September 30, 2015

Heinrich adds a voice to the Hatch ‘chile battle’

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Green chile roasting. Photo Credit: Flickr cc " target="_blank">nanpalmeiro cc

A U.S. Senator from New Mexico is stepping up to bat for the state’s chile growers.

Green chile roasting. Photo Credit: mediageek via Compfight cc " target="_blank">nanpalmeiro cc

diageek

Green chile roasting. Photo Credit: nanpalmeiro cc

Sen. Martin Heinrich voiced his concern for chile growers in New Mexico who currently have a case filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. His concern, he said, is out of state companies with labels that may confuse consumers.

Chile, both red and green, is an iconic crop for New Mexico. New Mexico even has an official State Question: “Red or green?”

Heinrich said he spoke out in favor of New Mexico chile farmers because he wants to see them get credit for their labor.

“This is about transparency, honesty and accuracy,” Heinrich told New Mexico Political Report over the phone on Tuesday.

He said he spoke with a group of chile growers and determined the issue was non-partisan.

“This isn’t about red or blue,” Heinrich said. “This is about red or green.”

Earlier this year, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported that a group of chile growers in the state were trying to protect the name of a town where many chiles are grown. Both in and out of New Mexico, the name Hatch on a label implies that the crop was grown in Hatch, New Mexico. Farmers argue that at least one product is misleading.

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich. Official photo.

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich. Official photo.

Hatch Chile Co., once based in New Mexico, is now located in Georgia. New Mexico chile farmers argue that the company’s name misleads consumers into thinking that the crop is from New Mexico when it may be grown in various other states or countries.

On the local level, legislators have continually tried to protect the Hatch name. Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, carried one such bill in 2013.

He told New Mexico Political Report on Tuesday that nothing compares to local chile crops.

“New Mexico chile is New Mexico chile,” he said.

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