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Pilot program proposed to help farmworkers impacted by drought

Farmworkers pick celery in the Salinas Valley
Dan Long
Flickr / Creative Commons
Farmworkers pick celery in the Salinas Valley

Proposed by State Sen. Melissa Hurtado, a Democrat from Sanger, Senate Bill 1066 would allocate $20 million to create the California Farmworkers Drought Resilience Pilot Project. The state-funded project that would provide unconditional monthly cash payments of a thousand dollars for three years to eligible farmworkers, with the goal of lifting them out of poverty.

Hurtado told Cal Matters that part of the reason for the bill is that the agriculture industry lost more than 8,000 jobs in 2021 alone due to the drought. She added that climate change would not make the situation any better.

The proposed legislation comes nearly a year after Hurtado wrote a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, urging him to prioritize farmworkers with the $35 million the state earmarked for guaranteed basic income pilot programs. The funding, agreed to by the Governor and the legislature as part of the fiscal year 2021-22 budget, will prioritize projects that serve former foster youth as well as pregnant individuals.

If SB 1066 becomes law, households would qualify for assistance if, among other things, at least one member is a California resident, and at least one member of the household has worked as a farmworker for the entire period between March 2020 to January 2022.