Yuma takes measures to keep migrants from urinating in agriculture fields

Yuma is known as "America's salad bowl" for the amount of leafy greens grown in the border town. Farmers say migrants were using their fields as bathrooms.
Published: Aug. 14, 2023 at 7:00 PM MST
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YUMA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The Yuma area is known as “America’s salad bowl” for the amount of lettuce and leafy greens farmers there grow. Yuma County said migrants were using agriculture fields as bathrooms and contaminating the crops.

County supervisor Jonathan Lines says some farmers had a significant loss in crops. He said safety inspectors in Yuma inspect crops daily across the county. “You test immediately. You either have to destroy the crop or take other measures,” he said.

The problem dates back to January of 2022 when Yuma saw a spike in migrants crossing into the U.S. “When that happened, people grew impatient and decided they didn’t want to wait there and started walking into active harvesting situations,” said Lines.

He said farmers were finding human waste in their fields, causing food safety concerns. “The damages to the industry as a whole were somewhere in the neighborhood of half of a million dollars.”

Yuma County took matters into its own hands and paid for portable toilets and hand washing stations. Right now, they have 16 toilets and two washing stations along the border fence in Yuma, San Luis, and Morales Dam to keep people from going into the fields. “It’s also a humanitarian response, but it’s also a protection of our local ag industry,” said Lines.

To date, the county has spent about $80,000 on the project. Last year FEMA said they would pay back the county $120,000 over the next three years to cover the cost of maintenance and the restrooms, but they still haven’t received a check.

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