Hundreds of strawberry farmers to lose jobs by end of next month in Oxnard

OXNARD, Calif. (KABC) -- Mandalay Berry Farms announced that it will be permanently closing its operations at nine ranches in Oxnard, putting over 500 farmers out of work.

The strawberry industry has been declining.

"Strawberry industry has been struggling for the last few years. We had a high of 12,000 acres a few years ago. We're down to a little over 6,000 acres at this time," said Rob Roy, president of the Ventura County Agricultural Association.

As Mandalay Berry Farms shuts down operations, many of the employees have found work elsewhere. The property has already been leased by a new owner and is being prepped for the next strawberry season.

Local farming in California is being hit hard. Last week, vegetable grower Hiji Brothers Inc., also shut down, laying off around 260 employees.

"We're talking third generation farmers, the younger sons in charge of the company just could not see going forward in this type of business climate in California," Roy said.

Roy attributes much of California's declining agricultural state to increases in agricultural imports from overseas, Obamacare, the new $15 minimum wage and the prolonged drought.

"All in all, it's making California farmers and farmers in this particular county very uncompetitive," Roy said.
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