Farmers and property owners in rural New Mexico may have an easier time obtaining federal funding for upcoming maintenance and conservation projects.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue, appearing before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, has said that he will direct his agency to gather local input information as a prerequisite for that funding.
That input would likely come through public comment periods, meetings, and listening sessions.
Specifically, the funding would go to land grant communities and irrigation systems established more than 200 years ago when New Mexico was a Spanish colony.
As advocated by New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, a provision of last year’s sweeping Farm Bill makes those communities and irrigation systems eligible for funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
In his testimony, Purdue noted that the latest Department of Agriculture budget includes increased funding for public-private partnerships to build rural broadband infrastructure, affordable housing, and health service facilities.
That budget additionally includes $5.5 billion in rural electric improvement loans as well as $1.7 billion for the upgrading of rural water and wastewater facilities.
By Garry Boulard
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