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State budget includes funding to continue chile labor program


As part of the fiscal year 2023 state budget signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in March, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture received $1 million in appropriations to continue the Chile Labor Incentive Program (CLIP).

The program which was created by the governor at the prompting of New Mexico legislators in August 2021 to assist chile farmers and processors because of labor shortages reported by the industry. About $2.8 million was delivered to chile growers in the state at that time.

The additional $1 million in funding was included in the FY23 budget at the request of state Sens. Jeff Steinborn, D-Doña Ana, and Crystal Diamond, R-Doña Ana, Luna, Hidalgo and Sierra, the two senators said in a February news release.

The program supports chile farmers and processors by supplementing the wages of workers to incentivize hiring and retention of the seasonal workforce necessary to harvest and process New Mexico chile crops, NMDA said in an April news release.

The deadline for all applications is May 1, 2025, and funds will be disbursed on a first-come-first-serve basis until the allocated funds have been fully utilized, NMDA said.

“This temporary aid will help our family farms in desperate need of workers,” Diamond said in the senators’ joint news release. “Our agriculture industry is the backbone of our state’s economy, and for every community and family that relies on a strong chile harvest, this wage program represents a small step toward recovery."

“As our chile farmers struggle to find workers to harvest our prized state chile crop, it’s essential that we help support them meet the global demand. Hatch and New Mexico have worked hard to establish a global brand for our chile, and we want to ensure we meet the demand,” Steinborn said.

“By having CLIP funding available, we will be able to continue assisting the chile industry by distributing the labor-wage supplemental funding as needed in order to ensure the crop is harvested and processed,” New Mexico Agriculture Secretary Jeff Witte said in the NMDA news release.

“CLIP provided much needed relief to members of our industry and their ability to harvest and process chile during the 2021 season,” said New Mexico Chile Association Executive Director Travis Day. “We are thankful to see the program continue providing further relief for our industry, while we work toward long-term solutions to address labor shortage issues.”