Proposed state senate bill would send relief checks to farmworkers

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Senate Bill 1066 (SB-1066) is currently in 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 bad over the past few years, not only is it hurting crops, it's also drying up the pocketbooks of farmworkers.

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

To qualify, a least one member of a household had to have worked as a farmworker 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 that they're doing and the goods they provide to us," said Hurtado.

A study from the University of California, Merced found the impact the drought has had on the state's economy.

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

"What hurts the Central Valley also hurts other parts of the state. That means when farmworkers are hurting, other people are going to feel the pain as well," said Hurtado.

If passed, the benefits would start in January of next year.

It wouldn't solve the drought issue -- but experts say it might help some farmworkers afford to live in the state with less work in the fields.
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