Crop freeze prompts Schwarzenegger
to open unemployment assistance centers
By Elizabeth Daley, Bay City News Service
January 22, 2007
Governor Schwarzenegger announced Thursday the opening of one-stop
centers to assist farm workers who may have recently become unemployed
as a result of California's recent crop freeze.
The freeze, which may have decimated close to $1 billion worth
of crops, was initially thought to have only impacted citrus growers.
However, it appears the freeze has impacted a variety of crops
including "avocados, leafy greens, celery, strawberries,
and nursery plants. This is a staggering and devastating loss,"
said California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who wrote a letter Wednesday
asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to grant Schwarzenegger's
request for government assistance.
In her letter, Feinstein stated that the USDA estimates only
25 percent of this year's citrus and avocado crop had been picked
before cold temperatures set in.
This is significant to Californians and the nation "because
95 percent of the nation's fresh citrus comes from California,"
"We must help those who have been affected by the freeze,"
said Schwarzenegger, who declared a state of emergency after witnessing
the destructive frost firsthand at Fresno groves on Jan. 16.
Schwarzenegger announced the opening of centers to provide food
and job assistance, healthcare information, warming center locations
and other essential information to unemployed workers.
"These centers will bring all the state's services into
one place so the people who need immediate help can get assistance
as soon as possible," said Schwarzenegger.
Located throughout the ten counties, with one center in Salinas
at 730 LaGuardia Street, centers will be open on weekdays from
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. as long as they are needed.
Six mobile office units will conduct outreach to more remote
regions in the counties, with assistance from La Cooperativa and
other non-profits that work closely with farm workers, according
to the Governor's Office.
The mobile units will travel to different sites to help workers
fill out required unemployment paperwork, and help with job placement,
in addition to providing other types of assistance.
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