NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Small businesses are still reeling from the impacts of COVID-19, but farmers in New Mexico are getting hit twice this year. Their water access has been cut off early for the second year in a row.
At this point in October, fall crops are typically already planted. “In 37 years, we have never left a field vacant,” said farmer Glen Duggins. Duggins had to skip this year, so a chunk of his land usually filled with wheat will stay bone dry.
“Some farmers were in tears asking them to keep the water on,” said Duggins. The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District voted for the second year in a row to cut off water access an entire month early due to the drought.
“That’s after a 30-day delay in the spring, which that 30-day delay, for some farms and mine was one of them, it was almost 60 days,” said Duggins. That’s 90 days in total without water during crucial planting seasons.
“We plant alfalfa, we plant wheat, there is hardly any wheat in this valley this year,” said Duggins. Without this year’s crop, his customers will have to go somewhere else. He says the odds of getting those customers back are slim.
As the last of his chile is packed and ready to head out, he will have to hope that is enough to get him through to the next chile season. “This would have been wheat which we would have planted last month and then we would have harvested at the first of May, which would give me some money to dump into the chile to keep it rolling,” said Duggins.
Duggins is also on the Board of Directors for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. The District says part of the issue is the state of El Vado Dam. Repairs are expected to start this winter.