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$7 Million Grant Will Support Workers Laid Off From Farming Giant
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By Edward Smith
Published 1 month ago on
March 4, 2024

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EDD awards $7 million to two nonprofits to help Prima Wawona farmworkers who lost their jobs.

Assistance ranges from rental relief to help finding a job.

While Prima Wawona issued about 5,400 layoff notices, some experts say as many as 10,000 workers could be affected.


The California Employment Development Department awarded $7 million to La Cooperativa Campesina de California to help the thousands of farmworkers laid off after the largest stone fruit grower in the nation filed for bankruptcy.

Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) and state Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Merced) hosted a town hall meeting Monday for workers affected by the bankruptcy filing of the largest stone fruit grower in the nation.

“I understand the challenges and grief that occur when businesses close and families are displaced because of a plant closure,” Caballero said. “Agricultural workers are a vital part of our community and economy, and we need to do whatever we can to help.”

Rental Relief to Job Relocation

In January, Prima Wawona issued more than 5,400 layoff notices. Some experts believe, however, the number of jobs affected could reach 10,000.

A partnership between La Cooperativa Campesina and Proteus, Inc. — nonprofits providing worker resources, especially with farmworkers — will provide job transition services to laid-off workers.

That means help with job searches, resume building, job referrals, and access to a computer room. While workers go without pay, Proteus also provides support for housing, utilities, clothing, and food.

“At Proteus, Inc., we’re honored to stand alongside our farmworker family and be their trusted community resource during this difficult time,” said Michelle Engel-Silva, CEO of Proteus, Inc. “We offer a guiding hand and a compassionate ear to those in need. Whether it’s accessing our in-house services or connecting with our network of partner agencies, we’re here to ensure no one will have to face this challenge alone.”

Those needing services can contact Proteus, Inc. at (559) 733-5423.

Prima Wawona Includes Gerawan Farming

Prima Wawona filed for bankruptcy in October 2023. Investment fund Paine Schwartz Partner in 2019 brought together farming giants Wawona Farms and Gerawan Farming.

The farm has about 13,000 acres in Fresno and Tulare counties for sale, worth $231.9 million, according to bankruptcy documents.

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Edward Smith,
Multimedia Journalist
Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.

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