What’s in a Name – New Mexico Certified


What’s in a Name – New Mexico Certified

Boycott New Mexico Certified Chile!

Boycott chile products from the New Mexico Chile Association members!




As the summer comes to an end, you may have been admiring your neighbor’s pink hollyhocks, so you ask for some seeds to plant next year and your neighbor gives you a handful.  Both of you would have been breaking the law if a certain bill had not been killed at this year’s state legislature.

Did you hear or read anything about the seed law on the media anywhere last March?

Yes, just simply sharing seed or other acts, including “…the cultivation, harvest, production, processing, … storage, transportation, distribution, possession, … planting or 
other use of agricultural or vegetable seed” are all things that would have been illegal for every person in New Mexico.  Everyone!

And what is meant by “other use”? Would other use include eating seeds such as corn, all grains like oats and wheat, and other edible seeds like beans, pumpkin or amaranth?

Who introduced this bill?  The primary sponsors were from Albuquerque, Bernalillo County: Rep. Jimmie G. Hall (R) and Rep. William “Bill” Rehm (R).[1]

The bill in question was House Bill 161 (HB161), titled “Establishing State Preemption of the Regulation of Agricultural and Vegetable Seeds.”[2]

HB161 would have amended the NM Seed Law, giving the state supreme power over all seeds possessed or grown in NM, including those in gardens, a concern confirmed by the New Mexico Attorney General’s office: 

“…The result is that decisions on what can be grown locally will be taken away from local control and exist exclusively in the state domain… ‘Vegetable seed’ includes the seeds of those crops which are grown in gardens…”

 (January 2018, HB161 Fiscal Impact Report)

Laws are what happen when we have abandoned our ethics.  Laws are how we manipulate behavior.  Now laws are being passed for profit.  Commodification of people and the commons is increasingly the norm.  Whether Democratic or Republican, both parties are actively involved in this transactional practice.


NM Citizens say “BASTA”

Who spoke in support of this seed bill?  T.J. Trujillo, the primary advocate and paid lobbyist for BIO presented the bill.  BIO is an organization representing the biotech industry, which includes Bayer, Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta.  Others supporters of the bill included the Farm Bureau and a local permanent member of the biotech front, the NM Chile Association.


The NM state legislature experienced an unprecedented citizens’ response, as citizens visited, called, and showed up at the hearing to successfully halt HB161.  A packed room of outraged protesters rotated in and out of the committee hearing, testifying against the bill. 

What are the implications of a bill like this?  What are the interests of all of the bill’s sponsors?


In 2008, the New Mexico Chile Association (NMCA) secured funding for development of a genetically engineered (GE) chile.  Actually, the NMCA had already been receiving funds for this since 1993.  For many small farmers and families in New Mexico, chile is a staple food crop. Seeds have been saved and replanted for over 400 years.  These native chiles run the risk of cross contamination from the GE trials and eventually the final GE chile.  It is being developed by New Mexico State University (NMSU) and its biotech partners.  NMSU will own the patent.

Concerned citizens tried for three legislative sessions to get a bill passed, “The Farmer Protection Act,” that would have protected any person who was unintentionally in possession of a patented GE crop.  But even if this bill had passed, it would not have done anything to protect the integrity of any seeds grown in New Mexico from GE contamination.


Where is Your Chile’s Birth Certificate?

The NMCA is comprised of chile industry processors and businesses, some who also have operations in Texas, Arizona, Mexico, and elsewhere.  Members include Bueno Foods (El Encanto, Inc., Buenatural), Cervantes, Seco Spice, and Young Guns, among others.  The NMCA lobbies the NM state legislature for chile funding that goes to NMSU, which they direct.

Over the past seven years, the NMCA has secured passage of legislation that controls every person who grows any type of chile. In 2011, a bill called “The New Mexico Chile Advertising Act” was introduced on behalf of the NMCA by Senator George Munoz from McKinley County.

Enacted in 2012, the bill made it “unlawful for a person to knowingly advertise, describe, label or offer for sale chile peppers as NM chile … unless the chile peppers … were grown in NM.” This law defines “New Mexico chile” as “capsicum annuum, which includes all types of peppers such as jalapenos, Italian sweet peppers, yellow hots, etc. The law allows for 5% of non-New Mexican chile to be included.

Most of the small-scale chile growers, family farmers, and backyard growers do not describe their chile as “New Mexican.”  It is named for region where it is grown, as the soils dictate the taste and that is what makes our chiles so special.

So, the NMCA came back to the 2013 legislature and amended the Chile Act, now called “Expanding the Violations of the NM Chile Advertising Act”. This bill now criminalizes any grower who uses the name of any city (e.g. Española), town, county, village, pueblo, mountain (e.g. Sandia ), river (e.g.  Rio Grande ) or other geographic feature or features located in NM, unless they are registered with the NM Department of Agriculture.

Why should we have to register with the NMDA to grow our own food?

 In 2014, the New Mexico Chile Association (NMCA) trademarked the words “New Mexico Certified Chile™” and logo.


This black logo is for use ONLY by members of the NMCA.

Every purchase of a chile product with this label gives money to the companies that are trying to take away our rights to all of our seeds, not only chile. 

Boycott these products!

At local restaurants, ask them whose chile they use.  Tell them

about the NMCA’s efforts to take away our freedom to plant.

  • Go to your local farmers’ markets and purchase your chile directly from local farmers.
  • Ask them if they are members of the NM Chile Association. If so, tell them why you will not purchase chile products from them.
  • Support farmers who support our right to take responsibility for how we feed ourselves and care for our natural community.


Public Posture of NMCA

All these legislative efforts are blocks in an entire construct of laws designed to control who owns chile, and now all seeds, and to regulate how they are grown, shared or sold.

NMSU is developing a genetically engineered chile for the NMCA, using traits from our landrace chiles. NMSU receives funding (on behalf of the NMCA), will own the seed patent (on genes taken from the public domain), regulates and knows the location of chile farmers (through enforcement of the NM Chile Act by NMDA), and certifies the seed (NMSU Seed Certification Office).

It is wrong to use taxpayer money to prop up one troubled industry at the expense of local viable economies. The NMCA should not be functioning as a governmental entity, nor should they be using taxpayer money to regulate other businesses. The NMCA is an association for private business and has no right to determine laws that affect other businesses or businesspeople. The NM Department of Agriculture should not be functioning as an enforcement arm of the NMCA.

The net effect of these laws is that lobbyists have moved into the legislative and regulatory bodies of government and are using taxpayer money to do so. Efforts to trademark and further commodify a staple food crop should never come at the expense of a successful and healthy way of life.


Boycott New Mexico Certified Chile!

Boycott chile products from the New Mexico Chile Association members!

 [1] Other co-sponsors included:

  • Larry A. Larrañaga, (R – Bernalillo)
  • Harry Garcia (D – Bernalillo, Cibola, McKinley, Socorro, San Juan, Valencia)
  • Candy Spence Ezzell (R – Chaves)
  • Dennis J. Roch (R – Colfax, Curry, Harding, Quay, Roosevelt, San Miguel, Union)
  • George Dodge, Jr. (D – Curry, DeBaca, Guadalupe, Roosevelt, San Miguel)
  • Rick Little (R – Doña Ana and Otero)
  • Candie G. Sweetser (D – Grant, Hidalgo & Luna)
  • Sharon Clahchischilliage (R – San Juan County)

[2]                  “SECTION 2. A new section of the New Mexico Seed Law is enacted to read:

            “[NEW MATERIAL] STATE PREEMPTION.–Except as otherwise authorized in Chapter 76, Article 10 NMSA 1978, a city, county or other political subdivision of the state or a home rule municipality or county shall not adopt or continue in effect any ordinance, rule, regulation or statute regulating agricultural or vegetable seeds, including the cultivation…”