Jeff Masters Weather Blog

Bill would provide relief to farmworkers in drought-stricken California » Yale Climate Connections

About a quarter of the nation’s food is produced in California’s Central Valley. And for decades, people have come to the region to find jobs in agriculture.

State senator Melissa Hurtado says her parents immigrated there from Mexico.

“They came to the Central Valley in search of the American dream. What they had heard is that the Central Valley was the place where you can make that happen,” she says. “And this region provided that to them.”

But as climate change brings hotter, drier conditions, the American dream is getting harder to achieve in the Valley.

Because of severe drought the past few years, farmers have left some fields unplanted. And with fewer acres to plant and harvest, many workers have had their hours cut or lost their jobs.

“We know that just from the drought last year, there’s an estimated 8,500 jobs that were lost in the agriculture industry,” Hurtado says.

She says many of these workers are struggling to pay rent and feed their families.

So she’s proposed legislation that would provide qualified farmworkers with a $1,000 monthly stipend for three years.

“What we’re trying to do is provide farm workers, agricultural employees that are struggling to make ends meet just with a little bit of relief,” she says.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media

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