Wendell Barry once said “If you eat, you are involved in agriculture.” He was right.
Eating is an agricultural action. Every time we eat, we enjoy the fruits of farmworker labor. Every time we buy food, we pay farmworker wages. Every time we waste or throw away food, we are casting away the intense labor that it takes to coax each harvest from the ground.
In the U.S. there are over 2 million farm workers that labor between 8-14 hours every day under extreme weather conditions, exposed to dangerous chemicals, and targeted by discrimination. No matter how bad it gets, this humble population overcomes challenges each day to provide to their families – and in turn to put food on all of our plates. Their sacrifices are significant, while the rest of us enjoy the final product without a notion of the hard labor that goes into planting, harvesting and delivering that produce to the market.
Farmworkers play a critical – yet sometimes invisible – role in our lives. That’s why every year we celebrate National Farmworker Awareness Week (NFAW) during this last week of March. It is a celebration, and a way to honor and appreciate the millions of farmworkers that harvest our food.
For AFOP Health & Safety Programs it is an exciting week where we see many farmworker advocate organizations, communities, and individuals recognize all the contributions farmworkers make to our lives. AFOP’s staff has been celebrating NFAW for years, getting involved through the collection of long-sleeve shirts. Since 2013 we have collected and distributed 34,271 long-sleeve shirts among the farmworker community.
This year is no exception; we are committed to honoring and improving farmworker lives through our annual National Long-Sleeve Shirt Drive during this week: March 26-31. The shirts collected will be distributed among the farmworker community after pesticide safety training, heat stress trainings and other activities by AFOP Health and Safety’s nationwide trainer network.
Why long sleeve shirts?
Each year, an estimated 1 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to U.S. farms, forests, lawns and golf courses. Farmworkers face long hours of arduous work exposed to dangerous pesticides and heat. Pesticide applicators, farmers and farmworkers, and communities near farms are often most at risk of pesticide exposure and heat related illnesses. A long-sleeve shirt can help farmworkers mitigate exposure to pesticides and reduce their chances of suffering from heat related illnesses, thereby helping farmworkers have a healthy and safer life.
Although we at AFOP Health & Safety’s Washington D.C. office stack up our own shirt donations, we certainly have some help. With over 100 drop-off locations in 29 states from Oregon to Puerto Rico, you can help donate shirts to promote healthy practices the farmworker community no matter where you find yourself. Check drop-off locations HERE
Activities will be held across the nation this week. No matter where you are, check out the happenings in your community, put out a box to collect long-sleeve shirts with us, or create your own event. Let’s support the amazing farmworker community; remember, YOU are involved in agriculture.
Join us in taking action for those who feed us!