Pandemic impacts New Mexico chile farmers | KOB 4

Pandemic impacts New Mexico chile farmers

Brett Luna
Created: May 04, 2020 06:28 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Farmers across the state are working hard to get chile crops ready for the season. With coronavirus forcing many workers into unemployment, farmers said it’s hitting their industry too.

"We're gifted. God gifted the farmer. I know he did. Just as sure as he did the hands of the surgeon, and  I can't do that work and he can't do my work, but the difference is I don't go run over there and tell him how to set up his operating room,” said Glen Duggins, a chile farmer.

Farming is already tough work but adding coronavirus to the mix and the rules and regulations that have come along with it have made it especially tough for the farmer.

"We know farmers are such a small part of the population. We now have dictated to us policies and stuff by people that are nonfarmers and it effects us,” Duggins said.

"We pride ourselves on our chile. We're known from our chile and we're proud of it and it's a piece of New Mexico that's gonna be gone if we don't wake up,” he added.

Duggins said it’s now more beneficial for some to not work at all than spend the day in the sun doing farm work.

One reason why workers are so important for chile farming is so they can help remove the diseased chile plants. Chile is susceptible to different types of diseases.

"It takes a human eye and a human hand to come and cut those diseased plants out and leave the healthy strong ones,” Duggins said.

A few months from now, all the chile will be picked by hand. Duggins said chile picking is honest work and that the pay is not bad either.

“They get paid per sack and a good man that's not got any lazy in him and a good field of chile, they can make $200 to $300 a day,” Duggins said.

If you’re up for work and want a job, Duggins has some advice:

"Go see your local farmers and I bet you some of you can get a job,” he said.

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