Farmer Joe Del Bosque told the State Board of Food and Ag on Tuesday that fallowing acres due to the drought will directly result in lost wages for farmworkers.
“We can't afford to lose anybody,” said Del Bosque. “What if next year we have more water and we can plant more acreage? Then we don't have the people. It's really a challenge for us to match our water, our crops, our people and our markets.”
Board President Don Cameron said he’s noticed that workers on his farm get tired of seeing their hours cut during a drought.
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“It's a lot easier for them to pick up and leave and go to a different area, different state,” said Cameron, adding that this will affect every community along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. “When the water does come back, I believe we'll see a much more severe issue with labor.”
Board member Don Bransford pointed out that disaster relief dollars tend to go to the farmer, “and the communities suffer horribly.”
“We’ve got to figure out how we can get the support that these communities need—to support schools, families, mental health and so on, to keep this together,” said Bransford.