Eric Larson, executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, said there are few agencies offering fire recovery planning assistance to area growers. "They're pretty much on their own," he said. Larson's organization recognizes that each farm and nursery has been affected in a unique way because of the way natural disasters grab with indiscriminate fingers at one location while ignoring other spots nearby.
Overall, he estimated, the county's $1.5 billion agricultural industry suffered a $42 million loss from the recent wildfires. At some farms, there was only minor damage. At others, there was 100 percent loss.
For those who work in the fields and whose livelihood depends on the crops, the fires imposed a more personal toll. Most live paycheck to paycheck and income lost during the fires has left the already struggling workers in dire financial need. Most of the workers in the
"Many of them are at an economic disadvantage already. They are in single paycheck houses and are either uninsured or underinsured," said Michelle Scott of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)…
…The Farm Bureau and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are offering assistance to the farm owners and growers. Farmworkers were put out of work by the fires and were not paid while the farms and nurseries burned.
…Larson said the full extent of the damage to crops won't be known for some time. Dawn Neilson, of the department of agriculture, weights and measures for
UMCOR has set up a variety of assistance programs designed to help farmworkers navigate through the difficult times. Donations were being solicited to help those who lost paychecks or who may have been injured by the fires while still at work…