Extreme weather spells food insecurity for California farmworkers

In California, farmworkers who harvest the nation’s food are paid so little that they can’t always afford to eat. Now extreme weather events — many of them fueled by climate change — are making matters worse, reports Teresa Cotsirilos in a FERN story produced in collaboration with “Here and Now,” the national radio show.

“When climate hits, these communities of farmworkers are hit harder,” says Josue Medellin-Azuara, an associate professor of environmental engineering at the University of California, Merced.

“For many California farmworkers, the storms have been devastating. Some were forced to evacuate, or lost cars and other possessions to the flooding. And throughout the state, workers have been unable to work, losing income to buy basic necessities,” the story says.

“Farmworker food insecurity has been a problem for years. The federal government doesn’t keep data on this, but the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that between 1.1 million and 1.9 million farmworkers and their family members don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Now, with wildfires, heat waves, drought, and floods taking a toll on California’s farmland, some farm laborers are working less, if at all,” Cotsirilos reports.

All of which means less money to put food on the table.

You can listen to the story on “Here & Now” at this link.