Proposed state senate bill would send relief checks to farm workers

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Senate Bill 1066 (SB-1066) is currently before the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill was proposed by Central Valley State Senator Melissa Hurtado earlier this year.

Hurtado says the drought has been so severe over the past few years that it not only hurts crops, but also dries up the wallets of farmworkers.

SB-1066 would allocate $20 million from the state budget to send $1,000 checks to eligible farmworkers for three years.

To qualify, at least one member of a household had to have worked as a farmhand for the entire period between March 11, 2020 and January 1, 2022.

“It’s really an investment in our own food system, it’s an investment in them for the work they do and the goods they provide to us,” Hurtado said.

A study from the University of California, Merced revealed the impact of the drought on the state’s economy.

The study found that the 2021 drought year cost the state’s agriculture industry $1.1 billion in losses and more than 8,700 jobs.

“What’s hurting the Central Valley is also hurting other parts of the state. That means when farmworkers are hurting, other people are going to feel the pain as well,” Hurtado said.

If passed, benefits would begin in January next year.

It wouldn’t solve the drought problem – but experts say it could help some farm workers afford to live in the state with less work in the fields.

Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All rights reserved.

Norman D. Briggs