Ben Etcheverry is Putting Down Roots

If you’ve ever driven through Deming, New Mexico, you might only see the town, and not notice the fields and fields of crops. The little town is home to one of the biggest chile processing facilities in the state. Chile is a very important part of the economy of Luna County. This industry relies on the knowledge of agriculture experts to keep the crops in good health. One of those experts is Ben Etcheverry.

An early morning breaks over the mountains and Ben is already headed to the fields. The chile growing season in the Deming area is hot. It’s best to get work done early while the temperatures are cooler. All in all, you certainly can’t beat the view of the mesa, the mountains, and the New Mexico skies. Let’s see what Ben has to say about what inspired him to get into agriculture and what advice he has for young people entering the industry!

NMDA: What inspired you to get involved in agriculture?

Ben: It was working for Dr. Bosland at the teaching garden down in the NMSU greenhouses. He had met my dad one day and he told my dad, “He’s got a really good eye and if I’d had him for four years I could have turned him into something really great”. That really stuck with me and made me want to strive harder in agriculture.

NMDA: What’s your typical day like on the farm?

Ben: I work for a green chile processor, Mizkan Americas, and I’m an ag operations specialist. I visit a lot of fields, do a lot of inspecting at the field level looking for disease, insect pressure- more of a consultant’s role. So my day starts usually about five or six o’clock in the morning. I get a call and see where I need to go investigate any sort of issue. I get up and grab a cup of coffee. I get to watch the sun rise from the truck as I’m headed towards the field.

NMDA: What are your long term goals in agriculture?

Ben: My long term goals in agriculture are to keep consulting and improving my knowledge. I want to be able to dispense the knowledge that I find through consulting and being exposed to many crops, especially chile. I want to help keep that cultural and tribal knowledge going as we grow farmers for future generations. Later in my career, I can help young farmers grow with confidence and not make the same mistakes that others have made.

NMDA: So what advice do you have for a young person or young people who want to get involved in agriculture?

Ben: Get your feet wet. Just do it. If you love it, you’ll love every minute of it. If you hate it, you’ll hate every minute of it. If you love it you’ll look back on the bad times, laugh about them, and tell stories to your friends sitting around a table at night. It’s not a glamourous job. There’s lots of dirt. Many times you go home so dirty you can’t stand yourself, but in the end you’ll really love it.

NMDA: If you were to have five minutes with an influential policy maker either at the state or federal level what would you like to discuss with them and why?

Ben: I would like to discuss how important food is to us and the growing pressures we see in this industry as far as regulation, food safety, misinformation that’s spreading, and what we can do to keep this misinformation from becoming the truth before it becomes a problem.

Picture of Ben Etcheverry examining a chile pod in a field of chile. The Organ Mountains and storm clouds are on the horizon in the background.

Photo Credit: Matt Robinson

We know we’ll be seeing big things out of Ben in the coming years!

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