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Climate and Environment

Ventura Farmworkers Have Lost Critical Income In Storms

Several people wearing hats and masks hunch over in a large field of green plants, picking crops.
Farmworkers wear face masks while harvesting curly mustard in a field on Feb. 10, 2021 in Ventura County.
(Patrick T. Fallon
AFP via Getty Images)
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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.

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.

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The backstory

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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