Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Eamon Scarbrough
Staff writer 

Organic certification fees to be restructured

 


PORTALES — Proposed additions and revisions to two New Mexico Department of Agriculture ordinances were heard Thursday afternoon, with one receiving resounding support from a New Mexico dairy organization.

Hearing officer Charles Greene presided over the two hearings in the McAllister Room at the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds, the first of which was a reworking of the fee structure for the organic certification program.

The program, which certifies produce as organic through evaluations, had its previous fee structure repealed, according to NMDA Marketing Division Director David Lucero.

“This fee structure is not sufficient for a self-sustaining program,” he said.

The new structure, he said, is based off of the feedback received through several listening sessions across the state in 2016. It charges a new application fee of $750, a $500 renewal fee for previous applicants, and $65 an hour to cover the operating costs of the program.

The costs will pay all overhead expenses and pay for three inspectors, one educator, and a 1/3 time administrative assistant, he said.

The second hearing proposed adding sanitation ratings for milk shippers and evaluations of milk laboratories to NMDA’s pasteurized milk ordinance.

NMDA Dairy Division Director Dustin Cox said the purpose of the proposed changes is “to develop a more uniform sanitation program.”

“Together, with the pasteurized milk ordinance, they create a cohesive system for the protection of milk and public health,” he said.

Beverly Idsinga, executive director of Dairy Producers of New Mexico, expressed the support of her organization for the additions.

“I believe our producers here in New Mexico produce some of the best and healthiest milk products out of anywhere in the nation and the world, and that’s in part due to Dustin and his team at NMDA,” she said.

After holding hearings across the state, the proposals will be taken before the New Mexico State University Board of Regents to be considered for adoption.

 

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