Agriculture can be climate leader with ‘build back’ funding, says Vilsack
The farm sector would gain $27 billion for climate mitigation, including payments for planting cover crops, from the social welfare and climate change bill passed by the House, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Agriculture can lead the way in the fight on climate with climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices that sequester carbon, reduce emissions and create new and better market opportunities for producers."
Farmworker safety agency is needed in California, says report
The pandemic “simply became another life-threatening hazard” among many facing Indigenous farmworkers in California, said a report released on Monday. Based on surveys and interviews of more than 300 workers, the report called for the creation of a state agency dedicated to enforcing …
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.
House to begin work on immigration reform, piece by piece
The House will vote on two popular proposals for immigration reform this week, offering a pathway to citizenship for so-called Dreamers and offering legal status to undocumented farmworkers, said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. The ag labor bill would also streamline the H-2A visa for guestworkers.
With Trump rule, food-insecure immigrants have few options
The pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity for households across the country, but undocumented immigrants and mixed-status families have faced unique challenges. That’s in part because they’ve been excluded from the momentary salve of government relief efforts, from stimulus checks to enhanced unemployment benefits. But it also stems from the Trump administration’s hostile immigration policies and rhetoric — and notably the president’s changes to the “public charge” rule, which has led many to shy away even from benefits for which they are eligible. (No paywall)
Covid-19 spreading among Florida farmworkers
In the last several weeks, health workers in Immokalee, Florida, the nation’s tomato-growing capital, have detected an alarming spike in Covid-19 cases: an average of 24 new positives a day, reports Elizabeth Royte in FERN's latest story. (No paywall)
If farmworkers suffer a coronavirus outbreak, the nation’s food supply is at risk
In the coming weeks and months, tens of thousands of migrant farmworkers will arrive in agricultural centers across the nation, where they will live and work in conditions that are prime for a coronavirus outbreak. Yet despite the fact that these are the men and women Americans depend on to plant, tend, and harvest their food, "these workers and their advocates say that many of the farmers who employ them have provided virtually no information on how they can protect themselves, their co-workers, and their families from the coronavirus — creating the potential for a massive public-health and food-security crisis."(No paywall)
For Mexico’s migrant farmworkers, virus risk may be worth it for what they’ll earn in U.S.
The global pandemic feels distant to 31-year-old Manuel Alejandro Lopez Delgado in his town of some 4,000 people in the state of Sinaloa, along the Gulf of California. There’s been just one confirmed case of coronavirus in the state, and that was four hours away, in the city of Culiacan. But in the next two weeks, Lopez, along with three other workers from his town, will be traveling to the U.S. to work in Washington State. The three-day bus journey will take them to the epicenter of the Covid-19 crisis in America.(No paywall)
How climate change drives farmworker activism
From wildfires and drought to lost work days due to soaring temperatures, the changing climate is fast becoming another issue that farmworkers must contend with. One way they're doing that is by organizing, according to FERN's latest story, published with The Nation.(No paywall)
A Democrat appeals to conservative Republicans in farm country
In the heart of Iowa's rural 4th district, Democratic hopeful J.D. Scholten is making a bid for conservative Republican Steve King's congressional seat, appealing to farmer interests to win support for his campaign, according to FERN's latest story, by Brian Barth, produced in collaboration with Mother Jones. (No paywall)
Worker shortage brings big changes to California fields
As farmworkers become harder to find, California growers are providing better pay and benefits, attracting some U.S.-born workers. Still, experts say, mechanization will be the long-term answer.
House Judiciary chairman proposes year-round agricultural guest-worker program
The U.S. would scrap its much-criticized H-2A system of short-term visas for agricultural workers and replace it with an H-2C program that allows foreign laborers to stay in the country for up to three years under a bill filed by House Judiciary chairman Bob Goodlatte. The bill also would allow those laborers, for the first time, to work in dairies and processing plants. The committee is scheduled to vote on the bill on Wednesday, at a moment when lawmakers want to resolve the issue of "dreamers," youths brought illegally into the U.S. by their parents.
Farmworkers sue Monsanto in first-of-its-kind labor case
Two migrant farmworkers have filed a federal class action lawsuit against Monsanto, alleging that the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Agricultural Workers Protection Act while the workers were employed in Monsanto’s GMO seed corn fields.
Democratic platform boosts family farms, stewardship, clean energy
At its presidential convention opening today, the Democratic Party will adopt a platform that vows to support family farms, "provide a focused safety net" and encourage development of clean fuels. "We believe that in order to be effective in keeping our air and water clean and combatting climate change, we must enlist farmers as partners in promoting conservation and stewardship," says the 55-page draft.