AP STORY: Labor shortages, a new reality in agriculture?

Gosia Wozniacka AP STORIES

I’m usually a big skeptic when it comes to labor shortages in agriculture. I put on my reporter hat and ask: are these shortages real, or are they just slogans used by the agriculture industry to advance an agenda? I say this, because for years – for decades – the U.S. had been awash in farmworkers streaming in from Mexico. …

AP STORY: America at the Tipping Point

Gosia Wozniacka AP PHOTOS, AP STORIES, photos

After living for some time in Central California, America’s top farming region – where more than 250 different fruits and vegetables are grown! – you can’t help but notice the disparities and imbalance. On one side, the farmworkers, who often earn wages well below the poverty line – because farm labor is a seasonal occupation and because it pays little. …

AP STORY, AP PHOTOS: The farmworkers of 1986

Gosia Wozniacka AP PHOTOS

With the battle over the bipartisan “gang of eight” immigration bill heating up, I took a look at what the bill might do for farmworkers. While it’s hard to predict how workers will behave if given a path to citizenship faster than the rest of the undocumented population – but recent history offers a few interesting lessons. Just like the current …

Fall in the Valley

Gosia Wozniacka Uncategorized

Fall is coming to the San Joaquin Valley. Mornings are cool now, and I search for a shawl or sweater when I wake up. Evenings, too, have a softer edge. Darkness falls faster; it carries a touch of wind. Colors change. People, animals and land in the Valley heave a collective sigh of relief. The worst of the blistering, unforgiving …

In defense of silence

Gosia Wozniacka Uncategorized

People who have lived in the San Joaquin Valley for years, or those who were born here, say there are two drawbacks to Valley life: the heat and the air. I would add a third, noise. The dull rumble of air-conditioners, swamp coolers and fans fills every inhabitable space. It gives the constant sensation of being in a dentist’s chair …

STORY: Lawsuit, EPA fails on civil rights

Gosia Wozniacka Uncategorized

Kettleman City is a small, poor farmworking community along the I-5 corridor, somewhere between Stockton and Bakersfield. Population about 1,400, according to the 2010 census. The community lies next to one of the West’s biggest toxic waste dumps. It’s also been plagued by a rash of birth defects that activists contend are caused by a combination of elements, including the …

Fresno heat

Gosia Wozniacka Uncategorized

Hot, Fresno temperatures climb over 100 degrees F (40 C). The air is thick like custard, smothering. Heat squeezes into every hole, every corner. Cold water rushes warm from the sink, because pipes have been sun-burned. Shampoo squeezes hot from the bottle. Clothes gives off human warmth when you put them on in the morning, as if someone had worn …

STORY: California drought or PR mirage?

Gosia Wozniacka Uncategorized

When I first moved to the Central Valley nearly four months ago, I saw signs pronouncing a terrible drought everywhere I drove. The farmers and ag industry advocates bemoaned the lack of water and the injustices they faced. Yet, everywhere in the state, water was plentiful in the form of an above-average snowpack and heavy rains. New drought signs kept …