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Farmers and farmworkers forced off farmland for weeks after storms flooded crops

SALINAS, Calif. (KMUV-TV) - January rains have hit Monterey County farmers hard.

This is causing millionaire losses to the farmers in the fields, but it is also leaving many families without income.

Dozens of farming families on the Central Coast are trying to recover from the damage left by January rains and flooding.

This is the case of Humberto Vargas. He was one of the farmers in the Salinas area who was unable to plow the land or get into crops for nearly three weeks, due to river washouts and water seeping into the furrows.

“As human beings, we all feel sadness, it is a monetary effort, an investment, you have no control over nature, but your hopes are dashed, even though we understand that we need water,” said Humberto.

Monterey County submitted its report to the Governor's Office for Emergency Services, stating $30 million in damage to infrastructure and agricultural land.

“Per acre, 15 to 20 thousand dollars are invested, if three acres are invested to get them ready, then we have to invest that money to get them ready again. We have checked programs that are going to help the farmer and we are waiting for that.”

Humberto Vargas
Help me feed them, so they can feed us,” a farmer posted on a GoFundMe account to offset the income of his flood-affected farmworkers

Federal agencies in conjunction with the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner's office conduct damage assessments for those who request them.

Javier Zamora, the owner of a strawberry and blackberry farm in Aromas, watched as heavy rains flooded his land for three weeks, damaging a total of 22 acres. This caused him to lose his 10-acre strawberry crop.

“It will probably take us about two weeks to put the plastic back and clean up the debris that the river brought towards us, and be able to harvest the strawberries to start harvesting them in April,” Zamora said.

It wasn't until two weeks later that several farmers in the city of Aromas met to present their applications to the US Department of Agriculture. Of the farmers present, very few were Hispanic.

You can help donate by gofundme which can be found here.

According to the latest Monterey County Agricultural Census report, 87% of farmland is owned by independent farmers, of whom less than 20% are Hispanic.

Monterey County acknowledged that some farm fields are unfit to farm.

JSM Organics Ranch, Aromas

“We know there is a huge need after those storms, there are thousands of workers out of work because there are thousands of acres that were flooded, that has an impact on agriculture here in Monterey County,” said the Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo. “When work starts in March and April we will know we are behind on those crops.”

Alejo proposes the other supervisors distribute funds to families affected by this situation since he comments that some families have no alternatives to request insurance benefits due to their legal status in the United States.

The farmers commented that according to the FDA food and safety laws, they will be prevented from returning to work on their land for the next 30 to 60 days, which leaves many farmers, workers, and Hispanic families without their source of income. income.

The United States Department of Agriculture invites farmers to present their complaints and needs, since it extended the dates to request their relief packages until June, through the Emergency Assistance Program in the event of a catastrophe (ECP).

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Sandra Iveth Santos

Reportera / Presentadora
Periodista Multimèdia Bilingüe en Telemundo 23 Costa Central


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