NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Agriculture production in New Mexico saw a slight increase in 2021, according to the recently announced 2021 New Mexico Agricultural Statistics bulletin.

“It was a challenging year for those in agriculture, but we’ve got tough producers,” said Secretary of Agriculture for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture Jeff Witte.

Between a drought, inflation, and a worldwide pandemic, New Mexico farmers and ranchers in 2021 were paying over 6% more in expenses to grow crops and take care of their livestock. That comes out to $2.06 billion spent on expenses including feed, equipment, fuel, and maintenance.

“The largest of that was feed livestock, feed cost. That’s a direct result of the drought,” said Witte.

Still, the total value of agricultural production rose 5% in 2021 from 2020, reaching $3.17 billion.

Witte added, “A lot of that was attributed to dairy production, beef production, pecans, and of course our vegetable crops. Our famous chile crop was also up in value that year as well.”

For 2021, New Mexico lead the nation in chile production and were second in pecan production. Prices and value were up for both crops, but that’s due to the amount grown being down. Chile production was down 22%, and pecans were down 100,000 pounds.

Witte mentioned other contributors to the state’s value included dairy production. He said New Mexico is a top 10 dairy state in the nation. Dairy products exports were up from $210 million in 2020 to almost $230 million in 2021. He added the beef sector in 2021 was also up.

“Some of the increases in 2021 was actually the result of the continued drought because more producers were selling off some of their herds.”

Overall, the department said the data is a good sign for the state.

“These numbers indicate that New Mexico still has a strong and vibrant agriculture sector, and it cuts across the entire state. It’s really important in our rural areas, but it’s just as important even in our urban settings as well,” said Witte.

New Mexico is third in the nation for onion production, ninth for milk production, and sixteenth in cattle and calves.

Story continues below:

The New Mexico Chile Association said production for 2022 is declining due to labor and water shortages. They said they are currently feeling the shortage of red chile due to bad weather. They said this will lead to an increase in prices.