Diana Aguilera

Working outside in the heat is something many people in the Central Valley have to do on a daily basis. The hot weather is a concern especially for those who work in the valley’s fields. From 2000 to 2012 nearly 7,000 people were hospitalized in California for heat related illnesses and around 600 died. California now has the toughest workplace regulations when it comes to heat but there’s still a problem- accurately measuring internal body temperature.

It’s a typical Sunday in the town of Mendota, west of Fresno. Here, in the cantaloupe capital of the world, the majority of residents are farmworkers. As they unwind from working all day the Westside pool hall starts filling up. 

City councilmember Joseph Riofrio owns the pool hall. This place serves as a distraction and entertainment for many men farmworkers, who are often far away from family. But Riofrio says the isolation some people feel opens the door for another type of business.


A new study suggests that the Central Valley’s extreme heat is linked with increasing levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports.

A group of scientists say that in recent decades, heat waves in the Central Valley are more severe due to higher humidity and warmer night temperatures.

Roberto Mera with the Union of Concerned Scientists led the study.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Thousands of farmworkers travel all over the Central Valley on a daily basis to pick crops under some very hot weather. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports farmers now have to comply with new regulations to avoid heat illness and deaths among workers.

Farmer Joe Del Bosque, owner of Del Bosque Farms, knows what it’s like to work in the valley’s hot temperatures. He’s been doing it his whole life.

“I grew up with this kind of work by the time I was 10, 11-years-old I was actually picking melons,” Del Bosque says.

Funding Targets Farmworkers Hurt By The Drought

Jul 27, 2015
CA Dept of Water Resources

New state and federal funding will provide relief for farmworkers hurt by California's drought. The US Department of Labor is providing 18 million dollars, and the state is providing 7.5 million dollars. Lesley McClurg in Sacramento has more.

An estimated 18,000 people have lost their jobs because of the drought -- most of them in the Central Valley.

Marco Lizarrga: "What we call the ground zero of the drought. Mendotta and Firebaugh and those little farm towns that are the sources of the cantaloupes and the sources of other products have been heavily impacted."


The Smithsonian Institution is honoring California labor activist Dolores Huerta with a special exhibit opening next week. 

The National Portrait Gallery’s One Life series has honored 10 notable Americans everyone from Elvis Presley to Martin Luther King Jr. And now, Dolores Huerta.

The museum is honoring Huerta for her years of activism and her role in founding the United Farm Workers union with Cesar Chavez. Huerta is the first Latina in the series.

California Assembly Committee Passes Farm Worker Sexual Harassment Bill

Jun 25, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

  A California Assembly committee passed a bill Wednesday that would give the state the power to revoke the licenses of farm labor contractor’s if they hire supervisors who have sexually harassed workers.

Michael Marsh is an attorney for California Rural Legal Assistance. He says his office deals with complaints of sexual harassment and sexual assault on a regular basis.

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

When farmworker Jose Gonzalez Cardenas can’t find work, he heads to the Westside Pool Hall in Mendota. Planting has hardly begun in the Central Valley, but everyone here is talking about the state’s drought, and what it could mean for the growing season.

“If there’s no water, we’re not going to have work,” Gonzalez says in Spanish.

As the House and Senate continue to struggle to find common ground on the issue of immigration reform, one University of California, Berkeley professor is working to bring new insights into a significant group of undocumented immigrants here in California and throughout the west – those who pick the food we eat every day.

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

The almond harvest is well underway in Madera County.

Along a tree-lined, rural road, about a dozen Agriland employees are loading almonds into a huge elevator. The nuts will then be loaded into a truck. They will appear on the shelves as Blue Diamond-brand almonds, among others.