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Challenges lie ahead for local farmers still dealing with the aftermath of recent storm

Farmers in the eastern Coachella Valley continue to assess the damage to their farms after a storm last Friday brought heavy rain and flooding to the area.

Adrian Zendejas is President of Desert Mist Farms, which is headquartered in Coachella. The company has over a thousand acres in Oasis, the majority of which sustained flood damage and erosion.

Rivera Ranch, off Ave. 82 and Johnson St. in Thermal, is one example out of a number of fields that Zendejas and other growers are still assessing before the full extent of the damage, and the cost to repair it, will be known.

"Some of these crops are probably going to be delayed. The cost of producing the crop is going to definitely increase. We already had most of our cost in the ground. Now we're going to redo it, so it's going to double our cost on some of these crops to get it to market," said Zendejas.

The effects of erosion won't just impact crops in the foreseeable future, but likely for years to come.

"You can't grow soil. Top soil is what we've been farming, what we've been managing. If that washed away, what are you going to use to replace it? You're going to have inferior soil thats left behind," explained Zendejas.

Desert Mist Farms produces red and green bell peppers, green beans, and white corn in the fall. Then in the winter the farm produces artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, spinach, Iceberg Lettuce, Romain Hearts, and mixed lettuce. In the spring, production shifts to watermelon, chilis, and more bell peppers.

Zendejas said the recent storm damage will impact the farm's production timeline, which could then impact crop distribution locally in the Coachella Valley, as well as across the country.

Unlike residents who have flood insurance to utilize to help offset some of the repair costs following flood damage, farmers pay for repairs out of pocket, according to Zendejas.

"There isn't, that I'm aware of, any federal money out here. There possibly could be down the road, but for now this is pretty much up to us to cover the cost of all our damage," explained Zendejas.

Watch News Channel 3 at 5:00 p.m. tonight for more on the story.

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Jennifer Franco

Jennifer Franco is the weekend anchor/weekday reporter for KESQ News Channel 3


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