The 2023 legislative session is in full swing in New Mexico! Listed below are several opportunities to advocate for programs and initiatives that incentivize soil health in our state—namely the Healthy Soil Program under the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA).
The Healthy Soil Program was enacted in 2018 in an unprecedented grassroots effort. It provides voluntary incentives to farmers and ranchers to implement management principles that result in greater soil health and associated co-benefits. To learn more about NMDA’s Healthy Soil Program, visit the official Healthy Soil Program website.
The NM Healthy Soil Working Group is asking for expanded resources for the Healthy Soil Program as demand for farmer grants continue to exceed available funds. We encourage you to reach out to the Senate Finance Committee and House Appropriations Committee (now chaired by Nathan Small, a great soil health champion who introduced the Healthy Soil Act)!
Contact committee members to express your support for the Healthy Soil Program by following the links provided below and scroll down to the list of members. Committee hearings will be held in person at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe, but you can also go to the webcast link to watch hearings online.
(1) Support the Governor’s Food Initiative which includes a one-time allocation (FY 2024) of $1 million for NMDA’s Healthy Soil Program;
(2) Support the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund, which includes $1.35 million in recurring funding for NMDA’s Healthy Soil Program;
(3) Make funding for the Healthy Soil Program permanent by creating recurring high level funding for the program in NMDA’s budget.
→ Find more information on each initiative or budget request below.
The Governor’s Food Initiative
The Governor’s Food Initiative (formerly the Food, Farm and Hunger Initiative) has a strong soil health focus, asking for $1M of funding for the Healthy Soil Program in FY24. It also includes many other programs that support New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers.
NM Healthy Soil is proud to participate in the inter-agency, cross-sector work of the Food Initiative with the following priorities for the 2023 legislative session: 1) pass SB4, Healthy Universal School Meals, to protect the right of every child to healthy, no-cost meals while at school, 2) secure more than $75 million in general and capital funds to invest in critical food and agriculture programs statewide.
→ Read the factsheet: FOOD INITIATIVE BUDGET PRIORITIES
The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund
The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund (formerly the Conservation Trust Fund) is a bipartisan bill (SB9) introduced by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. The fund would be a historic investment in land and water conservation programs that will leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money for all 33 counties and tribal communities in New Mexico.
The proposed fund includes an allocation of $1.35 million in recurring funding for NMDA’s Healthy Soil Program as well as funding for the Soil & Water Conservation Districts and the Outdoor Equity Fund, to name just a few of the critical conservation programs that would be supported in perpetuity by the creation of this fund.
→ Read the fact sheet: The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund
The Healthy Soil Program is currently included in NMDA’s budget, but it’s only funded on an annual basis. This means that soil health advocates have to return to the legislature year after year to ask for funding to be maintained. We are therefore requesting for Healthy Soil Program funding to be made permanent at the current amount of $1.35 million or higher.