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Farmworkers Rally and March for Immigrant and Worker Rights on May 1st

Defund Hate

The Farmworker Association of Florida helped organize a rally and march in Apopka and in Homestead on May 1st for worker and immigrant rights in solidarity with actions all around the country demanding just treatment and respect for immigrants and workers in the U.S. 

Dont Seperate Families

Working with Mi Familia Vota and Hope CommUnity Center in Apopka, over 300 community members and supporters gathered at a local park and marched to and around Apopka City Hall chanting “Sí, Se Puede” and “We Are Here to Stay.”  Speakers at the rally included representatives from Central Florida Jobs with Justice, Youth and Young Adult Network of National Farm Worker Ministry, Farmworker Self-Help, and Organize Florida, among others. 

Health Care for All   We are here to stay

In Homestead, FWAF worked with WeCount! to energize and turn out workers and supporters to raise their voices in opposition to the harsh tactics and anti-immigrant rhetoric of the new administration that is threatening to tear families apart and rend the fabric of the nation.  Too many families already have experienced the tragic heartbreak of detention and deportation that is separating children from their parents with gut-wrenching trauma.  

The actions on May 1st were to send a message and to galvanize support for upholding the “dignity and justice for all”, that is part of the pledge of these United States of America. 

Verdict of the Monsanto Tribunal Released on April 18, 2017. Violations of Human Rights and Right to Health Included.

Monsanto was accused of harming the environment and violating human rights and health on Tuesday (4/18) by an informal peoples tribunal led by five international judges. The tribunal was held over the course of two days at The Hague where the panel of judges heard testimonies from approximately 30 witnesses from across the globe. One of the questions presented to the judges asked their opinion on whether Monsanto was engaging in practices that violate the rights to safe food, high standards of health, and a safe environment.

MonsantoThe tribunal released the statement that “Monsanto’s activities and products caused damage to soil, water, and the environment more generally”. The tribunal went on further to directly urge international lawmakers to “precisely and clearly assert the protection of the environment and the crime of ecocide.” According to the tribunal, if ecocide was actually added into the letter of international law, facts in this report alone could land Monsanto with the International Crime Courts (ICC) jurisdiction.

Farmworkers need protection from the pesticides that are used in the fields, orchards, greenhouses, and groves across the country and around the world.  Transition away from intensive pesticide use to more sustainable and agroecological forms of agriculture is the only solution to protect human health and the environment.

Read more here

Peasants Rights, Human Rights! Advance toward UN Declaration on Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas!

April 17th is the International Day of Peasant's Struggle and the international farmers' movement La Via Campesina calls all its members and allies to mobilize! The Farmworker Association of Florida stands in solidarity and will be mobilizing all five offices for the day.

We mobilize April 17th because on this date in "1996, 19 peasants were killed when military police in the Amazonian State of Pará in Brazil attacked a large number of members of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) who were blockading a highway in order to demand agrarian reform.  La Via Campesina, then declared April 17th to be the International Day of Farmers' and Peasants' Struggle."

Conference of Agrarian Reform
Conference of Agrarian Reform: In defense of Life and Land!

This year, La Via Campesina wants "the world to know that peasants and other people working in rural areas have been working very hard for their rights. The rights of peasants initiative, which La Via Campesina started 17 years ago, now is in advanced process within the United Nations towards a Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. This declaration, if approved, will create an international legal instrument to protect the rights of and draw attention to the threats and discrimination suffered by peasants and other people working in rural areas."

Peasants Fight

A delegation from the Farmworker Association recently returned from trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico to strengthen our connections in the agroecology movement.  The group was hosted by Organizacion Boricua, and shared their experiences, stories of struggle, and their successes. Working side by side on a member's agroecological farm, it became clear that while contexts throughout the world differ, everywhere the struggle is one. So today we recognize this movement's resiliency, power, and the  work done to reinforce food sovereignty, the fight against climate change and the conservation of biodiversity; to fight for a genuine agrarian reform and a better protection against land-grabbing; continue to conserve, use, and exchange our seeds; and strengthen the solidarity among ourselves!

Dangerous Pesticide Threatens Farmworker Children Health in Recent EPA Decision

pesticides1

Two days before the annual celebration of the birthday of Cesar Chavez, the Environmental Protection Agency decided that farmworkers’ and children’s health can continue to be threatened by a harmful pesticide, while the agency continues its further study.  Chlorpyrifos, commonly known as Dursban and Lorsban, was banned for residential use some 17 years ago because studies showed it was harmful to children’s health.  Yet, chlorpyrifos continues to be used in agriculture, in spite of the fact that scientific studies of children exposed to the pesticide experience learning disabilities, ADHD, neurodevelopmental problems and even autism at much higher rates than the general population.  

In 2007, Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) petitioned EPA to ban the pesticide, yet its use has only increased over the past decade. The EPA’s own studies have determined that this pesticide at very low levels can cause irreparable harm and damage to children’s developing brains. Farmworker children are particularly at risk, since they are exposed to pesticide drift and to residues found in and around the home, in vehicles, on clothes and toys, even in their food. 

Last month’s EPA decision is being met by a fierce resistance by a coalition of organizations, which includes the Farmworker Association of Florida, and is led by attorneys at Earthjustice.  They are petitioning the 9th Circuit to “establish a 30-day deadline for EPA to act on its prior findings that chlorpyrifos is unsafe and to set other deadlines for the cancellation process for the chemical.” See the article here.

“EPA’s refusal to ban this dangerous pesticide is unconscionable,” said Patti Goldman, the Earthjustice managing attorney handling the case. “EPA is defying its legal obligation to protect children from unsafe pesticides. We will be going back and asking the court to order EPA to take action now, rather than in 5 more years.”

Read news stories here and here.
TAKE ACTION here.

National Farmworker Awareness Week

Please join us in celebrating the 18th annual National Farmworker Awareness Week (NFAW) from March 24-31, 2017! This is a week to raise awareness about farmworker conditions, honor their contributions to our communities and raise awareness of farmworker issues by holding events on college campuses and in the community! Every year, NFAW is planned to coincide with the birthday of American labor leader and civil rights activist, Cesar Chavez, born March 31, 1927.

FWAF March 2017
National Farmworker Awareness Week serves an important purpose for all of us. This week raises awareness about the irreplaceable value that farmworkers add to our lives and communities. The hard work of farmworkers puts food in our grocery stores, in our restaurants and on our tables! This week also raises awareness about the many injustices and appalling lack of federal and state protections for farmworkers, who are not only an economic powerhouse but are our family, friends and neighbors as well.
During this year’s celebration, Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF) is partnering with students at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, to organize several events on-campus designed to raise student awareness about farmworkers and the work of Farmworker Association of Florida. Events include an art exhibit, documentary showing followed by discussion, a farmer’s market, a farmworker bandana display, the opportunity for pro-farmworker and immigration emails to Senator Marco Rubio via a laptop station and the display of FWAF literature. Long sleeve t-shirt and monetary donations will also be collected for the benefit of FWAF.
Again, please join us in honoring farmworkers this upcoming week! Thank you and thank a farmworker!

RESISTANCE THAT TRANSFORMS AGRICULTURE FROM THE GRASSROOTS

In the current political climate, many of the things that we have worked for over the years and for decades are coming under attack.  The progress we have made and the wins we have collectively achieved may be reversed or undermined in the coming year, leaving farmworkers in our communities ever more vulnerable and at risk, not only to harsh living and working conditions, but to detention, deportation and family separation.   Fear and anxiety are affecting the way farmworkers are able to live their lives and this is affecting their health.  For many, the landscape of the future looks uncertain, if not bleak.  

through her eyes

Historically, farmworkers have had to push back against an agricultural system that exploits their labor and gives them little back in return.  Farmworker movements, organizations and unions have empowered workers to fight for better wages, working conditions, housing and health and safety.  But, conventional agriculture has grown ever larger and more powerful, as it relies on practices that exploit the environment and the workers who make our food supply possible.   

Resistance takes on a new form!  Hope comes in the form of communities resisting the dominant agriculture paradigm and putting power back in the hands of people.  A new report, just released last week by WhyHunger and entitled “Through Her Eyes” follows the work of organizations and individuals that are challenging our current agricultural system by promoting and adopting the principle of “food sovereignty.”  It portrays the “struggle for a new world order that centers [around] the rights of women to live freely and safely, and to lead in envisioning and crafting a world void of hunger and violence.”  

Two of the Farmworker Association of Florida’s women leaders, staff members and organizers are featured in the report, sharing their personal experiences as farmworkers and the movement for resistance against and transformation of the way we do agriculture in the United States.  Communities gain hope and dignity, empowerment and respect through a form of resistance that gives power back to the people.  Read the report here:

WhyHunger.org

Rollins College at Farmworker Association of Florida

report by Aidan McKean, Rollins College anthropology student
 
Rollins College at FWA F
 
The Farmworker Association of Florida Apopka office in the month of February was generous enough to lead not only one class but two separate groups that included the Rollins College (Winter Park, FL) classes of Environmental Justice, Applied Anthropology, and Global Cultures. With such a diverse group of students, the conversation not only discussed environmental issues of Lake Apopka, but also work inequality and social and environmental injustice.
 
The experience usually starts with first hand involvement with the farmworkers and their work at local nurseries and farms. Through this interaction, students experience for several hours the hard work that the men and women workers go through every day in order to make a living. It also became apparent the chemical usage at the nursery as several of us felt a strange tingling and numbing sensation in our hands. Afterwards everyone had a newfound respect for the farmworkers and the work they endure, but also realized the inequality they all face.

Following the nursery work, we all went back to the Farmworker Association office and met with a former farmworker of the Lake Apopka area, who had worked on the vegetable farms from the mid-1960s until the farms were closed by the state in 1998. She told us about her work in fields of cabbage, lettuce, and kale and how there were good days of quick work for an early end and bad days with lightning, muck storms, sunburns, snakes, and cold weather. The former farmworker also talked about being sprayed by planes with pesticides and getting rashes, as well as breathing problems from the chemicals, but how none of the farmworkers knew about the health issues that would arise from pesticide contact. Today this former worker deals with multiple health issues and lost many friends and family to lupus, stomach cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, and lung disease.
She finished her talk about “feeding America” and ending with “keep on fighting until I die.”
 
Jeannie Economos—the Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health Project Coordinator— gave us an impassioned talk on the history of Lake Apopka. The lake dealt with devastating pollution that resulted in fish kills; reproductive problems, endocrine disruption and birth defects among alligators; and a bird mortality incident that killed over a thousand birds. These severe impacts to the wildlife were linked to pesticides used on the farms, the 1979 Tower Chemical Company DDT spill into the lake, and other pollutants, such as raw sewage and citrus processing effluent that were dumped into the lake by the surrounding towns. However, no one investigated the health of the farmworkers who were exposed to the same pesticides every day. Instead the state bought out the farmland and put thousands of workers out of employment.
 
Photo ToxicTourKline.Newcombclasses 4
 
From this discussion, while driving around the lake, we continued the talk about the different hazardous areas around Lake Apopka and how the community is still seeing environmental injustice. Sites such as the Superfund area with hazardous barrels that contained pesticides, an ecotourism trail that has not provided jobs to displaced workers, two landfills in close proximity, and a medical waste incinerator that is located next to a playground.

At the end of a full day of working at the nursery, listening to a farmworker’s story, and touring around Lake Apopka, the entire experience was eye opening for many who had never heard of the issues farmworkers experience. Finally Jeannie Economos apologized to our entire group for the problems her generation has left to our generation to fix. This definitely resonated with many students, as they continued to talk about her final words on the car ride back to Rollins College.

Over 300 food and farm groups Urge Jeff Sessions to oppose agricultural mega- mergers

Expert Contacts:
Michele Colopy, Pollinator Stewardship Council, 832-727-9492, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Jeannie Economos, Farmworker Association of Florida, 407-886-5151, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Lisa Griffith, National Family Farm Coalition, 773-319-5838, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
                                                                 
Media Contacts:
Linda Wells, PAN, 563-940-1242, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Kate Colwell, Friends of the Earth, 202-222-0744, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Angela Huffman, Organization for Competitive Markets, 614-390-7552, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
                                        
Over 300 food and farm groups Urge Jeff Sessions to oppose agricultural mega- mergers
Call on new DOJ leader to put farmer, consumer, worker interests above corporations
(Washington, D.C.)— Nearly 325 farming, beekeeping, farmworker, religious, food safety, and conservation advocacy groups today urged the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct a thorough investigation into the proposed mergers of the world’s largest agrochemical and seed companies. Groups urged Jeff Sessions, the new Attorney General, to enjoin the mergers of Dow Chemical with DuPont, Monsanto with Bayer AG, and Syngenta with ChemChina on the grounds that they will drive up food and farming costs, threaten global food security, curtail innovation, threaten the health of farmworkers, and limit farmer choice. This letter comes on the heels of the Senate’s vote to confirm Senator Sessions to be the head of the Department of Justice. The letter was also delivered today to members of Congress and state attorneys general.

The letter points to the adverse and wide-ranging consequences of these mergers stating that, “Conglomerates of such massive scale, breadth and reach, such as those proposed by these mergers, pose a real risk to our economy, to our agricultural sector, to public health, to food security, to the environment and to the general health of the agricultural and food business climate. Dominance of this magnitude can pose both domestic and international consequences that would be irreversible, once set in motion.”

Farmers and their allies across the country implored the new Attorney General to block the merger.

"Farmers across the country know that these mergers will result in fewer options and higher prices for the inputs we rely on. Already, a third of what a farmer makes for a corn harvest goes to pay for the seed alone; in the end there is nothing left for the farm family. We’ve seen what happens when too few companies control too much of the market, and these mergers would only make a bad situation worse,” said Mike Weaver, president, Organization for Competitive Markets.

"The decline in the quality of plant breeding for conventional varieties and the corresponding increase in the use of crop chemicals will continue, as the merged companies narrow their interests yet further to a few number of products likely to bring in the greatest profit for those biotech companies. The past two decades have shown us that herbicide-resistant GMO seeds have been the favorite for companies like Monsanto, Dow and Syngenta because they boost the sale of pesticides, "said Aaron Lehman, a grain farmer and president of Iowa Farmers Union.

“These agrichemical company mergers would be harmful for our environment, farmers and the American public,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner, Friends of the Earth. “We call on Sessions to put the interests of the American people, workers and farmers above the interests of mega corporations and conduct an independent review process free of political interference.”

“These mergers will hurt honey bees and native pollinators by making it harder for farmers to secure diverse seeds  that are not coated in bee-killing pesticides or engineered to withstand multiple doses of herbicide applications,” said Michele Colopy, program director,  Pollinator Stewardship Council, a national group that representing beekeepers and beekeeping organizations.   “This merger makes it harder for farmers to gain access to the seeds they need to farm more sustainably. Seeds produced by a pesticide company may be engineered to cope with the pesticides, but honey bees cannot take increased pesticide exposure.”

 “These mergers pose an ever greater threat to the health, livelihoods and human rights of farmworkers who are on the front lines of toxic agricultural chemical exposure,” said Jeannie Economos, Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health Project Coordinator, Farmworker Association of Florida. “These proposed mergers only puts more power and influence on the side of agribusiness, which contributes to but does nothing to pay for the health impacts on families of the chemicals they produce.  People should not pay with their health and lives for the profits of these mega-corporations.”
"The concentrated corporate control of seed markets threatens farmers’ traditional practices of developing, saving and exchanging locally-adapted seed in the United States and around the world, practices that support the biological diversity and ecological resilience critical to addressing local and global food needs," said farmer Denise O'Brien, founder of Women's Food and Agriculture Network and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) North America board vice-president.

If all three deals were to close, the newly created companies would control nearly 70 percent of the world’s pesticide market, more than 61 percent of commercial seed sales and 80 percent of the U.S. corn-seed market.

“A Bayer AG-Monsanto company would control 70 percent of the Southeast cottonseed market, which would increase the price by over 18 percent. Soy and corn prices would also rise, putting farmers’ livelihoods at risk even more,” said Mississippi farmer Ben Burkett, National Family Farm Coalition president and Federation of Southern Cooperatives representative.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned Senator Sessions about his views on these mergers and his approach to anti-trust matters during his confirmation hearings. His answers were evasive and vague.

Groups expressed concern during the confirmation process that Senator Sessions would allow politics to interfere with the review of these mergers; especially given Donald Trump’s meeting with Bayer and Monsanto Executives in January and Trump’s appointment of Dow CEO Andrew Liveris to lead the American Manufacturers Council in December.

 

Read the letter to Jeff Sessions, Attorney General HERE.

Statement by the Farmworker Association of Florida

With the advent of a new administration in Washington, D.C., the Farmworker Association of Florida re-asserts its long-standing conviction and commitment to protect the dignity, civil liberties, and human rights of farmworkers and immigrants in Florida and around the country. We stand in solidarity with our Brothers and Sisters, including people of color, families in rural communities, those of diverse religious beliefs and sexual orientation, those living in environmental justice communities, as well as those experiencing discrimination and exploitation in the workplace based on their immigration status, gender, disability, or who are experiencing abuse based on who they are.


As it has throughout its history, FWAF continues to defend the most vulnerable in our communities against oppression and exploitation, even as we renew our defense of the natural environment against resource depletion and contamination. We recognize that we are one people dependent on a healthy and robust environment that sustains us all. Negative attacks and rhetoric serve only to divide us from one another. We affirm the need to protect, to heal and to resist any attempts to roll back decades of progress toward greater equality, diversity, justice and understanding in our country.
Following the precept of Martin Luther King, Jr., that “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” we call upon our members and sympathizers to stay vigilant and critical of policies, laws, and actions that could harm our communities. Going forward into this new era, we rally our courage and our strength, following the inspirational words of Cesar Chavez: “Sí, Se Puede!” “Yes, We Can”! Join us! We can do it together! And, together, we must!

 

Reflections on 2016

Building on the Past; Moving into the Future

As we approach the end of 2016 and look to the future in 2017, we reflect on the successes we have had this year and the challenges we face ahead.  We have seen progress on the plans for the implementation of the new EPA Worker Protection Standard (WPS) for improved health and safety for farmworkers.  Our agroecology program continues to expand and advance, even as we plan to break ground in January on a new community garden in Apopka.  Our Los Girasoles heat stress study begins its third year of studying the impacts of heat exposure on farmworkers’ health.  We continue to document cases of wage theft of workers, and our vocational rehabilitation program is doing important outreach to farmworkers in seven counties in Florida.   

During 2017, FWAF received the U.S. Food Sovereignty Award by the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance; the Steve Shore Catalyst Award from the East Coast Migrant Stream Forum; and FWAF co-founder, Tirso Moreno, was honored for his decades of work for justice for farmworkers by Farmworker Justice at their annual Wine and Jazz Fest in Washington, D.C.  Our staff members have held health fairs, conducted pesticide trainings for close to 500 farmworkers, and organized community cultural events at our offices in five areas of the state.  We are always busy at FWAF, and we expect 2017 to be no different.

Sadly, as we enter this new year, we may expect to see attacks on the new WPS regulations that took 20 years of hard work to finally revise and improve.   Anti-immigrant sentiment is at an all-time high, and programs to help the status of immigrant youth (DACA) may be dismantled, leaving families at risk of separation and deportation.  Already, we are hearing fears from many farmworkers, immigrants, low-income people of color, and children that they may be more at risk in the coming year than they have been in decades.  While we are deeply saddened at the negative rhetoric that is serving to create divisions, rather than build a community of one human family, we re-commit ourselves ever stronger to the struggle for social and environmental justice that defines our work and who we are as an organization and as a people.  Going forward into the new year, we rally our courage and our strength with the words that have inspired us for decadess, Sí, Se Puede!  Yes, We Can!  Join us!  We can do it together!  And, together, we must!

Thanks to all our allies, friends and supporters over the years!  Let’s lock hands together as we move into 2017.

FWAFGotFood

 

In Honor and Recognition of Geraldean Matthew

On Saturday, September 3, at about 8:30pm, the world lost a strong warrior in the struggle for social and environmental justice.  Geraldean Matthew transitioned peacefully from this world to the next, leaving behind a lasting legacy in the lives of the countless people whose lives she touched through her dedicated and unselfish work in and for her community for more than three decades.
 
Born in Belle Glade, Florida to a farmworker mother, Geraldean grew up as a young girl traveling the seasons up and down the east coast harvesting crops as varied as corn, cabbage, oranges, peppers and even Christmas trees in Southern Canada.  Eventually, her family settled in the agricultural town of Apopka, Florida, where she remembers working in the vegetable fields on what is Florida’s fourth largest lake. The Lake Apopka farmlands are infamous for being the site of bird deaths and alligator reproductive anomalies due to the extensive amount of fertilizers and pesticides applied to the crops.  Geraldean remembered being sprayed directly by pesticides and bringing home empty pesticide containers for various uses around the house – long before there were any regulations to train farmworkers about the dangers and health effects of pesticide exposure.
 
As a young woman in the late 1970s, Geraldean met the four courageous nuns who moved to Apopka and formed the Office for Farmworker Ministry to work with the largely African American and later Hispanic and Haitian communities in the area.  That was the beginning of Geraldean’s education about the issues of social injustice and her becoming engaged in what would become a life-long work of making a positive difference in her community.  Later, as a staff member of the Farmworker Association of Florida, Geraldean was known as fearless in her outreach to the HIV/AIDS community in Central Florida, leading the way into potentially dangerous environments if she knew there was someone in there who needed her help.
 
In the 1990s, when the Lake Apopka Farmworker Project was established at FWAF, Geraldean was at the forefront of efforts to help farmworkers displaced by the closing of the Lake Apopka farms to find re-training, new jobs, housing and assistance for their basic and immediate needs.  Oftentimes, thinking more of others than of herself, Geraldean woke early to transport people to jobs miles away and worked late into the night doing outreach and education. Later, in 2005, she was the co-coordinator, along with anthropologist Ron Habin, of the Lake Apopka Farmworker Environmental Health Survey, which sought to identify the health conditions in the community of former Lake Apopka farmworkers and their experiences of pesticide exposure, (see the video here). A decade later, she was most proud of the Lake Apopka Farmworker Memorial Quilt Project, which she helped inspire, and of the book Fed Up: The High Costs of Cheap Food, by author Dale Slongwhite, which captured the stories of some eleven former farmworkers and community members.
 
In the last year of her life, as Geraldean was suffering the consequences of multiple chronic illnesses likely related to decades of direct and generational exposure to organochlorine pesticides, Geraldean Matthew told Fed Up author that they had at least two or three more books yet to write together; that she had many more from a lifetime of stories that still needed to be told.  Sadly, those stories leave us along with Geraldean, as she moves on from this world to the next.  Still, those Geraldean leaves behind have a wealth of stories of their own from a vast treasure of memories of working alongside Geraldean for years – at rallies and demonstrations; lobbying to decision makers in the state capitol; going door-to-door conducting a health survey; testifying at meetings and conferences, including at the EPA; speaking to countless church, student and civic groups about her personal life and the conditions for farmworkers; outreaching to AIDS patients in crack houses and on the streets; organizing meetings and community events; and motivating and inspiring others to get involved.
 
Geraldean may be gone, but her spirit lives on in all whose lives she has touched and by leaving the world a better place for her having been in it.   We will miss you Geraldean.  You are now free of the suffering of this world.  May you be at peace and may your spirit soar free!

The Forefront Of Progress: California Passes Historic Legislation To Protect Farm Workers

By Arturo S. Rodríguez, President, United Farm Worker. Article taken from huffingtonpost.com
Photo our archives

This Labor Day the American worker has reason to be optimistic.

While a few short years ago a $15 minimum wage seemed like a moonshot, today municipalities and states across the country are standing with workers and adopting a minimum wage that will ultimately lift 35 million hard-working American families out of poverty.

Earlier this year, the Obama Administration expanded overtime pay protections to more than 4 million working Americans.

And in California we are on the cusp on progress that builds on what the President has accomplished and paves the way for reforms that have the potential to put millions of working Americans on a pathway to the middle class.

Last week, California lawmakers passed first-of-its-kind legislation that allows farm workers to get paid overtime like all other workers.

Right now - in 2016 - a Jim Crow-era federal law excludes professions like farm workers, maids and domestic workers from overtime. Professions almost exclusively held by people of color. The fact that 78 years later that law is still on the books, prohibiting farm workers from earning a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work, is reprehensible.

In 1938, it was passed to discriminate against people of color and all these years later it still discriminates, now predominately against Latino farm workers.

While we haven’t been able to change that law on the federal level due to Congressional inaction, states have the right to expand benefits. After decades of fighting to correct this injustice, we are close to righting an historic wrong.

The bill sponsored by California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez that recently passed would gradually raise overtime pay for farm workers, requiring time-and-a-half for more than 8 hours worked in a day or 40 hours worked in a week. Farm workers who work more than 12 hours a day would get double pay.

It means a hard working mother or father who rises before dawn in the summer heat or on a freezing winter’s day and gets home well after the kids are asleep will finally get the pay they deserve but have been denied.

This isn’t controversial - it’s just fair.

The legislation didn’t pass on its own. Hillary Clinton was the first national leader to advocate for the change, Obama Administration officials, including Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, have stood with us, as has Senator Dianne Feinstein and a diverse coalition of labor, immigrant, civil rights and social organizations.

Now the only remaining hurdle we have to clear to level the playing field for farm workers is Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.

If we can do it in California - the largest agriculture producer in the nation and the state that produces more than half of our nation’s fruits, vegetables, and nuts- it would be the latest example of the Golden State leading the nation in workers’ rights. It will yet again be a model for other states to follow.

Today, I’m proud to see our efforts bear fruit. As we celebrate Labor Day, farm workers in California rejoice the passing of this historic legislation. We’re almost there.

Together, we will continue to fight alongside our brothers and sisters as we work to open up a path to the middle class for farm workers and their families.

FWAF is honored as one of the two recipient of the eighth annual Food Sovereignty Prize

International Allies Challenge Corporate Control of the Food System and False Solutions of Biotechnology
Eighth Annual Food Sovereignty Prize
Honors Grassroots Organizations Calling Big Ag’s Bluff


SEATTLE, WA, August, 31 2016 – The US Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA) is pleased to announce the honorees of the eighth annual Food Sovereignty Prize: the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) and the Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF). The honorees were selected for their success in promoting food sovereignty, agroecology and social justice to ensure that all people have access to fresh, nutritious food produced in harmony with the planet.
Lauded as an alternative to the World Food Prize, the Food Sovereignty Prize champions real solutions to hunger and is recognized by social movements, activists and community-based organizations around the world. The 2016 honorees are strident in their resistance to the corporate control of our food system, including false solutions of biotechnology that damage the planet while exacerbating poverty and hunger. Their programs and policies support small-scale farmers and communities, build unified networks, and prioritize the leadership of food providers, including women, farmworkers, peasants, indigenous peoples and other marginalized communities within the system.
“Hunger is not a technical problem, it’s a political problem,” said John Peck, Executive Director of Family Farm Defenders and US Food Sovereignty Alliance member. “Small farmers have had the solution to hunger for millennia in agroecology and food sovereignty.”
“The Borlaug and Gates Foundations and multinational corporations like Monsanto promote biotechnology because they profit from it. Ask the millions of farmworkers, family farmers and family fishermen feeding their communities what they need and they will tell you: access to land, clean water and their own seeds,” noted Diana Robinson, Campaign and Education Coordinator at the Food Chain Workers Alliance and US Food Sovereignty Alliance member.
About the Honorees
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) was founded in 2008 by a group of activist networks and launched in Durban, South Africa, during the 2011 alternative people's climate summit, organized to counter the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference Of the Parties 17 talks (COP17). AFSA brings together organizations representing smallholder farmers, pastoralists and hunter/gatherers; indigenous peoples; youth, women and consumer networks; people of faith; and environmental activists from across Africa. Together they advocate for community rights and family farming, promote traditional knowledge systems, and protect natural resources. In the face of increased corporate agribusiness interests threatening their food systems, including massive land and water grabs, the criminalization of seed-saving practices, and false solutions to climate change such as so-called "Climate-Smart Agriculture", AFSA unites the people most impacted by these injustices to advance food sovereignty through agroecological practices, policy work and movement-building efforts.
Bern Guri, The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa’s Chairperson, noted, “Africa has a myriad of ways to feed her people and to keep her environment safe. However, a few international corporations from the global North have generated approaches strictly for their own profit by misleading our leaders and our people, stealing our seeds and culture, and destroying our environment.”
For AFSA it is clear that the way forward will allow food producers, supported by consumers, to take control of production systems and markets to provide healthy and nutritious food. Facing the many ecological, economic and social challenges in today’s world requires an urgent transition to agroecology to establish the ecologically sustainable, socially just and nutritious food systems of the future, and it can be done through the collective, inclusive and democratic co-generation of the knowledge held by farmers, consumers, researchers and African governments, who are meant to serve the interests of their (farming) populations.
The Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF), founded in 1986, has a long-standing mission to build power among farmworker and rural low-income communities to gain control over the social, political, workplace, economic, health and environmental justice issues affecting their lives. Their guiding vision is a social environment in which farmworkers are treated as equals, not exploited and deprived based on race, ethnicity, immigrant status, or socioeconomic status. As members of the world’s largest social movement, La Via Campesina, FWAF is building collective power and a unified force for providing better living and working conditions, as well as equity and justice for farmworker families and communities. This includes building leadership and activist skills among communities of color who are disproportionately affected by pesticide exposure/health problems, environmental contamination, racism, exploitation and political under-representation while lifting up women’s wisdom and leadership.
"Farmworker families pay the greatest price in the corporate food system of today. They work in fields of poison and exploitation so that people can easily access cheap foods,” explained Elvira Carvajal, Farmworker Association of Florida's Lead Organizer in Homestead, Florida. “We have a vision to bring together the community around the art of healing with good food and herbs, which is part of our
culture. We practice agroecology in the community by sharing the knowledge we bring from our grandparents, our mothers, our families, our ancestors. The meeting of cultures that happens in the gardens, where we grow our own food without chemicals, and sharing plants and traditions and knowledge across generations is a beautiful thing. I am proud of our own people practicing food and seed sovereignty."
US Food Sovereignty Alliance members Community to Community Development and Community Alliance for Global Justice will host the prize for the first time in the Northwest, welcoming the 2016 Honorees and Alliance partners from across the country to Seattle and Bellingham for several days of activities and actions. The prize ceremony will take place on Saturday, October 15th at 6pm at Town Hall at Eighth and Seneca in Seattle.
For event updates and more information about honorees visit www.foodsovereigntyprize.org, follow the Prize at facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyPrize and join the conversation on Twitter (#foodsovprize).
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About US Food Sovereignty Alliance
The US Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA) is a US-based alliance of food justice, anti-hunger, labor, environmental, faith-based and food producer groups that upholds the right to food as a basic human right and works to connect our local and national struggles to the international movement for food sovereignty. The Alliance works to end poverty, rebuild local food economies and assert democratic control over the food system, believing that all people have the right to healthy, culturally appropriate food produced in an ecologically sound manner. Learn more at usfoodsovereigntyalliance.org.

FWAF JOINS BLACK LIVES MATTER MARCH AND CANDLELIGHT VIGIL

The event began Sunday evening at Alonzo Williams Park in Apopka, Florida, where some 150 people gathered in historically Black and farmworker South Apopka to support the neighborhood Black Lives Matter March. Along with many local residents, all ages and races of people - carrying signs and wearing black clothing - stood together in solidarity with the nationwide movement to stop violence against the Black community.

The event began with speeches by various community leaders. The director of Moms Demand Action spoke passionately about getting her organization off the ground with a simple text message chain, reaching out to mothers to come together to work for gun sense for America.

Speaker Carrea Gunn spoke about her SHE’RO and HeRo program that, through using a holistic approach supported by a team of volunteer mental health counselors, empowers young teens, aged 12-18, to lead responsible and productive lives by discussing relevant issues affecting today’s youth.

Pastor Darrell Morgan proclaimed that it was a message from God that inspired him to become involved in the BLM movement, and a representative of Minister Louis Farrakhan brought the leader’s message that the community must look to its roots for strength, unity and empowerment.

Along with the Farmworker Association of Florida was a contingent of supporters from FWAF’s sister organization, the Hope CommUnity Center in Apopka.

Marchers made their way through the heart of the South Apopka chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “Hands Up; Don’t Shoot” along with other chants. The event culminated in a candle light vigil, where marchers stood in memory of all the Black lives lost due to systemic racism and all committed themselves to stomp out racism and discrimination against all our Black Brothers and Sisters.  

Solidarity With Victims & Their Families

[email protected],  
 
The horrific shooting at Pulse in Orlando has left us all reeling- and heartbroken. The Farmworker Association of Florida deplores this act of violence. Our community in Apopka has lost cousins, children, and fathers, some of our dear friends luckily escaped with minor injuries. We are all heartbroken and trying to work through the surreal feeling that this happened to our community, and that so many lives were lost or changed forever. 
 
We know  the shooting  happened during Pride Month, that there was Latinx Trans talent performing that night, and that the Muslim-American community is reeling from this tragedy along with the Latinx community.
 
This attack did not occur randomly; it was not aimed at the general public. It was aimed at latinx and queer people. 
 
"At moments like this, we are doubly affected. We reject attempts to perpetuate hatred against our LGBTQ communities as well as our Muslim communities. We ask all Americans to resist the forces of division and hatred, and to stand against homophobia as well as against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry."- Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity
 
Equality Florida  has further information on their page to access counseling and blood donation services.

Muchas gracias compañero Alfredo

Alfredo Bahena (Dic.  26, 1961-Abr. 18, 2004) es recordado por la Asociación Campesina de Florida y por su comunidad en Pierson, Florida; por su sinceridad, preocupación, dedicación y compromiso de toda la vida por mejorar las condiciones de trabajo y vida de las trabajadoras y los trabajadores agrícolas en su área y a través del estado. Como Coordinador de Salud y Seguridad de la Asociación Campesina de Florida, Alfredo llevó a cabo muchos entrenamientos de pesticidas y abogó por  mejorar las normas de salud y seguridad para los lugares de trabajo. También ayudó a personas y familias de la comunidad en temas relacionados con: derechos laborales, migración, vivienda, discriminación en las escuelas y lugares de trabajo y cuando hubo desastres naturales. Alfredo además ayudó a establecer la Unión de Crédito y una tienda de comida. Trabajó en colaboración con grupos locales de la comunidad y defendió los derechos de los y las inmigrantes en las reuniones y foros a través de Florida, a nivel nacional e internacional. Alfredo se ganó el respeto de los representantes de las agencias del gobierno y el amor de su comunidad.

Es por estas razones, en el 2004, los legisladores en Tallahassee honraron la memoria de Alfredo con una nueva ley de protección de los trabajadores agrícolas y sus familias a la cual dieron su nombre.


Muchas gracias compañero Alfredo

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