spring 2013

Noticias de las Acequias
New Mexico Acequia Association
January 2014
Capital Outlay Requests are due Saturday, February 1
IAcequias who plan to request Capital Outlay should submit their Capital Outlay Request Forms by Saturday, February 1.  Click here for the form.  It has to be completed with a description of your request, the amount being requested, and a signature from your legislator who will sponsor the request.  NMAA highly encourages acequias to have a completed design if asking for construction funding.  If the project does not need a design (for example, culverts, farm headgates, etc.), a cost estimate based on advice from the NRCS or Interstate Stream Commission would also be useful in completing your request.   In order to be eligible for Capital Outlay, your acequia must also be compliant with the Governor's Executive Order requiring audits and financial reports.  Please contact NMAA if you have any questions or need technical assistance by calling 505-995-9644. 
Legislative Update: Issues for the 2014 Budget

The New Mexico State Legislature convened on January 21st for a 30-day budget session after a series of several meetings during the legislative interim between May and November. NMAA will focus on the following budget issues during the 2014 session: 

  • Acequia and Community Ditch Fund  
  • Irrigation Works Construction Fund
  •  Capital Outlay Funding for Acequias
  •  Office of the State Auditor Funding

Acequia and Community Ditch Fund

The ACDF was created by statute in 1988 by the State Legislature to ensure that acequias and community ditches have legal representation in the adjudication process.  Funds are used to provide financial assistance to acequias and community ditches for hydrological studies, historical studies, legal fees, expert witness fees, and other services necessary for defense of acequia water rights.



Irrigations Works Construction Fund

During the December Legislative Finance Committee, the State Engineer Scott Verhines and ISC Director Estevan Lopez presented their budget request of roughly $39 million including a $1.3 expansion from the previous year.


One item that received considerable attention was the Irrigation Works Construction Fund. The fund receives about $8 million in recurring funding from revenue generated by the State Land Office. While the fund is intended for irrigation projects, the state has been appropriating funds from the IWCF to fund a variety of costs of the OSE and ISC including operations such as salaries.


The base amount in the fund at the end of FY2013 was estimated at $20 million but with spending out of the fund exceeding revenues in the amount of $16 million per year: the IWCF will be depleted by FY2015. Starting FY2016, the legislature will have no choice to fund more of the OSE and ISC with General Fund money. Representative Lucky Varela requested that the LFC and the Executive Branch develop recommendations to reduce spending from the IWCF and cover part of the OSE/ISC budget with General Fund starting this year to protect the base level from being completely depleted. Of the $16 million budgeted to the OSE/ISC, $1.9 million is appropriated to the Acequia Program at the ISC to cover the 90-10 cost share program and the low interest loan program.


Capital Outlay

In terms of Capital Outlay funding, there will be an estimated $184 million to appropriate but the estimated requests will likely exceed $1 billion. Governor Susana Martinez has proposed spending about 60% of this amount or $112 million on critical water projects but it is not certain whether this amount includes funding for acequia needs. In past years, the House, Senate, and Governor divide the available Capital Outlay funds.  In any case, acequias are encouraged to submit Capital Outlay requests to their legislators and also to complete the DFA questionnaire for consideration by both the legislature and the Governor. 


Any governmental entity that is appropriated Capital Outlay funds has to be compliant an Executive Order issued by Governor Susana Martinez that requires that such entities be current on all audit and reporting requirements of the Office of the State Auditor and the Department of Finance and Administration. The updated Capital Outlay Request Form includes questions to determine whether the applicant has complied with these requirements.


If your annual expenditures are less than $50,000, all that is required by the State Auditor is a Certification Letter. If the acequia expenditures exceed $50,000 or if Capital Outlay funds were expended, then a Financial Report is required by the State Auditor. DFA requires that all political subdivisions submit budgets and reports if your annual budget is over $10,000. Call NMAA for more info.


State Auditor Funding

SB 4 (Cisneros) will make an appropriation to the Office of the State Auditor to perform audits for acequias. Because acequias and other local governments/special districts lack funds to pay for the services of an accountant to prepare financial reports and audits, the Legislative Finance Committee also discussed providing supplemental funds to the Office of the State Auditor. The funds would be used for additional staffing to provide assistance for small governmental entities with their audits or financial reports.


Most acequias fall into Tier 1 or Tier 2 which are defined by annual expenditures under $10,000 or $50,000, respectively. An acequia with annual expenditures over $50,000 or that has spent more than half of a capital outlay appropriation in a given year is required to complete a financial report based on agreed upon procedures (AUP) defined by the State Auditor.


During the current fiscal year, the Office of the State Auditor assisted 18 acequias with AUP financial reports but State Auditor Hector Balderas noted that to do so in the future, additional funding to his agency would be needed. In the upcoming legislative session, Senator Carlos Cisneros and Representative Nick Salazar have both offered to sponsor legislation to provide supplemental funding of about $500,000 to $1 million for the State Auditor.


2nd Annual New Mexico Food and Farms Day
Highlights Local Food Entrepreneurs, Growers

What: New Mexico Food & Farms Day
When: Wednesday, January 29 at 9:00am
Where: Roundhouse - State Capitol Building in the Rotunda

A group of more than 100 local food entrepreneurs, farmers, small businesses and advocates will come together to launch a campaign to support local food and farms in New Mexico.   The event will be held on Wednesday, January 29th at the State Capitol and will highlight key legislative proposals including a bill to promote local produce in New Mexico school meals (HB 81), a bill to build food-related economic development infrastructure in New Mexico, support for the NM Water Fund and capital outlay funds to food and related agriculture infrastructure project in New Mexico.


"In these challenging economic times when a quarter of New Mexico's children are considered food insecure, it is even more important that we meet their nutritional needs through a healthy school lunch that includes fresh fruits and vegetables. Investing in our school meal program to purchase New Mexico grown fresh fruits and vegetables is a win - win for children and their health as well as New Mexico's farming families", exclaimed Senator Pete Campos.


"Almost two thirds of school districts in New Mexico serve locally and regionally sourced produce," said Pam Roy, Executive Director of Farm to Table. "We want all New Mexico's children to have access to this healthy local food and New Mexico farmers to have viable market opportunities."


"Studies have shown that for every dollar that goes to local agricultural producers, $1.80 is circulated in the local economy," said Tim Nisly, Chief Operating Officer at the Rio Grande Community Development Corporation in Albuquerque's South Valley. "The jobs created by local food and agricultural economic development should be supported by all levels of government."


Organizers hope that the growing local food and agriculture sector will receive the support from consumers and public institutions that other industries in the state have received.


"There are 72 farmers markets serving New Mexico produce to 36,000 people per week in 27 counties," said Denise Miller, Executive Director of the New Mexico Farmers' Marketing Association. "If every New Mexican consumer purchased only 15 percent of their food from the state's farmers and ranchers, it would increase annual farm income by $392 million."


Improving the availability of locally grown food depends on the protection of farmland and water rights that are part of New Mexico's acequias," said Paula Garcia, Executive Director of the New Mexico Acequia Association.   


The event will be launched with a press conference at 9:00am in the State Capitol's Rotunda, a Memorial sponsored by Senator Pete Campos and Representative Don Tripp will be presented in the Senate and House Chamber after 10am. The event is expected to draw participation from more than 100 local food, farm and other related small business and non-profit supporters. For more information visit www.farmtotablenm.org.  


Legislative Proposals

New Mexico Grown Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for School Meals 

HB 81, sponsored by Representative Don Tripp and SB __ Senator Pete Campos: This bill will provide $1.44 million for the purchase of New Mexico grown fruits and vegetables for school meals for children. Studies show that fruits and vegetables enhance children's diets promoting healthier lifestyles and increasing academic achievement. This would strengthen New Mexico's farming economy and the economies of our rural communities by increasing market opportunities for farmers.


Statewide Cohesive Food Infrastructure, sponsored by Representative Chavez and Senator Howie Morales. This bill will support the revitalization of underutilized kitchen assets in New Mexico by creating community kitchens that can accelerate the growth of rural food entrepreneurs. A proven model of kitchen incubation will be implemented, as exemplified by "the Mixing Bowl", a 3,500 square foot FDA-certified commercial kitchen incubator at Albuquerque's South Valley Economic Development Center.
Capital Outlay Funds
specific to New Mexico food and farming initiatives that assist farmers and food entrepreneurs in developing new and expanding existing markets in New Mexico.


Funding for water projects that support and protect New Mexico's farming and farm economies. 
Green Fire Times - Special Acequia Issue
Pick up a copy of this month's Green Fire Times. The current issue is dedicated to the Acequia Movement and includes contributions by NMAA as well as acequia leaders, researchers, authors, and artists.

NMAA would like to extend a huge thanks to Green Fire Times for giving us a voice through their publication to showcase the resilience, sustainability, and cultural significance of our precious acequias. We appreciated the opportunity to present important acequia issues to a broad audience in New Mexico, with hopes that it builds greater awareness surrounding water, food, and agriculture issues. We hope you enjoy it!
Green Fire Times is a monthly 25,000 copy newsprint publication distributed throughout north central New Mexico and on the web. It has the third largest newspaper circulation in the state.


Farm Bill Agreement Reached

Note: New Mexico Acequia Association was among 400 groups around the nation that advocated for a Full and Fair Farm Bill.  The following statement is from the Rural Coalition.  A statement from NMAA is pending and will be released shortly.  


Rural Coalition, the Community Food and Justice Coalition, and the National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association have worked with our many allies, including over 400 grassroots groups, to seek a full and fair Farm Bill that includes farm, food and nutrition, credit, conservation and rural economic development programs, all infused with equity.  While the deep cuts to SNAP are unconscionable, we thank the dedicated leaders and members of Farm Bill Conference Committee and the Agriculture Committee members for their patient and committed efforts to reach this hard-won agreement after monumental battles in a tough political climate.


Our leaders and members across the country, like almost all other players in the Farm Bill, did not secure all we sought, nor do we support everything that is in the package.  We recognize that in a democracy when so many of us are engaged in a single policy process, no one organization or entity will be universally pleased with the results.  We worked hard and send our gratitude to Conference Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, and ranking members Rep. Collin Peterson and Senator Thad Cochran and the conference committee and committee members and staff for what was achieved over so many months of struggle.  We support the rapid passage of the final package, and commit to work on a future package that continues to work for increased equity and balance. 


We are thankful that you have succeeded in delivering an intact bill that continues to link our food and farm systems, and which retains permanent law and a shared future for all Farm and Nutrition Programs. Without the unified package, there would be no way to assure a future Farm Bill that also maintains and continues to refine critical programs to uplift the most chronically under-served segments of agriculture and our rural and urban communities.


The Farm Bill package at long last restores authority and funding to a critical set of programs - though representing a still too small fraction of overall Farm Bill investments - that support beginning, socially disadvantaged, tribal, women, and veteran farmers and ranchers; rural economic development and job creation; renewable energy; fruit and vegetable production; organic farmers; local and regional food systems; farmers markets; healthy food access; and community food and urban agriculture projects.  We believe these sectors deserve a greater share of investment and have already suffered a lost year of funding. We are also concerned that price and risk and disaster protection for family farmers, including diverse producers, remain woefully inadequate, and the needs for emergency and other nutrition programs are left increasingly unmet.


The following are among highlights of Farm Bill package that advance equity in food systems:


  • The Outreach and Assistance Program for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers, which provides grants and technical assistance through community based organizations and minority-serving institutions, is reauthorized and expanded to include veteran farmers and ranchers.  The direct funding of $10 million annually is only half the level in the last Farm Bill, however, meaning it will be even more difficult to meet critical needs and deliver important results.  The package does add authorization to seek up to $20 million more each year through the annual appropriations process.  Authority for a policy center at an 1890 Land Grant Institutions was added.


  • USDA is now required to provide a receipt for service to all producers seeking services at its office, a long time goal of our organizations and others who have long worked for non-discrimination and equitable access to all USDA Programs.


  • The USDA Office of Tribal Relations has been afforded statutory authority for the first time, to provide structure for direct government-to-government relationships between USDA and Tribal Nations.


  • Authority that allows Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers to collect payments if their base acreage is less than 10 acres was continued in the Commodity Title.


  • A premium waiver of 50% was provided for socially disadvantaged, beginning, and limited resource producers in the noninsured crop assistance program, and a similar premium waiver was authorized in the crop insurance program for beginning and limited resource farmers and ranchers. 


  • The Loans to Purchasers of Highly Fractionated Land Program was made more functional by updating definitions.


  • The Healthy Food Financing Initiative received new authority and $125 million in funding over the term of the Farm Bill, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program Incentives Program and the Local Food Promotion Program were each provided $100 million and the Nutrition Education Program was continued.


  • A Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison was created with additional authority to enter into contracts or cooperative agreements with the research centers of the Agricultural Research Service, institutions of higher education or nonprofit organizations for specific purposes.


  • Authority and Funding (of up to $5 million in appropriations annually) was continued for the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas Program.


  • Borrowers of Youth Loans who are delinquent or receive debt forgiveness in USDA youth loans will no longer be rendered ineligible for federal student loan and grant assistance for education.


  • Eligibility for Farm Service Agency Youth Loans is no longer limited to rural youth.


  • Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program which provides grants to create and support outreach, education, and technical assistance initiatives for beginning farmers and ranchers, is funded at $20 million each year 2014-2018 to remain available until expended. Five percent or more of funds are authorized to be allocated to support limited resource, socially disadvantaged farmers, and farmworkers working to become farmers or ranchers.
  • Statutory authority was provided for the Farm Service Agency microloan program allowing producers to receive up to $35,000 in loans with lower documentation requirements
  • The renamed Value-Added Agricultural Product Market Development Grants funding authority is extended to 2018 at $63,000,000.  The program awards grants to increase or create marketing opportunities for value-added producers, including opportunities for cooperative groups, with priority to small and mid sized and family farms, as well as beginning, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers and ranchers.
  • Authority was added to allow the growing or cultivating of industrial hemp, a traditional product, for research purposed by an institution of higher education or State department of agriculture if the laws of the State permit its growth and cultivation.
  • The Country of Origin Labeling program remains, with a study now mandated and ong-sought protections in the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards were not reversed.

We have supported equity, justice, opportunity, and access across all titles of the Farm Bill.  Therefore, we are thankful that someelements that make the bill less fair and that weaken protections for consumers were removed or weakened, including those restricting SNAP eligibility, as well as those related to the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Act (GIPSA), and the Commerce Clause.


In addition to the SNAP and other cuts, we also share deep disappointments in the final language, including:

  • A simple and well written House Bill provision to allow community irrigation associations to use the Environmental Quality Incentives Programs for improvements to irrigations systems shared by multiple producers was left out of the final bill, making participation in this program very difficult for producers who share water systems.


  • We are still assessing the impact of far-reaching changes in dairy programs on family dairy farms, but regret that price protection for dairy farmers was not provided and language to formulate hearings to understand the impact of these changes on dairy farmers was not included.


  • We are deeply concerned in reductions in support for conservation funding and in overall imbalances in how funds and protections are allocated to diverse and family scale producers, hungry people, other consumers and emerging local food systems, as opposed to processors and distributors who benefited much more.


We will continue our perusal of the full package and we urge Congress and the President to assure it is quickly passed and enacted, so producers and communities can once again access the long delayed programs needed to advance equitable and sustainable food systems in rural and urban communities.


The Rural Coalition, born of the civil rights and anti-poverty rural movements, has worked for 35 years to assure that diverse organizations from all regions, ethnic and racial groups and gender have the opportunity to work together on the issues that affect them all.  The foundation of this work are our members - strong local, regional and national organizations that work to assure the representation and involvement of every sector of this diverse fabric of rural peoples. 


Community Food and Justice Coalition works on movement building, advocacy, and education to encourage policy changes that address inequities and support a food system that is fair, community-driven, and sustainable for our people, economy, and the land.

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2014 Legislative Tracker    

The 2014 legislative session began on January 21st. The NMAA is tracking a number of bills.

Visit http://www.lasacequias.org/legislative-tracker-2014/ for legislation of interest to acequias.

2014 Acequia Calendar  REDUCED PRICE   

Last chance to purchase our 2014 Acequia Calendar.
Now available at reduced price of only $8 (plus S&H)

We only have a few left, so order now! Visit http://www.lasacequias.org/news/2014-acequia-calendar/ to purchase online.

La Cienega Valley Association 

Check out the website for the La Cienega Valley Association.
The LCVA was established in 1995 as a community organization committed to protecting and preserving our communities' acequia culture and agricultural traditions, the foundation and lifeblood of our community.

AgriFuture Educational Institute    

The event will feature: 


* Tours of agribusinesses
* Breakout sessions with industry leaders
* Mentor dinners with industry leaders
* Networking opportunities to connect with others who, like yourself, represent the next wave of farmers, ranchers, and others in American agriculture
May 12th - 14th   
Albuquerque, NM  


Railyard Earth Day Event   


"HOME, Earth Day at the Railyard" event is a large-scale community engagement project envisioned by a growing coalition of local groups involved in education, restoration, conservation, multi-arts, and social and environmental justice. 
Saturday, April 26 
12:00 to 4:00pm
Santa Fe, NM 
For more info visit the HOME website 

Become a Member!

Parciante and Supporter Memberships are $20/year and includes a quarterly newsletter subscription. Membership for an Acequia is $40/year including a newsletter subscription for all four officers.


The NMAA is a charitable, educational non-profit organization that relies on membership contributions and foundations for its general operating expenses. We rely on folks who join as members and to contribute membership dues and donations to support our work. It has never been more important to have a united front to protect our acequias and strengthen our food and agricultural traditions.


Technical Assistance 



The NMAA offers technical assistance on Acequia Governance and USDA programs for landowners. If any of these questions apply to you or your acequia, please submit a Request for Technical Assistance.