After a streak of abnormally cold winter weather caused more than one billion dollars in crop damage across the state last month, local politicians are now working on a disaster relief bill to provide aid to the agricultural industry workers affected by the freeze.

Congresswoman Lois Capps joined members of the California Farm Bureau Federation yesterday to draft legislation for a bill that would provide emergency financial assistance to agricultural employees in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. According to a Feb. 7 press release from Capps’ office, the bill will offer small business loans and short-term financial assistance to those affected by the cold bout.

Monetary aid provided by the legislation would be used to assist in covering the cost of the locally produced nursery and specialty crops destroyed by the cold weather, as well as trees, vines, livestock and dairy products.

The bill also calls for the allocation of unemployment assistance, food coupons, grants, temporary mortgage and rental assistance for low-income and seasonal farm workers, the press release said.

Capps said she will work hard to move the bill quickly through the federal legislature to provide disaster relief to the workers as soon as possible.

“The weather in California may be warming up, but the damage wrought by this freeze will be felt by our agriculture community and our local economy for months and even years,” Capps said in the press release. “We must take decisive and effective action to help those impacted by this disaster in their time of need.”

Capps also met with California Farm Bureau President Doug Mosebar yesterday to discuss federal-level disaster relief solutions for Santa Barbara-area agricultural workers.

Capps said Mosebar’s experience as a long-term resident of the Central Coast will help the two to join forces in their mutual efforts to provide disaster relief.

“We are working together to ensure that our growers, workers and businesses that have been harmed by the recent freeze receive the disaster aid they need to make a full recovery,” Capps said.