Santa Maria farms laying off 878 workers

February 6, 2016

Strawberry farm

By John Lindt, publisher of Sierra2theSea

Some strawberry fields are not forever.

El Dorado Berry Farms, a family owned and operated farming company which has grown its own strawberries and raspberries in California for more than eight years, permanently closed down its operations in Santa Maria and Los Alamos “due to economic reasons,” according to a press release.

Owner Humberto Candelario leased land and farmed with partner Reiter Affiliated Companies. They grow berries for Driscoll.

“Recently, notices were sent under the WARN Act which indicated 653 individuals were laid off from our farming operation. For clarity, 16 percent of the notices went to individuals laid off in Nov. and Dec. 2015, while the remaining 84 percent were employees who were laid off or who resigned at some earlier time during 2015, as part of the normal seasonal cycles.”

Candelario said weather played a role in the downturn in farming revenues this past year.

“El Dorado deeply regrets that the rising cost of resources has created a financial
situation in which it must close its Santa Barbara County operations,” the notice said. “Going forward, El Dorado will focus efforts on its berry operations at its permanent locations in Ventura County.”

Meanwhile, Superior Farming, another Santa Maria company and partner with Reiter Affiliated Companies, has filed a state mandated layoff notice as well with the loss of 225 jobs by March 1.

Together that adds up to 878 layoffs.

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Farming strawberries is an expensive endeavor. I’m glad for the time El Dorado could supply people with berries, and am sorry to see them go.

With all the water escrows going on, I smell farming new houses. It is no secret that the food can be grown elsewhere, for less money, regulations and especially when world fuel costs are at a low. So hold your left arm behind your back, hold you right arm to your side, point your hand out while you walk and now you are now ready for ready for the new people coming.

As the Beatles used to say ‘Strawberry Fields aren’t forever”.

You know the economy is in trouble when a business cannot even afford to keep it’s slave labor. Thankfully the government teet is ready with some suckling.

I wonder how much of the “slave labor” the tax dollar is supporting, housing, medical, school, prison, etc.

One of my best friends has several strawberry ranches, he stated that good pickers make in excess of $225 a day… slave labor you say?

How sad for the workers and their families and the company members. I hope all goes well for all of them. It is so hard to lose your job.

That will certainly help the crime rate.