Reps. Carbajal, Panetta, Lofgren, Costa Request Disaster Relief Package to Help California Farms Damaged by Winter Storms, Catastrophic Flooding
California members represent agricultural regions with estimated damages totaling more than $500 million – with potential for even greater need for aid after repeated pummeling by storms in February and March
Washington, April 24, 2023
Today, California Representatives Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), Jim Costa (CA-21), and Zoe Lofgren (CA-18) are urging the creation and passage of a disaster recovery package in the U.S. House of Representatives that can aid recovery efforts for California farms and ranches devastated by historic storms earlier this year.
“For nearly three weeks, California was hit with storms that brought intense rain and catastrophic flooding. The historic storms caused tremendous damage to thousands of acres of farms and ranches,” the lawmakers said in a letter to top House leaders and appropriators. “We, therefore, request a disaster recovery package be swiftly put together to allow the rebuilding and recovery process to begin. It is imperative Congress provide much-needed aid to California’s agricultural community to allow for a full and timely recovery.”
From December 27, 2022, to January 16, 2023, California had nine atmospheric rivers–each of which held as much water as a hurricane–producing powerful storms that dropped around lawmakers represent areas of California that saw more than $500 million in estimated flood and storm damage to agricultural operations in their region, which is the number one industry in California. California has more agricultural production than any other state in the union, with nearly 70,000 farms operated on 24.3 million acres.
Subsequent storms in California from February through March complicate recovery efforts further–with claims filed with the Farm Service Agency already numbering more than 1,000 and assessments still ongoing.
The request for a disaster recovery package is being sent today to Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, who also represents California farmland impacted by recent flooding, as well as Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, House Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger, and Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro.
The full text of the letter can be found here and below:
Dear Speaker McCarthy, Leader Jeffries, Chair Granger, and Ranking Member DeLauro,
We write to ask that you engage with us to help bring a bipartisan disaster recovery package to the House Floor to deliver much-needed assistance to agricultural producers affected by the severe weather in California. For multiple weeks on end, California was hit with storms that brought intense rain and catastrophic flooding. The historic storms caused tremendous damage to thousands of acres of farms and ranches. To ensure these agricultural producers can fully recover losses and remain in operation, we are asking for a disaster recovery package.
From December 27, 2022, to January 16, 2023, California had nine atmospheric rivers–each of which held as much water as a hurricane–producing powerful storms that dropped around 32 trillion gallons of water. This is just one example of the multiple storms that have persisted since January. The rainfall led to power outages, mudslides, and severe flooding. California has more agricultural production than any other state with nearly 70,000 farms operated on 24.3 million acres. These farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers have been drastically impacted by the storms.
While some fields had not yet been planted, saving them from losing an entire crop, that was not the case for many. Fields flooded, lost precious topsoil, are covered in debris or were entirely washed away. Many growers will not have their fields ready to go for the traditional planting season and will need to push their timeline.
Some fields are so saturated with water that they will not be dry enough to plant at all this year, reducing the number of acres planted. This combination of damages will make recovery that much more difficult.
The Farm Service Agency has received over 900 filings for assistance within the following Counties:
Santa Barbara County: 240
Ventura County: 75
San Luis Obispo County: 320
Monterey County: 300
Santa Cruz County: 65
Many of these same counties have also been hit by subsequent storms in February and March. In addition, Tulare County estimates $113 million in damages.
Individuals also lost their homes, including both the landowners and the farm workers. It is vital that all farmworker housing be fully restored, and that they receive necessary unemployment benefits to ensure that farm operations can restore as soon as possible.
We, therefore, request you engage with us on putting together a bipartisan disaster recovery package be swiftly put together to allow the rebuilding and recovery process to begin. It is imperative Congress provide much-needed aid to California’s agricultural community to allow for a full and timely recovery. Thank you for your consideration of this request. We look forward to working with you on this critical issue.
Washington, DC Office
2331 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3601
Santa Barbara Office
125 E. De La Guerra St., Suite 203B
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Phone: (805) 730-1710
505 Poli St., Suite 201
Ventura, CA 93001
Phone: (805) 730-1710
- San Luis Obispo Office