Valley ag community adjusts to heat wave

Cal/OSHA reminded fieldworkers earlier this week that they are entitled to water, rest, and shade.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Valley's agricultural community has had to adjust quickly to blazing hot temperatures.

For those who put in long hours at strawberry stands, the shade isn't enough.

Fans are essential, along with plenty of water.

"It certainly came on strong," Tulare County Farm Bureau Executive Director Tricia Stever-Blattler says. "We've had some pretty moderate, enjoyable temperatures the last few weeks, so it's always hard when we get that first major heat wave in early June."

Stever-Blattler says she expects ag employers will follow the state's strict rules related to heat illness prevention.

Cal/OSHA reminded fieldworkers earlier this week that they are entitled to water, rest, and shade.

When it's this hot, Stever-Blattler says workers should avoid alcohol and energy drinks, and watch out for one another during the workday, which tends to start earlier during the summer months.

"There are probably a lot of crews right now starting work at three and four in the morning and probably getting finished by 11 or 12 o' clock, midday," Stever-Blattler says.

Humans aren't the only ones feeling the heat this week.

Livestock feels it too, especially cattle.

Stever-Blattler says extreme heat can lead to a decrease in a cow's milk production all the way to their death.

That's why it's so important for farmers to make some simple changes to keep their animals cool.

"Animals really pick up stress through the movement and the excitement of being herded and moved around the property," Stever-Blattler explains. "So a lot of our dairy producers will really try to maximize low stress handling practices-move cattle in the earliest parts of the day when it's the coolest, try to optimize shade and evaporative cooler access. Try to optimize the amount of cool water available for just drinking."

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