Water Watch

Jul 21, 2014 9:37 PM by LiLi Tan, KSBY News

Central Coast may see more farm workers come from Central California

From the valley to the coast, drier conditions in the middle of California may drive more farm workers to the Central Coast to look for work.

"Word is spreading, and I'm sure we're going to get a flood more people coming in," local farm worker Jacob Pimienta said.

Born in Santa Maria and raised in Nipomo, Jacob Pimienta went to the Sacramento area in January to look for better work, but wasn't impressed with what he found.

"Dirt," Pimienta said. "There are no fields. There's nothing there."

For Pimienta, there were no jobs either, so he returned to the Central Coast in May.

"As soon as I got back, I got hired within two days and got at least 10 to 12 hours a day," he said.

Farms such as Tally Farms and Zapata Farms, where Pimienta was working Monday, say they have not had an influx of workers from Central California yet. However, Pimienta says word is spreading among the workers.

"[The Central Coast] is where it's at - where all the work is now. We pretty much have work all year round," he said.

However, landing a job here doesn't necessarily mean people can make ends meet. The San Luis Obispo County Food Bank says they've seen a five percent uptick of needy families who have come from the Central Valley looking for work in agriculture.

"It's very small right now, but in time that will get larger and it will have an impact in our community," said Food Bank CEO Carl Hansen.

Hansen says the food bank is still able to meet demand despite a decrease in food supplied and an increase in the number of people in need; however, like many farmers, it's holding its breath for El Niño. Hansen says if the rains don't come, they food bank will worry about a shortage come winter.

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