Asm. Robert Rivas of Salinas packed an ambitious agenda into his first hearing as the new chair of the Assembly Ag Committee on Wednesday.

Among the many panelists, California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson ran through the many ways wildfires have ravaged the industry in recent years. Of note:

  • Sonoma County farmers have submitted 1,500 applications for help with damages since 2017.
  • Crop losses due to smoke and ash from the LNU Lightning Complex will cost hundreds of millions.
  • One farm had nearly $2 million in damages from the 2019 Maria Fire after a public safety power shutoff prohibited them from irrigating the trees ahead of time.
  • Nearly 70% of farmers in a survey reported a lack of available N95 masks for workers this year.
  • Insurance premiums have jumped from $8,000 to $36,000 for some policyholders, while others lost coverage completely. 

“It's a somber reminder of how California agriculture is different,” said Johansson, “and how the inability of responsible agencies to understand the unique needs of the industry…has resulted in arguably avoidable tragedy.”