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New Mexico

Labor shortage impacts harvest for Hatch and Mesilla Valley farmers

New Mexico is in the height of green chile season and farmers depend on help with harvesting. However, this year farmers say they are facing a labor shortage.

“It’s really, really hard to get workers out there right now,” Alonso Grajeda, a green chile farmer from Hatch, said. “It hurts us big time.”

Most years, farmers biggest battle is against the weather. But not this year.

“Since last year, there’s been a big, big shortage of labor and so that’s affecting everything,” Grajeda said.

And with it being the peak of the harvest season for green chile, it’s not the time farmers want to deal with a labor shortage.

“You also may end up losing a crop due to weeds or whatever because of the lack of help,” Grejeda said. “I lost about 5 acres already due to weeds. I couldn’t keep them clean so now it was just a big old mess of weeds and that’s gone. That’s gone.”

The shortage also creates more competition between the farmers.

“They’ll basically go with whoever treats them better, pays them better and where the crop is better,” Grajeda said.

He also says it isn’t affect them or their customers much at this time, but he doesn’t want the labor shortage to continue long term.

“Hopefully not, we’re hoping it doesn’t,” he said. “Hopefully next year something better will come out but I think things will come around.”

Grajeda also said the shortage and extreme shifts in weather this year have made it a harder year to harvest. However, he says it’s not affect the cost or quality of the chilies at this time.

KVIA 2019

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