Socorro County commissioners shake hands with local dairy farmers after the Com￾mission declares March Dairy Month.
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain photos


March is Dairy Month in Socorro County.

The Socorro County Commissioners proclaimed March Dairy Month last week to recognize “that the dairy industry is an essential to the economy of the County of Socorro and that dairy products protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of not only Socorro County but of the United States,” according to the official proclamation.

Seven dairy farms in the county produce 20 million pounds of milk annually.

Holly Woelber has been a dairy farmer in Socorro County for more than 40 years. She works alongside her husband and son, and she was in attendance when the proclamation was passed.

“It’s so nice to be recognized,” she said. “Ag plays a role in the background of all industry and economic development, but to be recognized by the county commissioners and the state representative and our congresswoman is so heartwarming.”

Dairy farming is a challenging industry, but offers a great life, said Woelber.

“We’re fortunate that our son is in business with us and our grandkids live down the road and it’s so wonderful to see them be able to grow up on the farm and the dairy and be with the animals.”

The dairy industry has been on the decline, said County Extension Agent Emily Bruton.

State Representative Gail Armstrong voices her support for the Dairy Month proclamation during a county Commission meeting.

“There’s a lot of reasons that go into it. It just gets harder and harder by the year for them to stay open, with commodity prices and milk prices and all of the things that ag industry as a whole is facing, but it hits the dairy producers really hard.”

Socorro County dairy farmers regularly export their product internationally, said Dustin Cox, Director of the Department of Dairy Division with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture.

“I want to thank the producers themselves that are here in attendance and that have contributed to this family farming organization and industry that means a lot to our state,” said Cox. “They feed the world. They produce a wholesome, nutritious food that literally goes worldwide. I sign export documents almost daily of products that go out of our country that come from these family farms.”

State Representative Gail Armstrong also came to show her support.

“I don’t know a lot about dairy farming, the thing I do know is that it is hard work and I also know that it is a great way to raise a family and it is a great tradition here in New Mexico,” said Armstrong.

Congresswoman Yvette Herrell sent a letter of support to be read, in which she pledged to do everything she can to ensure the dairy industry thrives.

“As our population increases, the demand for dairy products does as well. Without hard working dairy farmers like the ones in Socorro County, it would be extraordinarily difficult to maintain a consistent supply of these products,” the letter read.

County Commissioner Glen Duggins, who is himself a farmer, said he often does business with the dairy farmers in Socorro County.

“These people are honest people. These people, in five minutes you can make a deal, and I know attorney Nance can write some pretty good legal papers, but I’ll tell you what, you can’t write a paper better than these peoples’ word,” said Duggins.

The dairy farmers were presented with plaques made by the Socorro High School FFA Chapter.

Cathy Cook, Editor, El Defensor Chieftain