J. Newton McCarty named new VC agricultural agent


Valencia County’s new agriculture extension agent, J. Newton McCarty, took his position in the Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service office last month.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: J. Newton McCarty is the new Valencia County Cooperative Extension agriculture agent, filling the position of former agent, Kyle Tator. McCarty is eager to hear from local producers to learn what he can do for them.

McCarty said he is eager to visit with local farmers and find out how he can best help them with economic development, pest and weed control, and other needs.

“What I’m looking for is to get as much input as I can from the community as to their needs, and (the) programs they see would benefit them the most,” McCarty said.

The 6-foot-2 South Valley native has been managing a 250,000-acre cow/calf operation for Acoma Pueblo the past two years.

He returned to school a few years ago to earn his master’s degree in agriculture extension education, graduating from New Mexico State University last May.

“It feels very comfortable to be here,” he said. “When I was working on my master’s, I spent about three months doing an internship one summer here at this office, so I got to meet a lot of the community members.”

He worked closely with former extension agent Kyle Tator on several programs Tator had implemented. McCarty plans to get them going again, he said.

Some include forage workshops, applicator’s training for commercial pest and weed control, hoop house building demonstrations for people who want to build their own greenhouses, the chicken tractor program for mobile chicken coops, and AI school for producers.

One of Tator’s past initiatives was a Valencia County produce sorting facility. He and another agent wrote a grant about a year ago to get funding for a feasibility study.

“What they found is, there’s a lot of co-ops,” McCarty said. “La Montanita Co-op really already has some of that in place. I think it’s become more of a matter of making those connections between producers and available markets, and the co-ops that are seeking out those local foods. It kind of transitioned to that.”

The growing population of people who want to know where their food is coming from are a huge benefit to local farmers, because more people are looking to buy food locally, McCarty said.

“It’s a great opportunity for producers, because that’s never been the case — nobody’s ever really cared where their product came from,” he said. “Now, they have that opportunity to make those personal connections with the consumer.”

Valencia County’s large number of small farms particularly stand to benefit, and the new extension agent wants to assist them in making direct connections with consumers, local food co-ops and restaurants in order to make a livable income from what they produce.

“The farmers markets are taking off, the farm-to-school program, restaurants buying directly from producers, and branded beef programs are becoming more popular,” he said.

McCarty has been a “backyard farmer” all his life. His mother, Joan, always kept a garden, and the family raised their own meat and poultry.

He earned his business degree from Western New Mexico University, then worked in the family food business, Mac’s Steak in the Rough, founded by his grandfather back in the 1950s, McCarty said.

After 20 years in business, he wanted to work in agriculture where he gets his greatest enjoyment.

“My interest is to serve the community the best I can in whatever their needs are,” he said. “My hope and desire is to really help the community producers, farmers, gardeners in any way I can with the resources available through the university, their specialists and research (work).”

McCarty and his wife, Amy, have three children, Lilly, 14, Karina, 12, and Rhett, 10.

Amy is an assistant principle at Annunciation Catholic School in Albuquerque, where their children go to school.

The family raises livestock, and all three of the kids are involved in 4-H.

The family has been living in the South Valley, but recently moved to Belen.

McCarty has an open door policy, and can be reached at the Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service office at 404 Courthouse Road in Los Lunas, by phone, 565-3002, or email, jnewton@nmsu.edu.

The website is www.valenciaextension.nmsu.edu.

-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.