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Virus pandemic causing trouble, worry for farmers across Borderland

EL PASO, Texas -- As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to send ripples across society, El Paso farmers are growing nervous about how it will slow their ability to grow crops.

That concern comes from a shortage of fertilizer and day laborers.

“I see it not only being a difficult couple of months but also a difficult year,” says Gil Jones, the manager of Valley Gin Company.

Cotton is El Paso’s second biggest export behind pecans and shares a crucial link top the dairy industry which is also being hurt by the pandemic.

“We sell the cotton seed to the dairies and they feed it to their cows," said Jones. "My customers are the dairies on my seed side and they are suffering financially and I worry that will continue to be a problem."

Despite practicing social distancing, a could may have developed at the El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1.

“I have had one employee that has been tested and we are awaiting results on that. He also was around 10 other employees so I had to send those 10 employees home so I am down 11 employees,” said Jesus Reyes of the water district.

And when it comes to getting enough farm hands, Mexican day laborers are considered "essential personnel" but farmers are seeing less and less of them crossing the border.

“This could be a big domino effect for our farmers like it is for any other business,” Reyes indicated.

Most pecan producers were fortunate in that they were able to secure their income for the year ahead, having already sold off their fall harvest, by the time the pandemic took effect.

Biz/Tech / Coronavirus Video / News / Video

Michael Gordon

Michael Gordon is an ABC-7 reporter who co-anchors Good Morning El Paso weekends.


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