As a native New Mexican, the fall means that it is my favorite time of the year….green chile season. My home state is famous for our flavorful green chile crop and for good reason!
New Mexico recently passed an interesting law to ensure that only green chile that is truly New Mexican may be advertised as such within the state. This law illustrates the importance of this agricultural crop to the State of New Mexico and helps to ensure truth in advertising. Because numerous other states have similarly “famous” agricultural products, I thought a brief overview of the law might be useful.
The New Mexico Green Chile Advertising Act, NMSA 1978, Section 25-11-1 to -5, was passed in 2011 in order to prevent false advertising of chile as being from New Mexico if it was actually grown elsewhere.
The law prohibits a person from knowingly advertising, describing, labeling, or offering for sale chile peppers or products containing chile as “New Mexico chile” unless the peppers were grown in New Mexico. See NMSA 1978, Section 25-11-3(A). Further, the law prohibits advertising, describing, labeling or offering for sale chile peppers or products containing such peppers using the name of any New Mexico city, county, town, village, pueblo, river, mountain or other geographic feature located in New Mexico that states or implies that the chile was from New Mexico, unless the chiles were grown in the state. See id.
The law does not apply to those businesses whose name, logo or trademark were in existence prior to the Act’s passage in 2011, but those businesses are required to include “NOT GROWN IN NEW MEXICO” in a prominent location on the packaging. See NMSA 1978, Section 25-11-3(B).
Enforcement of the Act is undertaken by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, which may audit sales records of person selling chile advertised as New Mexican, and may issue stop-sale orders for Act violators. Violators may also face a court injunction for continued violations of the Act.