Forage Facts

Image of economic impacts of forages in New Mexico via alfalfa plant graphic

Forages contribute a significant amount to New Mexico's economy through job creation and food production in addition to providing environmental benefits such as soil protection and improvement of wildlife habitat.

Hay acreage remains fairly constant from one year to the next and the value of New Mexico's hay per ton is usually higher than the national average. Forage crops are not only grown as stored feeds (hay and silage), they also are used for pastures for livestock that are frequently visited by big game, migratory birds, and other wildlife.

Impact of New Mexico Agriculture and Food Processing Industries *

  • Agriculture and food processing industries account for:

    • $10.6 billion in total output
      • $6.8 billion in direct sales
      • $3.8 billion in value-added processing/distribution, marketing, financing, supporting services
    • 12.3% of New Mexico's gross state product (GSP).
    • 13.1% of New Mexico's gross domestic product (GDP).
    • Over 50,000 jobs
  • Agriculture alone accounts for:

    • $6.0 billion in total output
    • Ranks 3rd in total statewide impact (behind Government Education & Scientific Research & Development Services)
    • 42,000 jobs
  • New Mexico's top agricultural commodities:

    • Cattle and calves: $1.75 billion
    • Dairy products: $1.41 billion
    • All hay: $330 million
      • Alfalfa hay $282 million (#1 cash field crop in NM)
      • Other hay $48 million
    • Pecans: $111 million
    • Chile: $65 million
    • Onions: $56 million
  • New Mexico has over 24,000 farms and ranches located on 44 million acres.
  • Most of these businesses are family operated.

*Estimates based on 2012 data as reported by Diemer et al., 2014. References:

New Mexico Forage Statistics

Source: 2014 State Agriculture Overview (NASS-NM)

Crop No. of Acres* Ave. Yield Total Prod. Value of Production Tons/AcTonsDollarsAll Hay305,0003.91,198,000291,114,000Wheat400,000------Sorghum Silage 33,000 13.0** 429,000 17,160,000 Table comparing number of acres, average yield, total productivity, and value of production for all hay, alfalfa hay, wheat, corn silage, and sorghum silage

Forage Stats
*Harvested acres for all except wheat (planted acres). The majority of wheat acres are used as either dual-purpose (grazing + grain/silage/hay) or grazed out.
**Corn and sorghum silage yields are presented as wet tons (35% dry matter).
Alfalfa Hay 210,000 4.8 1,008,000 255,024,000
Corn Silage 73,000 26.0** 1,898,000 85,410,000
Image of chart showing New Mexico hay acres and prices received from 2010 to 2014


Diemer, J., T. Crawford, and M. Patrick. 2014. Agriculture’s contribution to New Mexico’s Economy. NM Coop. Ext. Serv. Pub. Circular 675. Las Cruces, NM. December, 2014.

USDA-NASS. 2014. New Mexico Agricultural Statistics. Visit the USDA-NASS Website.