By: Melanie Forti, Program Director
This week we celebrate the National Farmworker Awareness Week. It’s a week to honor farmworkers as well as to shed light and create awareness about the issues farmworkers face daily. It is undeniable that farm work is truly hard work. Although agriculture ranks among the most dangerous jobs in the US, we can’t pass this week by without saying a big Thank You for all the hard work farmworkers do so we can eat every day.
Many of us face multiple issues in our lifetime. However farmworkers face multiple issues on a daily basis. The most common work and health related issues farmworkers face are due to pesticide exposure and working under extreme weather conditions. This may lead to suffering from different types cancer, ergonomic birth defects and learning disabilities, heat related illnesses, and much more. Other common work-related issues are harassment, intimidation, poverty, violation of rights, and at times wage theft. Unfortunately, many of these issues go unreported.
In addition to work-related issues, farmworkers have to deal with personal issues. Every year many farmworkers and their families barely survive on the average annual income of $15,000 – $17,000. Many of these families have 5 to 6 family members who are exposed to poor housing conditions, lack of access to clean water, sufficient food, healthcare, education. In addition, many farmworkers also worry about their immigration status.
In summary, being a farmworker is like being in an obstacle course, but daily. Even with all the issues farmworkers face, they never stop fighting. They cope with the problems and continue working to provide for their families in hopes they will have a brighter future.
Hopefully with AFOP’s National Farmworker Training Program we can continue providing health education on work-related hazards at farmworker camps and community spaces. Encourage farmworkers to report dangerous working conditions to the appointed government agencies. We strive to continue providing to each farmworker and their family member all of the right tools to have a healthier and safer life in hopes that they have a brighter future.