Over the past year I have had the privilege of getting to know Jay Hill – a local farmer. He firmly believes that in his operation growth is good, but bigger is not always better. He enjoys a more manageable size because he feels he can focus more on what he grows. Jay informs me that profitability has increased due to the micromanagement of crops. He raises pecans, lettuce, onions, alfalfa, wheat, corn and pinto beans and during the summer they are the largest shipper of fresh onions. During the summer he also works for Shiloh, a sales company from 8 am to 3 pm handling sales and transportation.
His farm dog, a yellow lab named Sam is incredibly loyal and accompanies Jay everywhere, he’s a “go anywhere” dog. Sam spends much of his time in the cab of the tractor and is never very far away from his dad.
Growing up his family didn’t derive their income from agriculture. His father was a recruiter for a technical school though they did have a 20 acre hobby farm. After his father retired his father started running a ranch with 125 head of cattle. Though he always knew he wanted to farm he didn’t have the opportunity until he turned 18. In 2006 the Hill family farmed 2300 acres in Lordsburg and he ran it for two years. In 2008 they were bought out by a local dairy. This is when he came home to Las Cruces and began farming 350 acres. His operation has now grown to between 600 and 700 acres. He’s married to Katie Hill. He describes her growing ability as a “brown thumb” turned green. He says she truly went from “high heels to tractor wheels” was born and raised in the city and had no interest in agriculture or intention of marrying a farmer. They have been married for one year.His operation truly is a family farm, he gets help from his brother, nephew, cousin and his father (who helps him oversee their it.)
Jay Hill is also one of the United States Farmers and Rancher’s Alliance “Faces of Farming and Ranching”. He is incredibly excited to see where this journey continues to take him and looks forward to the upcoming year. He has had many opportunities to learn more about advocating for agriculture and is excited to grow New Mexico Youth Farmers & Ranchers. Jay continues to engage consumers about where their food comes from and has continued to incorporate social media into his daily farming operations.
Farmers are fantastic. They dedicate their lives to providing safe and wholesome food for our tables. They may work twelve hour days and brave the market and the weather and it is business as usual. They are often caked in the dust of the earth and the smell of animals in the dusky hours as they return home to their families (and a lot of oil & grease too!). They are constantly dedicated as stewards of the land to raising crops and animals to the best of their ability in ways that are most sustainable. They do not take days off as living things require constant attention. They truly love what they do and find beauty in the little blessings and the beautiful ways that God has created the place where they get to do their work. All farmers are fantastic – but Jay Hill is my favorite. Jay Hill is my favorite farmer because as part of his philosophy he welcomes skeptics and critics about food production and invites them to speak with him and see his operation. He is my favorite farmer because he is constantly looking to pay – it – forward throughout his community through service to others. He is my favorite farmer because he is there as a resource whenever I have questions about how to share agriculture’s story. He is my favorite farmer because of the fantastic photographs he shares on Instagram about his day. He agrees his operation is unique stating “Unlike most farm[er]s I’m not a generational farmer. Nothing is inherited and this is a driving factor. I want to be the best farmer I can be”. He is my favorite farmer because he is Jay Hill and as much as he’s an awesome farmer – he’s also an awesome person.
Thanks for reading!