USA - California farmers trying to assess damage after massive winter storms

24.01.2023 349 views

Farmers in California, who had been hoping for an end to the drought, are now trying to deal with flooded fields and damaged crops after this winter's massive rains.

At Lakeside Organic Gardens in Watsonville, a month of solid rain proved to be both a blessing and a curse.

"We kinda have mixed feelings because we've been praying for water, but we weren't praying for it all to come at one time," says Dick Peixoto, owner of Lakeside Organic Gardens.

Now Peixoto's fields are flooded. Some crops; lettuces, broccoli, cilantro, have been ruined.
Others can't be planted at all until things dry out and the soil is tested for contaminants. The losses will be huge.

"Probably around $3 to $4 million total losses. And some of that is crop loss, but a lot of that is fixing the ground after it's done," he says.

In Monterey County, they're launching a new survey this week, trying to assess the damage. The hope is to get disaster relief to those in need.

"Preliminarily we have come up with an estimate of about 20 thousand acres that may have gone under water and maybe $40 million to 50 million in damages so far," says Norm Groot with the Monterey County Farm Bureau.

And many farmers haven't been able to access their fields yet, so that number is likely to grow. Experts believe strawberries may take the biggest hit since they get planted early.
And Peixoto says his greens may be late to market in the spring.

"A lot of consumers will forget about it but when they go to the grocery store and see the prices high they'll say what the heck is going on," says Peixoto.

The answer, it will take time to regroup and replant after those massive storms.

"We are the salad bowl of the world. You know when you take the salad bowl of the world and put it underwater and say those crops are destroyed, it makes a big hole in the supply chain there," he says.

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