SALINAS – Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) joined the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California and local leaders to kick-off Rivas’ statewide agricultural tour in Assembly District 30. This first leg of the tour included a celebration of the procurement of $1 million in the state budget for funding to support INSV/PW pathogen research relating to the epidemic affecting the signature leafy green crops (lettuce, kale, arugula, and more) in Monterey County.
“The Salinas Valley is known as the ‘Salad Bowl of the World’ - no other region produces as many leafy greens as Monterey County. The leafy greens industry generates billions of dollars for the local and state economies and provides work for hundreds of thousands of local residents,” said Asm. Rivas, Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee. “The combination of rising costs, decreasing profits, and spreading disease threatens California’s primacy in the leafy greens production economy. I am grateful that the Governor and the Legislature have prioritized the critical research necessary to stop the spread of these pathogens.”
Last year, the Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus (INSV) and Pythium Wilt (PW) pathogens appeared in hundreds of fields across the region, and the average grower lost millions of dollars in revenue and reported cost increases of roughly $700 per acre to manage the pathogens and prevent further spread. Shippers suffered similar revenue losses.
“I want to thank Asm. Rivas for helping secure $1 million in the state budget for this critical need. This funding will support the INSVV/PW Task Force and its efforts with local scientists to develop integrated pest management (IPM) methods to control these diseases,” said Mary Zischke, Grower Shipper Association INSV/PW Taskforce Facilitator.
This budget allocation will allow CDFA, through the existing California Leafy Greens Research Program, to provide grants to researchers, the University of California system, and others to study the impacts of INSV/PW and better understand how to end this epidemic. Any findings will help to mitigate the spread of the virus in Monterey County and help guide public policy in areas newly affected by the virus, such as the Coachella Valley.
Asm. Rivas wraps up the Central Coast leg of his second statewide agricultural tour today, where the Assemblymember met with a diverse group of local farmers, community groups, and stakeholders on a number of issues faced in the agriculture industry. On day one of the tour, Asm. Rivas joined California Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower, representatives from state agencies, and local community organizations in a press conference promoting farmworker labor rights, outreach, and advocacy. Next, Asm. Rivas met with the Monterey County Food Bank, which distributed over 34 million pounds of food during the pandemic. In Salinas, the Assemblymember learned about the transformative work of Big Sur Land Trust to repurpose 73-acres into a community park that includes restored and enhanced wetland. The day ended with Asm. Rivas touring a new USDA research facility under construction in East Salinas, which will bring increased capacity for agricultural research that supports local growers.
Day two of the Central Coast leg started with a local ranch visit to learn more about the challenges brought on by drought. Next, Asm. Rivas visited berry farms, including Driscoll’s in Santa Cruz County, to learn more about issues faced by that industry and their research to create better, tastier berry varieties. Finally, Asm. Rivas visited Pippin Orchards, an affordable housing development in Watsonville where more than half the residents are agricultural workers.
ASM. RIVAS’ AGRICULTURAL TOUR STATEWIDE ITINERARY
- Sept. 20-21: Central Coast – Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz counties
- Sept. 22-23: Central Valley – Bakersfield and Fresno
- Week of Oct. 25: Southern California – L.A., Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Orange counties
- Week of Nov. 1: Bay Area – Sonoma, San Francisco, East Bay
- Week of Nov. 15: Coachella Valley
Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) represents California’s 30th Assembly District, which includes all or portions of the cities and towns of Aromas, Big Sur, Chualar, Gilroy, Greenfield, Gonzales, Hollister, King City, Morgan Hill, Salinas, San Martin, San Juan Bautista, Soledad, Spreckels, and Watsonville