New Mexico green chile farmer calls it quits

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SOCORRO COUNTY, N.M. – A local chile farmer is calling it quits saying there are too many obstacles to keep it going. 

You may not know him by name, but you probably know his product. 

“You know, every kid has a dream, I had one, and I just couldn’t leave it alone,” said Glen Duggins. 

Glen Duggins has been farming for almost 40 years and like any New Mexican he’s a certified chile lover.

“I think you’re born a farmer, I don’t think everybody can be. I went into chile and we doubled, and we doubled, and we doubled, and we doubled to where we got that truck, we even couldn’t haul it in the truck,” said Duggins. 

But sometimes love can’t carry you through the roller coaster of farming.

“Everybody’s just having such a good time and enjoying the food in the fellowship at the table, and to know how hard and how- the struggles that we go through. Excuse me, the struggles that we go through, it’s all worth it,” Duggins said. 

Duggins says chile farming has been in his heart even though his brain has been telling him different.

“It just came down to ‘I cannot.’ I’ve been able to cover the holes up to now, and I’m going to cover it, and it’ll be good. But I can’t have another year like last year,” said Duggins. 

He says he may have fields of chile to harvest but no one to pick it.

“So those bales, those are the last chili that we have. But those empty bales, those strapped bales are 1,000 sacks in every bale. I have like 13,000 that never got filled, and went ‘Oh man, we pay double the price it’s not the pay, nobody wants to work,’” said Duggins said. 

Duggins also says state policies have hindered farmers instead of helping them.

“They’re not disconnected, they’re completely unplugged,” said Duggins. “We have non-farmers making policy for the farmers.”

And so with a heavy heart, he says he’s hanging up the ristra.

“And you know when you struggle, something when you have a member of your family that has died, it’s so heartbreaking. But when it’s over, when the funeral passes, somehow it gives you closure and a little peace, and that’s where I’m at,” he said.

But he’s a farmer through and through.

“Your cows die, your plants die you got here, it’ll be better next year. Just get me some more seed,” said Duggins. 

And even though he’s bowing out, he hopes people will support his neighboring farms.

“And I do wish the best for the remaining farmers of New Mexico, whatever you’re in, I wish you the best,” he said. 

Forever an optimist, Duggins says he’ll be OK.

On Monday, Sen. Ben Ray Lujan is set to meet with several of the state’s agricultural groups to discuss the future of farming.

The focus will center on the impact of land management, San Juan food banks, and extending critical programs in the 2023 farm bill.