Agriculture and Stock Raising

THE process by which industry has driven agriculture into the
background in other States has been to some extent reversed in
New Mexico.

Farming has been carried on for centuries, first by the Pueblo
Indians who are still farmers primarily; after 1598 by their conquerors,
the Spanish colonists; and later by the descendants of the colonists,
among whom farming and stock raising have always been of major eco-
nomic importance. Although the farms were small, the herds of sheep
and cattle were large, owing to the once unlimited free grazing area.

With the development of agricultural areas through reclamation and
irrigation projects, farming in recent years has supplemented the already
important industry of stock raising until their combined product ex-
ceeds in value the output of the State's other industries. The growth
of dry farming (agriculture wholly dependent upon rainfall) has oc-
curred chiefly in the northeastern and eastern portions of the State,
where the average rainfall is 15.5 inches. Irrigation methods are used
in the Rio Grande, Pecos, Mimbres, Gila, and San Juan River valleys
and wherever water can be obtained from small streams. Artesian and
pumping wells are used as additional sources, and such large storage
reservoirs as those impounded by Elephant Butte, Santa Cruz, and El
Vado dams.

There are in the State 41,369 farms, containing 34,397,205 acres
of land, valued in 1937 at $170,150,410. Corn and wheat are the
principal crops, the former (dating from pre-Columbian times) being
the main crop of the Pueblo Indians. Chili (peppers) and frijoles
(beans) are raised extensively by the small farmers of the central and
northern plateaus. Cotton growing, first practiced by the Indians along
the lower Rio Grande and then abandoned, is being revived in the south-
ern part of the State; cotton production has already brought about a
slight population shift, the native Spanish-American people having been
displaced by imported Negro cotton pickers. Grains, sorghums, po-
tatoes, legumes, and fruits are also grown in quantity.

An interesting agricultural development is the raising of sugar-beet
seed in commercial quantities in the southern part of the State. Ex-
periments carried on by the New Mexico College of Agriculture and
Mechanic Arts have demonstrated that beet seed can be produced here