California lawmakers seeking disaster relief package for farmers

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California lawmakers seeking disaster relief package for farmers

A coalition of California lawmakers on Monday requested a disaster relief package to aid California farmers affected by historic rains during winter

The agricultural sector suffered estimated damages totaling more than $500 million from nine atmospheric rivers between Dec. 27, 2022, and Jan. 16, 2023, causing “tremendous damage to thousands of acres of farms and ranches,” the lawmakers said in a letter to top House leaders and appropriators.

Lawmakers highlighted that California has more agricultural production than any other state with nearly 70,000 farms operated on 24.3 million acres. 

“These farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers have been drastically impacted by the storms,” they said. 

The letter was signed by California representatives, Zoe Lofgren (CA-18),  Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), and Jim Costa (CA-21).

“Individuals also lost their homes, including landowners and farm workers. It is vital that all farmworker housing be fully restored, and that they receive necessary unemployment benefits to ensure that farm operations can be restored as soon as possible,” said the letter. 

Representatives also indicated that, while some fields had not yet been planted, saving them from losing an entire crop, that was not the case for many. Fields flooded, lost precious topsoil, are covered in debris or were entirely washed away. 

Many growers will not have their fields ready to go for the traditional planting season and will need to push their timeline. Some fields are so saturated with water that they will not be dry enough to plant at all this year, reducing the number of acres planted. This combination of damages will make recovery that much more difficult. 

The Farm Service Agency has received over 900 filings for assistance within the following Counties: 

Santa Barbara County: 240 

Ventura County: 75 

San Luis Obispo County: 320 

Monterey County: 300 

Santa Cruz County: 65

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