Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Green or Red, or Imported?(New Mexico)

Byline: Susan Montoya Bryan The Associated Press

* New Mexico's chile farmers struggle against nature, higher costs and cheaper peppers from Mexico

HATCH The mayor of this southern New Mexico town won't eat a plate of eggs unless they're smothered with chile.

Gilbert Bartlett loves the tongue-singeing peppers.

"I get my chile bottle out and I have a little for breakfast, lunch and supper," he said. "I love that hot chile and can eat it as hot as anybody."

Bartlett lives in the heart of the Hatch Valley the largest chile-producing area in the nation. The valley is striped with rows and rows of what has become over the last century the state's most valuable vegetable crop.

Farmers this season are harvesting what they call one of the best crops in years. However, they are grappling with an uncertain future as market prices for chile, onions and other commodities spiral downward and the number of imports continue to increase. …

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