YUMA, Ariz. (13 On Your Side) - A cold air mass sweeping through the northeast is having a huge impact on Yuma's 3 billion dollar agriculture industry, and that means you could be paying more for a head of lettuce at the supermarket. At one local grocery store, they are selling heads of lettuce for about 79 cents. over the next week, that price could nearly double for consumers. The loss of money for owners means they could have to cut hours for farm workers.
Janine Duron, Executive Director for C.I.T.A., says "the marketing drives the entire industry". She says the reason prices are falling is a lack of demand for lettuce.
"That person in 20 degree weather isn't thinking about buying lettuce for a salad. they still eat vegetable soups, but this cold still has a huge negative effect, and that trickles all the way down to the workers." says Duron. Also, most farm workers don't have access, or rights to safety net programs that can help them recover those lost wages. "They earn what they earn per hour, employer taxes and insurance are not taken out, because they are never entitled to any benefit, so there is no help for them." says Duron.
Despite the negative effects of harsh weather conditions, She says they wouldn't trade this opportunity for the world. "They're so grateful to be here, to have the opportunity to make more money here than they would in their country, if they would even make any money at all."
The cold snap in the northeast is expected to eventually lift out slowly over the next week.
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