Home News Local News Few pecan buyer licenses locally

Few pecan buyer licenses locally

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John Wilson, owner of the Nut House on East Second Street, says his pecan buying license is pending. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

[Note: Haley Farms of Roswell received a buyers license in December. See related story, https://www.rdrnews.com/2018/12/12/haley-farms-among-licensed-pecan-buyers/.]

Only one Chaves County entity, the Nut House Pecan Co. on East Second Street, has a pending pecan buyers license about a month after a state law requiring licensure went into effect.

At least one residential grower has experienced some discomfort with the change.

Sally Hester, who owns a single pecan tree on her private property, said she has been accustomed to selling pecans to local buyers this time of year.

But this year, she said, she doesn’t have as many choices and there isn’t the same competition in pricing.

“A lot of us, I’m sure, were going to use this for Christmas money,” she said.

The new law went into effect Nov. 1 following public hearings and a Sept. 5 vote by the New Mexico State University Board of Regents, which has oversight over the New Mexico Department of Agriculture.

The law is a result of New Mexico Senate Bill 217, signed by Gov. Susana Martinez on March 2 and passed by the House and the Senate in February.

Supported by the industry, the law requires all New Mexico buyers of in-shell pecans to apply and pay for a license. They also have to provide information about themselves, and maintain detailed records about sellers, supplying them to law enforcement and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture upon request. The law is intended to protect the $213 million annual industry against pecan theft and the spread of the pecan weevil.

Since the passage of the law, one entity in Chaves County and 15 in the state have had their licenses processed, according to Kristie Garcia, public information officer for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture.

Most of the 15 licensed buyers are in Dona Aña County, she said. A few more applications from the Chaves County area were deemed incomplete and returned to the applicant, Garcia said.

Chaves County is the third-largest producer in the state, growing about 5 millions pounds a year, about half the size of Eddy County and a tenth of the size of Doña Ana, the state’s largest pecan-producing area.

Annual licenses are $300 for buyers with a fixed building or structure and $275 per mobile unit for people operating out of trucks or vans or other vehicles, with an additional $25 location permit required for each location from which the vehicles operate.

John Wilson, owner of the Nut House, said it is unclear to him this early in the process exactly what effect the licensing regulation will have.

He said he doesn’t mind the annual fee “if it will stop the theft of the pecans,” and said the record-keeping — which requires such information as sellers’ names, addresses, identification number from an official ID and a license plate number — is burdensome but required only a few additions to what his business was doing before the law went into effect.

Sandra Barraza, director of the Chaves County Extension Service, said time will tell if the law actually deters who it is meant primarily to stop, those who sell stolen nuts.

“There have been ones buying out of trucks on the corner,” she said, “and those truthfully were the targets of this law.”

She said she is aware of only one other buyer in the region with a pending license, Pecos Diamond Pecans of Artesia, which is in Eddy County.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.