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State senators secure funding to extend chile labor program

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New Mexico state Sens. Jeff Steinborn, D-Doña Ana, and Crystal Diamond, R-Doña Ana, Sierra, Luna and Hidalgo, both of whom represent the iconic Hatch Valley, have secured $1 million funding to continue the state’s Chile Labor Incentive Program (CLIP), the two senators said in a joint news release.

With support from state legislators, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced in August that the state was committing $5 million to form CLIP, a wage supplement program for the chile industry to combat concerns of a labor shortage that could have impacted the 2021 production of the state’s signature crop, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) said in a 2021 news release. The program was extended last through January 2022.

“This temporary aid will help our family farms in desperate need of workers,” said Diamond, who lives on a ranch near Elephant Butte in Sierra County. “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,” Diamond said.

“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,” said Steinborn, who lives in Las Cruces. “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.

Visit www.nmda.nmsu.edu.