Sen. Hurtado first pushed the bill that would provide $1,000 to eligible farm workers per month for three years, but that bill had to be changed to fit the current DSS structure. The DSS is a department of state that provides financial assistance to low-income residents. After being modified, SB 1066 will supplement the cash assistance calculated according to the specific needs of each agricultural worker, so there is no fixed amount. SB 1066 will mimic the structure of current DSS assistance programs.
Currently, 2022 is the driest year in 100 years, according to the California State Drought Action. Because Tulare County sits in one of the most productive valleys in the state, about a quarter of jobs are related to agriculture, according to the US Climate and Health Alliance (USCHA). This means that a severe drought is translating into economic hardship and a lack of opportunity for many agricultural workers, the USCHA reported.
“When we talk about food safety, when we talk about our food supply chain and our food system, our workers are the most important part of a thriving food system,” Hurtado said. “If we don’t have that, then our food system starts to break down.”