New Mexico chile farms may face worker shortage amid virus

New Mexico

In this photo taken Monday, April 27, 2020, the historic Route 66 in Albuquerque, N.M. sits nearly empty as shops remain close under a state health order to stop the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)

HATCH, N.M. (KVIA-TV) — A chile farmer in southern New Mexico says his workers aren’t tending the fields because they’re worried about contracting COVID-19.

KVIA-TV in El Paso, Texas, reports Sergio Grajeda says fears over the novel coronavirus are keeping workers away from his chile farm in New Mexico’s Hatch Valley.

Grajeda has more than 100 acres of pecans and chile.

He told the station he employs dozens of workers typically during the harvest.

He had to tend to his own fields on Monday.

New Mexico Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Kristie Garcia says the state has not yet received this specific complaint but has guidance online for farmers and workers to stay safe.

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