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Central Coast farm sector battles with the statewide heatwave

PRODUCE HEAT .jpg
Posted at 7:10 PM, Sep 04, 2022

For the farming sector, it’s a race between time and nature during this California heatwave.

Dan Sutton, general manager of the Pismo Oceano Vegetable Exchange said while they won’t be experiencing the high temperatures like those in north county, they are still taking steps to help workers stay safe outside.

That includes starting work around 5 AM, so that employees can punch out sooner and minimize their time in the sun as they work to make sure the produce makes it to our table.

“We’ve been through this type of heat before, again our goal is to try to make sure that the temperature of the products are about 34-35 degrees so that when it arrives at its destination it has a good shelf life," said Sutton.

Hotter temperatures mean taking extra precautions to help cool produce. One way is by using a vacuum tube to get rid of field heat.

“That process will take a little bit longer of time as the products coming into the facility are of warmer temperature," explained Sutton.

Industry leaders stated it's even more important that employers are proactive in protecting their workers during these brutal temperatures. 

The non-profit organization, CAUSE, serves as an advocate for farmworkers.

“In a heat wave like this certainly everyone is at risk, but farmworkers are so much more at risk than anyone else," said Lucas Zucker, CAUSE policy director.

According to the CDC, farm workers die from heat-related illnesses at a rate 20 times greater than the rest of the U.S. workers.

For more information about heat illness prevention in the workplace can be found on this website.