Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Farmers fight to preserve New Mexico chile as harvest season begins
Fall ushers in the chile harvest in the Southwest and the smell of roasted peppers fills the air in Southern New Mexico. The demand for hot peppers in this country continues to grow. But the number of acres of chile planted is dwindling as farmers in New Mexico face competition from cheaper foreign grown peppers. “Other crops produce more money and are less labor intensive. They’re mechanically harvested and grown and produced whereas chile is very hands on,” said Chris Biad whose family has been growing Chile in New Mexico for four generations. During harvest season, Biad’s Chile plant roasts 100,000 pounds of chile every six weeks. But as the appetite for chile grows so has the competition from China, India, and Mexico where farm labor is much cheaper. “Over the last ten years when you lose so much so quickly, 20,000 acres of chile gone and it’s what you do for a living and you grow up doing it you get concerned,” said Biad. Last year state lawmakers passed the New Mexico Chile Advertising Act to keep impostors from labeling their fresh or processed chile as New Mexican unless it was grown in the state. Others say quality is the key to coping with competition. They want to preserve chile plants that are native to New Mexico. Some hope heirloom varieties will boost sales. “They have five times the flavor of the standard green chiles being grown today. Not five times the heat but the actual green chile flavor,” said Professor Paul Bosland, of New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute...more