Page 7


Photo Courtesy of Muleshoe Journal Governor’s Office Unaware Farmworkers Stranded In Panhandle By Ruperto Garcia Austin WHEN MIGRANT WORKERS living in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and other parts of the state boarded up their homes and packed their belongings for their trip to the Texas Panhandle this year, like every other year, they expected only one thing work. With work, they could afford to buy clothes for their school children and for themselves, they could pay any overdue bills, they could save a little money for the coming year. They carried with them few other expectations. In the Panhandle, when the farmers planted their crops this year, like every other year, they too expected only one thing luck. With luck, rain would fall at the right time, hail wouldn’t fall at all, and the workers, both migrants and seasonal locals, would pick the crops or prepare them for a later harvest. The farmers could make a little money, pay off their loans, and get ready for next year. But this year in the Panhandle neither farmworkers nor farmers got what they wanted. Heavy rains in late spring washed away the first crop, and the second crop was just coming up when it was destroyed by ferocious hail. A photograph from Muleshoe’s Bailey County Journal provides mute evidence: corn stalks battered by hail stand separate from each other, looking like planted sticks in a field of water. Officials estimate $50 to $60 million in damage to cotton crops alone, and now it’s too late to plant a third crop. Much of the onion crop, though some of it was being picked in July, has rotted in the ground. Agricul tural experts have told Cong. Kent Hance of Lubbock that if the rest of the season goes better, three out of ten South Plains farmers will go out of business this year. “And if things don’t improve,” Hance told the Houston Post, “we may be looking at five or six out of ten.” Farmworkers too are suffering. Brian Craddock, head of research for Motivation, Education, and Training \(MET, 8,500 jobs have been lost in the 16 Panhandle counties he surveyed. \(Craddock, whose federally-funded organization provides job training and other services for agricultural workers, used U.S. Dept. of Agriculture figures and information from county agents along with past seasonal employment figures and past harvested acreage figures to arrive at his 10 JULY 23, 1982