Sacramento – Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) today introduced Senate Bill 530, a measure to help improve the living conditions of seasonal farmworkers.
A shortage of affordable housing has forced many farmworker families into unsafe and unhealthy living conditions. There are entire families living in one room, sharing an apartment with several other families, and many seasonal workers are sleeping in closets and outdoor utility sheds without access to running water or electricity.
“The hardworking folks that help grow the world’s food shouldn’t have to choose between putting a roof over their family’s heads and feeding their children,” said Vidak.
Many farmers have the land and want to build housing for their seasonal employees, but zoning ordinances often prevent them from doing so.
UnitedAg-sponsored SB 530 solves this problem by allowing owners of agricultural land to build housing for their seasonal employees if they follow health and safety codes, and building safety standards.
“On behalf of UnitedAg's members and our Board of Directors, I want to thank Senator Vidak for authoring this much needed farmworker housing legislation,” said UnitedAg President and CEO Kirti Mutatkar. “If enacted, this legislation will lead to safer and healthier housing on-site where the farmworker is employed. Hundreds of employer growers have wanted to build on-site housing but local land use restrictions in many circumstances have created next to impossible roadblocks.”
Similar legislation has been in effect since 1995 in Washington State, which also has a surge of seasonal employees.
“By passing legislation that allows farmers to build housing on their own farms for their own employees with more zoning flexibility, thousands of badly needed additional beds were added to the inventory of licensed farmworker housing in Washington State," said Washington Growers League Executive Director Mike Gempler, who was instrumental in helping pass the Washington law.