AFOP is an association of organizations who all do one thing: provide job training to farmworkers through the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP). In addition, they all have the option of participating in a training program that AFOP Health & Safety has developed in-house, called the National Farmworker Training Program (NFTP). Through NFTP, AFOP provides our members with the curricula and necessary materials for teaching farmworkers how to keep themselves safe from tractor rollovers, pesticide exposure, heat stress, and so much more. So far, 28 of our 52 members have opted in to NFTP.
We asked Jeffrey Lewis, AFOP’s president, what – in his opinion – are the benefits of participating in NFTP. This was his response:
In the PathStone programs I am responsible for, the answer is four-fold.
- Staff training – AFOP trains the staff who will be conducting the health and safety trainings in our state (called “train-the-trainer”). In our case, many are outreach staff and former participants. This training comes free of charge.
- Farmworkers and their families – Farmworkers benefit by learning how to reduce pesticide exposure and residue hazards, as well as the threat of heat-related illness, tractor rollovers, etc. Farmworkers and their families also benefit from the Long-Sleeved Shirt Drive. PathStone distributes the shirts at our Farmworker Appreciation initiatives: picnics with farm-donated foods, music, and soccer matches with farm-sponsored teams.
- Growers – The training services directly impact growers, enabling them to fulfill their responsibility of providing federally-mandated training every 12 months. PathStone works together with employers to ease access issues and improve the quality of life for those families and single people living in on-farm housing. We provide a valuable service to employers, families, and the staff who are required to meet enrollment goals.
- PathStone and other AFOP members – AFOP members benefit because they are able to expand our outreach efforts to agricultural employers and lay the groundwork for agricultural job upgrades. In addition, we are able to use the resources generated by NFTP to facilitate additional training and services for farmworkers and families.
In short, AFOP is a contributing partner to the success of NFJP staff and program outreach, and improved community understanding of the dangers associated with working in the fields. As with all of the choices you make, it is your level of commitment to the success of these programs that continues to keep them available.
Jeffrey Lewis has been the President of AFOP since 2016. He is also the Senior Vice President of Direct Services for PathStone Corporation in New York, Ohio, Vermont, and Puerto Rico.