When it rains, it pours, well they wish

Farmers in California just began to adjust to COVID-19, but are set off guard by the raging fires that took place in August.

On+Sep.+16%2C+the+River+Fire+near+Las+Palmas+neighborhood+in+Salina+was+out+of+control%2C+even+after+firefighters+tried+to+slow+it+down.+%0APhoto+by+Nic+Coury.%0A

On Sep. 16, the River Fire near Las Palmas neighborhood in Salina was out of control, even after firefighters tried to slow it down. Photo by Nic Coury.

Madalynn Spyker, Editor

COVID-19 has lost many people’s ability to work and began disrupting many lives instantly. In particular, farmers in Salinas, Calif. are challenged with the global pandemic and fires that broke out after a lightning strike on Aug. 16. Two large fires broke out in Monterey County in the past month. Surprisingly, these fires have been burning for over two weeks.  The source that started the second fire is still unknown. 

In fact, according to The Mercury News, “The River Fire south of Salinas is at 48,000 acres burned, with containment now at 87 percent.” ”has destroyed 30 structures and damaged 13. Four firefighters have suffered minor injuries”

At a farm located in Salinas, harvesting rows of fruits and vegetables are a lot of work without the new obstacles that are pushed on them. Two more wildfires had broken out mid-August, which only brought more issues for these farmers. 

Jesús Ahumada, an agricultural foreman in Salinas, said: “it hurt our sinuses.” When working one day he had demanded they stop working because the smoke had become unbearable.  They only stopped one day. Unfortunately, farmers work at least minimum wage, so for them to only take a day off is hard. 

On Sep. 16, the River Fire near Las Palmas neighborhood in Salina was out of control, even after firefighters tried to slow it down.
Photo by Nic Coury.

 

Dr. Caroline Kennedy, medical director of the Clinic Services Bureau at the Monterey County Health Department, says: “it’s been one hardship after another for the people who harvest our food; first COVID-19, now wildfire.” 

In Watsonville, Calif. some farmers are facing similar struggles. Apolinar Yerena, the 68-year-old owner of Yerena Farms has admitted that “this is the worst thing that has happened.” Yerena farms usually sell twice as many strawberry crates as they are now, but since the demand is low they haven’t been selling as much as they had before the global pandemic. 

On the other hand, Live Farm, a few miles away from Yerena Farms has been having great success. Some local farms have an advantage since there is a high demand for groceries, which has been beneficial. Tom Broz, the owner of Live Farm, even stated he had to put some people on the waiting list to get a hold of their produce. 

It is apparent that since Gov. Gavin Newsom set the statewide shelter-in-place order, it has resulted in California’s agricultural goods be a risky game. 

“According to a new survey from the California Farm Bureau Federation, 57% of the Golden State’s farmers have lost customers or revenue because of COVID-19,” stated The Mercury News. 

These farmers continue to do their best and put forth their best effort to continue feeding their towns. Hopefully, the hot weather will die down, and wildfires will be out of the scene. As for COVID-19, who knows when life will get back to normal.