Ventura Farmworkers Have Lost Critical Income In Storms
March is typically one of the busiest months for farmworkers in Southern California. But this year, historic storms have flooded fields and destroyed crops, leaving farmworkers across Ventura County without work.
Octavio sent this pic from where he's harvesting strawberries in Ventura County. The ground is muddy and slippery. Worse, many strawberries are too rain damaged to harvest for market. This means at what usually is peak season, he is earning min wage for way less hours. #WeFeedYou pic.twitter.com/Ws54AQ15eH— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) March 18, 2023
Why it matters
Persistent storms have flooded farmland across Southern California, leaving many farmworkers with reduced hours and lost income. In Ventura County, farmworker Carmen Obeso says the whole farmworking community is working only two or three days a week in four or six-hour shifts. One representative with the United Farm Workers estimated workers have lost up to two months of income.
Southern California is experiencing a historic series of rainstorms. On Tuesday, forecasters warned of small tornados called "landspouts" across the region.
For California's farmworkers, the weather means loss of work and harvesting crops in more dangerous conditions.
Roman Pinal with the United Farm Workers says this should be farmworkers' busiest season, and therefore most profitable.
"March is typically the peak season where the plants are producing abundance of strawberries. And so what that means for workers is this is the month where they fill their piggy banks," he said.
Instead, Pinal adds that workers will struggle to pay bills and make rent due to lost wages. Farmworkers and UFW organizers say local, state and federal governments need to step in to offer support to farmworkers.
Go deeper: 'We Have Nothing': Pajaro Farmworkers Face the Prospect of No Income at Start of Harvesting Season
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