Most Americans are lucky to wake up to a fresh cup of coffee every day and a delicious hot meal. While we enjoy the food on our tables, over 2 million agricultural workers are out in the fields early in the morning harvesting produce under extreme weather conditions, exposure to pesticide residues, valley fever, green tobacco sickness, and more.
The food we consume comes with a human cost. And I’m not referring to wages, but the many disparities farmworkers face. It is no surprise that farmworkers are some of the lowest-paid workers in the entire U.S. labor market. A blog published by USDA Economic Research Service stated that hired farmworkers make up less than 1 percent of all U.S. wage and salary workers, but they play an essential role in U.S. agriculture.
Without healthy and safe farmworkers, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the food we consume daily. Also, farmworkers face other systematic inequalities due to their legal status, such as lack of access to health benefits, paid sick days, paid overtime, fear of whistleblowing due to retaliation, substandard migrant housing, lack of education, lack of transportation, sexual abuse, lower wages, and many more issues.
According to the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) there are approximately 630,000 farmworkers women in the United States, making up 24% of the farmworker population. Also, farmworker women don’t just suffer, like their male counterparts, from grueling hours in sweltering fields, performing rigorous, backbreaking, repetitive tasks, and are exposed to dangerous chemicals and hazardous equipment. Farmworker women also experience additional hardships and dangers that are often ignored: they face the additional dangers of sexual assaults and rape, the additional burden of childcare, cooking, and cleaning, all while having seemingly very little power to speak up to protect themselves.
As the week begins, AFOP Health & Safety Programs will be hosting hold its annual National Farmworker Women’s Health Week from May 9-15. This week, we will host a social media awareness campaign to shine a light on farmworkers’ health disparities, with a special focus on farmworker women. In addition, through AFOP’s National Farmworker Training Program (NFTP), we will be conducting various pesticide safety training, including Limiting [Pesticide] Exposure Around Families (LEAF), and Pesticide Exposure & Pregnancy (PEP).
During this week we invite you to join us raise awareness by:
· Following on social media and share our daily posts
· Attending on May 12 at 3:30 pm (EST) our Instagram Live on Three Ways You Can Advocate for Farmworker Women’s Health
· Asking your congressperson to pass the immigration reform for a citizen path for all farmworkers
Until better work conditions are provided and fair laws are passed, AFOP will continue to fight for farmworker’s rights to a safe and healthy workplace and life.
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