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How the AGUA Project is reshaping the farm

Helping Farmers Nationwide

National Latino Farmers and Ranchers plays a pivotal role in the Agricultural Gains Upskill All project (AGUA Project), which aims to enhance access to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS) technical assistance services for historically underserved Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities (BIPOC), with a specific focus on Latino farmers and ranchers.

NLFR's involvement centers on providing education in farm management, including the creation and implementation of farm-level Conservation Plans and the adoption of water conservation practices and technologies.



People trained by NLFR on the AGUA Project



Young Agricultural Leaders gained natural resources management knowledge


Demonstration sites added to the project for water conservation practices

NLFR is Working with Local Communities on Water Sustainability

NLFR is working with a bilingual team to develop culturally responsive outreach initiatives to achieve these goals. This team has been systematically engaging Latino farming communities in designated Pilot Areas (e.g., Valencia, Bernalillo, and Taos, New Mexico) through talks, workshops, and Farm Demonstration Sites. These engagements are addressing critical water conservation needs during a time of historic drought.

Training Days at the Demonstration Sites offer hands-on experience with water conservation practices and technologies, while scheduled visits to local NRCS offices facilitate the creation of customized Conservation Plans for each participating farm.

The AGUA project is making a significant impact on water conservation practices among farmers and ranchers in the Pilot Areas. NLFR's initial surveys with participating farmers are establishing benchmarks and tracking engagement and progress toward conservation goals. The immediate benefits of Project AGUA are evident in the improved water conservation practices.

NLFR is using these insights to refine its 'Outreach and Extension Facilitation' model, with the aim of replicating AGUA on a larger scale. This replication is not just a plan, it's a reality that is enabling NRCS and USDA agencies to better connect with and serve underfunded farms not only in New Mexico but across the nation, ultimately enhancing the sustainability and success of Latino farmers and ranchers.


Training and Education:


In the context of historic drought and climate change impacting water resources for NM farmers, NLFR, through Project AGUA, is offering hands-on Training Days at new Farm Demonstration Sites (e.g. Wagner Farms and Donald Martinez Jr. Farm). These sessions focus on water conservation practices and technologies specifically for Latino farmers and ranchers.

Community Connections:


NLFR’s Field Team, which is well-connected with BIPOC underserved communities, particularly Latino and African American farmers and ranchers, is developing partnerships with local USDA/NRCS offices. The Field Team is also engaging in state extension services and local community groups to identify ‘natural leaders’ for the project.

Awareness and Engagement:


NLFR is organizing culturally attuned talks and workshops to heighten awareness of natural resource issues, particularly water conservation. These events, promoted through radio PSAs and in-person events, engage producers in practices and technologies aimed at sustainability.

Internship Program:


NLFR is funding internships for students and young professionals to gain experience in Natural Resources Management at the farm level. Interns are playing active leadership roles in implementing Training Days, working with minority farming communities, producing case studies, and immersing themselves in water conservation practices and technologies.

Access to NRCS Services:


Through language- and culturally-responsive efforts, NLFR is facilitating access to NRCS services. This involves producing farm-level Conservation Plans in collaboration with the AGUA Coordinator, Technical Field Staff, farmers, and NRCS staff.

Leadership Development:


Project AGUA is developing a team of emerging young leaders who are gaining knowledge in natural resources management and agricultural farming/ranching.

Implementation of Conservation Plans:


For farms with NRCS-designed Conservation Plans, the NLFR Project Team is working with NRCS to ensure these plans are effective tools for managing natural resources on the farms.

Project Evaluation:


The project evaluation focuses on measuring metrics, equipment utilization, training impact, project implementation, and overall progress toward goals and objectives.

Data Collection and Case Studies:


The Project Field Team is gathering data on farm-level results and creating case studies with financial analysis. These efforts aim to advocate for the adoption of ‘Climate Smart Agricultural’ practices. Findings are shared at talks, special events, and Training Days.