Vilsack sets $700-million program to help farm and meatpacking workers

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new $700 million grant program to provide direct financial relief to U.S. farm and meatpacking workers hit hard by Covid-19. But it was unclear whether undocumented immigrants, who make up roughly half of all farmworkers and nearly a quarter of meatpacking workers, would be eligible.

Oregon adopts heat safety rule to protect farm labor and other workers

In the wake of a heat wave blamed for the death of a farmworker, Oregon adopted an emergency rule on Thursday that guarantees workers rest breaks in the shade and plenty of cool water to drink during hot weather. Farmworker advocates called for the passage of federal protections against heat stress on the job.

For thousands of farmworkers, a dangerous — and now potentially deadly — commute

It’s 1 a.m. and the stars are out as hundreds of people shuffle slowly along the wall that forms the border with the U.S. in the small Mexican city of San Luis Río Colorado, Esther Honig reports in FERN's latest story produced with the Nation magazine. In heavy boots and wide-brimmed straw hats, almost everyone here is headed to work in the vegetable fields of Yuma County, Arizona. Bundled against the frigid November air in puffy coats and fleece blankets, they carry thermoses of hot coffee and mini coolers packed with breakfast and lunch, often small, tightly rolled meat burritos. The wait to get through the small port of entry averages two hours but on some days can take as many as four. (No paywall)

Feinstein to push farmworker bill in Senate

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she will work with fellow senators to give legal status to undocumented farmworkers and streamline the H-2A visa system for agricultural guestworkers. "It's time to give farmers the help they need and protect the essential workers who work hard to put food on our tables," said Feinstein, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Advocates fear canceling Farm Labor Survey is first step in gutting guest farmworker protections

Farmworker advocates fear the USDA’s decision last month to cancel the Farm Labor Survey is a step toward dismantling the already modest protections for agricultural guestworkers under the H-2A visa program in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.(No paywall)

Farmworkers on the front lines of coronavirus and wildfires

Few farmworkers in Oregon report getting tested for the coronavirus despite knowing infected people or being directly exposed to Covid-19, according to a survey of 200 workers across the state. And unprecedented wildfires are only make things worse.

Few states release data about Covid-19 in the food system

Over the past six months, Covid-19 has spread rapidly through the workforces of farms, food processing facilities, and meatpacking plants in nearly every state, infecting tens of thousands. Yet determining the exact number of workers who have contracted or died from the virus is virtually impossible, because few states are publicly reporting case and death data in the food and farm sectors.(No paywall)

As Covid-19 cases spike, an unprecedented alliance races to protect California farmworkers

An outbreak of the novel coronavirus among farmworkers in California's Salinas Valley spawned a coalition of former adversaries that is racing to safeguard both the workers and the farms where they work, as Liza Gross reports in FERN's latest story, published with Univision.(No paywall)

Farmworkers win rate hike from Driscoll’s supplier after walkout, petition

Farmworkers at a supplier for Driscoll’s, the largest berry distributor in the world, won a raise earlier this month — as well as some Covid-19 safety measures — following a series of actions demanding better pay and working conditions.(No paywall)