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New ag buildings set to open this spring

Construction of four new buildings continues in the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, two of which are expected to be unveiled in April. The four buildings include a feed milling and processing facility, a food science center, a biomedical research building and a New Mexico Department of Agriculture lab and food security facility. The completion of these buildings will give students access to top-of-the-line research facilities and more efficient ways to house their equipment. 

The NMDA lab and food security facility, located at the corner of Knox Street and Gregg Street, remains under construction Wednesday, Feb.15, 2023. (Photo by Juliana Trujillo/Kokopelli)

NMSU is unique in that it is one of the only land-grant universities in the nation that houses most of its agricultural facilities and animals on its main campus. This gives students unique access to facilities and assists in their educational development. Additionally, NMSU has the largest land mass of any land-grant institution in the nation with 114,000 acres across the state. 

The first two buildings that are set to be finished are the Food Science Learning and Safety Center and the new feed mill. These buildings, along with the new biomedical research building, are part of phase one of NMSU’s Agricultural Modernization and Educational Facilities project.

Construction of phase two includes the renovation and expansion of the existing NMDA lab and food security facility. A proposed third phase calls for renovation or replacement of the original NMDA administrative office building on Espina Street. The total cost of the first two phases of the project is approximately $43 million. NMSU’s main sources of funding for these projects are general obligation bonds, which get voted on every two years. 

University architect Heather Watenpaugh explained how the new buildings will directly benefit students and the larger agriculture industry in New Mexico.

“These buildings, and how the students are being trained to do this work, can really help them have a good salary coming out of school,” Watenpaugh said. “[These buildings] go to training students which goes to economic development, which allows small ranches and farms in the state of New Mexico to survive.” 

Unfortunately, COVID-19 caused several complications including an increase in material and labor costs, which has delayed the opening of these buildings. However, university officials are looking forward to hosting a large-scale ribbon-cutting ceremony in connection with National Agricultural Day, which occurs in late March. 

The feed milling and processing facility enters its final construction stages Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. The building is located at the corner of Stewart Street and Knox Street on the NMSU main campus in Las Cruces. (Photo by Juliana Trujillo/Kokopelli)

These state of-the-art facilities will provide hands-on experiential learning, which will help students to become more involved with the industry while remaining connected to the main campus.

“There’s something about when the wind blows and you can kind of smell the different smells from the west end of campus,” Watenpaugh stated. “We all need to appreciate that because most schools have moved [their animals] miles and miles from the center campus. So our ag students are at the center of campus and we get to celebrate that they’re right here with us as part of the learning.” 

New Mexico is heavily dependent on agriculture as it provides economic development and food production. These new modernization projects will help NMSU keep up with industry demands. Chadelle Robinson, a professor in the college of ACES, explained that the new facilities will create exciting new opportunities for students. 

“[The new buildings] will provide our students with state-of-the-art technology and opportunities to develop a high-level skill set for the animal protein industries, feed industries and overall agricultural supply chain,” Robinson stated. 

Check out the Ag Modernization Construction webcam for a live view of the new building sites. 

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