billion dollars more to the system.
In fact, researchers at New Mexico State University recently estimated that agriculture and food processing, combined “accounted for $10.6 billion (roughly 12.3 percent) of New Mexico’s $86.5 billion gross state product (GSP) in 2012. In addition, the two industries directly created 32,578 jobs and 18,308 jobs in related support activities for a total of 50,886 jobs statewide.”
Interested readers can learn more by reading NMSU Cooperative Extension Service Circular 675, entitled “Agriculture’s Contribution to New Mexico’s Economy.”


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