Local farmer doubtful of Inflation Reduction Act’s impact

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A large portion of the Inflation Reduction Act will be going to New Mexico’s agriculture industry.

Nearly $20 billion will be injected over 10 years into federal programs, which will, in turn, go to farmers and producers. 

A big chunk of the money will go towards what’s called “Climate Smart Practices.” Basically, investing in farming methods meant to conserve valuable resources, including water. 

But not everyone buys it. A local farmer says these provisions are all smoke and mirrors.

“It just seemed like the more you farm, the more you lose, and we don’t have the labor to support it anymore,” said Glen Duggins. 

Duggins used to be known as the “chile man.” That’s until he called it quits when he couldn’t keep up with the rising costs to produce the crop. 

Duggins says he’s taking about a $100,000 hit each year. His 300-acre farm in Socorro is now filled with alfalfa and corn.

Under Biden’s so-called climate bill, the biggest chunk of money will go towards farming practices like cover crops. Those are plants primarily used to keep soil and fertilizer in place over the winter. 

But Duggins says it would do anything but save him money.

“Cover crops are not the miracle. The non-farmers are saying that it is, it’s still a crop, you still have to irrigate it. You take care of it the same as any other crop,” said Duggins. 

The reason farmers are part of Biden’s climate bill? The Biden administration says farming practices can contribute to climate change, and farmers have a role to play in finding a solution.

Duggins feels the administration paints farmers in a bad light.

“How did farming ever get to be a bad thing? It just blows my mind, we are so backward,” he said. 

Something he’d like to see available for farmers that isn’t included in the bill? Cement ditches.

“Cement ditches is probably the best way for this valley to save water,” Duggins said. 

They’re meant to efficiently transport water to irrigate crops — preventing water from seeping into the ground through a dirt ditch. 

Duggins says it would make sure 100% of the water allocated to farmers is going to their crops.

“You should be thankful for farmers, we gamble everything we have on a handful of seed that’s going to get to your table, hopefully,” said Duggins.