New Mexico

Report suggests big changes for ag in Upper Rio Grande River basin

Taking more farmland out of production and increasing irrigation efficiency on farms were two of the management options that could boost water flow in parts of the parched Rio Grande, according to the first report card for the Upper Rio Grande River basin, which was released Thursday.

More than 47 million birds lost to avian influenza

Bird flu was discovered in a backyard flock in the Albuquerque area, making New Mexico the 42nd state where the viral disease has been confirmed this year, said the Agriculture Department on Thursday.

Ancient Southwest farming cultures faced extreme drought. Now it’s back.

Centuries ago, the Zuni people in the arid Southwest region of the United States developed a sophisticated farming culture, channeling water towards crops and breeding climate resilient seeds, reports Tim Folger, in FERN's latest story, produced with The Weather Channel. But that culture was also likely wiped out by a rare 50-year megadrought that may now be underway again in the West. (No paywall)

Climate and culture change threaten New Mexico’s ancient irrigation canals

For hundreds of years, a network of earthen canals that ribbon through New Mexico have been central to a thriving small-farm scene and a communal way of life. But those canals, called acequias, and the way of life they support, are being pushed to the brink by a changing climate, a development boom, and the imperatives of the modern economy, says Alexis Adams in FERN's latest story, published with The Weather Channel. (No paywall)

Santa Fe votes today on soda tax

Voters in Santa Fe, New Mexico, decide today whether to adopt a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages — not just on sodas, but on sweetened sports drinks like Gatorade, lemonades and caffeinated energy drinks, among others, says U.S. News & World Report. Artificially sweetened drinks, infant formula, chocolate milk, pure fruit juices, and weight-loss drinks like Ensure would be exempted.

Soda tax clears two hurdles in Santa Fe, set for public hearing

The city council in Santa Fe, NM, scheduled a public hearing for March 8 on Mayor Javier Gonzales' proposal to put a 2-cent-an-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to generate money for early childhood education, says the New Mexican newspaper. The council agreed unanimously to call the public hearing after an advisory committee voted, 6-1, in favor of the soda tax.

Rio Grande water fight appears headed to Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to finally hear a lawsuit between Texas and New Mexico over water rights to the Rio Grande, says The Texas Tribune. Three years ago, the Lone Star state alleged that New Mexico farmers were taking more than their fair share of the river’s water. Now a court-appointed special master, Gregory Grismal, has released a 273-page report recommending that the court ignore New Mexico’s request to drop the suit.

Looking for a mechanical hired hand for chile harvest

With plantings on the decline and fewer farmworkers available, two mechanical harvesters are being tested on the chile pepper crop in New Mexico, says the Associated Press.

So far, wildfire season is not as bad as usual

The government says wildfires have burned nearly 700,000 acres this year. That's three times the acreage at this point in 2013 but 40 percent less than the 10-year average for the first five months of the year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. It lists 21,530 fires since Jan 1. The average is 26,667 fires.