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Protecting Farmworker Children from Pesticide Exposure

By Joan Flocks, JD, MA, taken from PSR

In the United States, potentially carcinogenic pesticide exposures are subject to a net of protective regulations. But the population most in need of protection from hazardous exposures -  farmworker children – is falling through holes in that regulatory net.

According to the 2008-2009 Annual Report for the President’s Caner Panel, exposure to the pesticides approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for agricultural and non-agricultural use have been linked to Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma; multiple myeloma; soft tissue sarcoma; and cancers of the brain/central nervous system, breast, colon, lung, ovary, pancreas, kidney, testicle, and stomach.[1] In agricultural settings, those most at risk of direct dermal, oral, or inhalation exposure to pesticides are farmers, pesticide applicators, and farmworkers.

South Apopka Community Food Assessment

The Farmworker Association of Florida and the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council are pleased to release the South Apopka Community Food Assessment.  The report provides a broad overview of the local food system in South Apopka - the assets, the challenges, and the opportunities, as well as the barriers faced by low-income families in our area when it comes to accessing quality fresh produce.  The assessment spanned three years (2011-13), and engaged low-income community members, farmworkers, farmers, community organizations, food retailers and food-based programs, healthcare representatives, faith-based groups, the local credit union and community center, the local bus system, and local elected officials.  During that time, much data was gathered and many ideas were generated about how to increase families' fresh food consumption and healthy lifestyle choices, thereby positively impacting their health.    We look forward to collaborating with local partners to improve South Apopka's local food system!

Download Report

Stand with farmworkers!

Our food system depends on the labor of more than two million farmworkers across the country, and they depend on our support!

Join us in urging EPA to make their proposed new farmworker safety rules stronger and more effective. The proposed rules are open for public comment right now, and we need to stand with farmworkers for a safer, healthier workplace. Please sign on to the petition here!

Poor: No Longer a Four-Letter Word

Holly Baker of the Farmworker Association of Florida defines poverty this way: "Poverty is not only struggling to have the means to support the basic needs of your family, poverty is living each day feeling and knowing that you are unjustly judged by others and that you don't have an equal voice." (excerpt from the article)

Article by Luz Vega-Marquis (Read full article here)

What does it mean to be poor in America? Just as importantly, who decides how poverty is defined?
Let's start with the dictionary. According to the professional word-wranglers at Merriam-Webster, poverty is "The state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions."
Even in the supposedly neutral arena of dictionaries, poverty is defined as a lack of not merely money but status -- a personal failing rather than a social problem. This is poverty as defined from the outside, looking in.
Poverty as an experience -- the father who holds down two $7.25-an-hour jobs and rarely sees the family he works so hard to feed; the baby boomers facing spending their old age in poverty -- is glaringly absent from public discourse about poverty.
Words, however, do hold tremendous power to shape public attitudes and perception, and perception, in turn, shapes policy.

Help Farmworkers to protect againts pesticides!!

The two million farmworkers who labor to put food on our tables are about to get new protections against pesticides. By taking action now, you can help ensure that these protections are strong enough to do the job.
The protections are proposed by the EPA in improvements to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard, which hasn’t been upgraded since it was passed in 1992. However, the standard can be improved.
The proposed rule is in response to a 2011 petition from Earthjustice and our partners on behalf of several farmworker and public advocacy organizations requesting improved protections from pesticide exposure. Exposure to pesticides and their residues causes farmworkers to suffer more chemical-related injuries and illnesses than any other workforce nationwide.
Help improve these proposed standards by expressing your concerns—today—to the EPA.

New Seed Survey Report Highlights Privatization Concerns

The U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance today released A Preliminary Report on Seeds and Seeds Practices in the US in celebration of La Vía Campesina's International Day of Farmers’ and Peasants’ Struggles – April 17.

The Report is based on surveys of seed savers and seed advocates from around the United States. It documents who saves seeds, as well as why, where and which ones.

Confused about the labels on your food?

In recent years there has been a proliferation of social justice and fair trade market claims leading to consumer confusion. Consumers are bombarded with claims, many of which are not applied consistently, lack relevant meaning, or don not tell the whole story of a product or program. At the same time, many organizations and companies are making tremendous progress in setting standards for fair trade and social justice or implementing fair business practices. There is a danger that these legitimate programs and practices will become indistinguishable from false or misleading claims without a more objective consumer education and outreach campaign.
To address the need, the Domestic Fair Trade Association created an evaluation program using its own principles as criteria for distinguishing between claims. Thus far the DFTA has evaluated six prominent fair trade and social justice certification programs to better understand the current landscape facing consumers. Our hope is that these evaluations will help consumers identify programs that reflect the DFTA’s vision of just, healthy, and sustainable food system.

To view the evaluations please visit fairfacts

Happy Birthday !! Cesar Chavez

On March 31, in honor of the birthday of Cesar Chavez and culminating national Farmworker Awareness Week, representatives of the Farmworker Association of Florida, Central Florida Jobs With Justice, YAYA of the National Farm Worker Ministry, OUR Walmart, Organize Now and other local Central Florida organizations met with staff of the office of Florida Senator Bill Nelson in Orlando. In solidarity with actions around the country supported by the Food Chain Workers Alliance, the group raised up the issues of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 as well as expanding protections for farmworkers, including the importance of passing a comprehensive immigration reform.

The Senator's staff assured us that Senator Nelson is a cosponsor of the S. 84, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is aimed at closing the wage gap between men and women, and a cosponsor of the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, S. 1737, which would incrementally raise the minimum wage to $10.10 over two years and then index it to inflation and increase the minimum wage for tipped employees until it reaches 70 percent of the minimum wage for regular employees.

While farmworkers are excluded from minimum wage labor laws, the Farmworker Association of Florida stands in solidarity with our Brothers and Sisters in other occupations all along the food chain.  All workers deserve to make a living wage!  Farmworkers need the same wage protections afforded all other U.S. workers.  Together, Si, Se Puede!

Vote for our Campesinos' Gardens

 

TOP 50 GARDENS, Vote from April 1-April 21

The Campesinos’ Gardens, run by and for primarily farmworker families, were founded in the citrus-growing region of Fellsmere, Florida in 2010. Ironically, those who work to provide fresh food for the masses, are often unable to provide sufficient, quality produce for their own families. Utilizing city-owned lands, the gardens engage farmworker and other low-income families in meaningful sustainable agriculture efforts. The Campesinos’ Gardens’ two sites in Fellsmere reach more than 100 families annually with fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Local farmers’ markets enable the Gardens to reach additional community members with naturally-ripened, freshly-harvested produce. The model will be replicated this year in two additional farmworker communities – Pierson and Florida City. The Seeds of Change grant would be used to support youth education efforts, and to support infrastructure costs of expanding to two new areas, including purchase of tools, seeds, and fencing and irrigation supplies.

Farmworker Women Leaders Making Major Impact

farmworker women_we want rights(taken from latinorebels.com)

In observance of Women’s History Month, LatinoRebels.com is celebrating Latinas who are making a difference every day. Today, as a part of National Farmworker Awareness week, we honor some of the women who are leading the migrant women’s rights movement.

Farmworker women put food on our tables.  They plant, pick, and pack fruits and vegetables, among other crops and plants.  It is estimated that more than 600,000 women are responsible for feeding us. These women are often subject to poor and unsafe working conditions. They are often victims of wage theft, gender discrimination, including sexual harassment, and a range of other problems.

Often, a one-size-fits-all approach has been applied to efforts to improve conditions for farmworkers, with little attention paid to the unique issues that confront farmworker women as women workers

Kicking off National Farmworker Awareness Week

Kicking off National Farmworker Awareness Week on Monday, March 24th, and leading up to the national premiere of the new Cesar Chavez movie on March 28, two community-based Apopka organizations hosted the travelers and fasters that are part of the national Fast for Families tour as they make their way across the state of Florida.
The Farmworker Association of Florida and Hope CommUnity Center, noted for their extensive work on comprehensive immigration reform, including the DREAM Act for immigrant youth, and AgJOBS for farmworkers, showed their community-wide support for the message that the Fast is taking to our political leaders in Washington, D.C.  Their goal is to convince national law makers that the detentions, deportations, and separations of families must stop now, and that a fair and just solution to the immigration crisis must be reached this year.

We belong together

Women for Common Sense Immigration Reform. Take the pledge!

We are all better off when our communities are healthy and strong, we feel safe and our children can thrive. Women especially know the importance of coming together and wouldn’t be where we are without the help and support of the women in our lives—our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. We honor and celebrate our unique commitment to protecting families and giving equal opportunities and respect to women and girls. We also know that it’s not about what you look like or where you were born that makes you American. It’s how you live your life and what you do that defines you here in America.

"Pedaling for 20 Million Dreams"

Lake Worth, FL - Francisco Diaz, 41-year-old undocumented immigrant who lives in Homestead, got on his bike this past Sunday, March 2nd, and started "Pedaling for 20 Million Dreams" until he reaches Washington DC. Francisco will bring a pen to President Obama with the purpose of asking him to use his power and sign an executive order that stops deportations, echoing the campaign launched by the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, Mr. President, yes you can! Use the power of the pen!. He also seeks to ask Congress to pass Immigration Reform.

Sowing the seeds of a local food economy

Taken from W.K. Kellog Foundation

“I am happy to see the changes taking place from the ground up. Our community is using its farming knowledge to benefit our own families,” says Yolanda Gomez, community organizer and garden manager with the Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF). “I am proud of our accomplishments, and excited to see the garden project growing and involving young people. We are eating healthier and, in our own way, practicing food sovereignty.”

Farmworker Advocates Seek Stronger Pesticides Safeguard

Taken from Earthjustice.org

Among those who came to Capitol Hill to lobby for protections was Selena Zelaya, 18, a freshman at Seminal State College in Florida. She took time off from her busy schedule to visit the Hill twice, where she spoke to Florida congressional officers with her father Miguel about the harm her parents face from working as farmworkers.

Zelaya said the announcement was “great news” but cautioned that “any revisions or updates must be strong enough to protect farm workers." She continued:

It is important because many farm workers are being exposed to things they don't even know about and in some cases they don't see the importance of protections because they are not being trained every year. It means so much to my parents being farm workers for many years and having pesticides affect our family directly.

Selena Zelaya, with her father. (Photo by Matt Roth / Earthjustice)

Why does this issue matter? Because an estimated 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to crops annually in the United States. Our nation’s estimated 2.4 million farmworkers form the backbone of the U.S. agricultural economy and face the greatest threat from the health impacts of these chemicals.

Selena Zelaya, with her father Miguel, in Washington, D.C. (Matt Roth / Earthjustice)

Would You Want Your 12-Year-Old Child Picking Tobacco?

Taken from Fusion Net

You might think that the days were gone when elementary school kids would work long hours in the field picking crops, but that’s the reality at farms across the country.

The minimum age required for children to work in agriculture is 12 years old, but a Fusion investigation found kids as young as 8 and 10 years working in tobacco fields in North Carolina.

The presence of children in the agricultural sector isn’t a secret. Roughly 400,000 children work in agriculture every summer in the United States, according to The Association of Farmworker Opportunity Program.

Studies show these children face a high risk of dropping out of school, getting injured, or experiencing other serious health issues like heat exhaustion or green tobacco poisoning. Efforts to be better regulate the child labor have been pushed back by the farm lobby.

In this video, investigative reporter Rayner Ramirez visits the fields, talks to the young workers and their parents, and confronts farm industry officials about the persistence of child labor in agriculture.

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