Latest News

Below are our latest news on important news and events relating to policy changes and issues affecting farmworkers and their families.

January 19, 2017

Farmworker Justice will recognize David Damian Figueroa with its Dolores Huerta Award Thursday, February 23, honoring his important contributions towards advancing  farmworkers’ quest for justice throughout his career in business and at nonprofit organizations.

Mr. Figueroa, an executive with Frontier Communications, was a farmworker as a child, and is one of the leading influencers in shaping Latina and Latino popular arts through his work in film, television, music production, and publicity. His role as an executive producer of the critically acclaimed documentary film Food Chains and associate producer of The Harvest/La Cosecha brought national attention to the conditions of farmworkers.  “David Damian Figueroa has never forgotten where he comes from and, more importantly, throughout his career, he has used  his remarkable skills and resourcefulness to elevate often marginalized voices,” said Bruce Goldstein, President of Farmworker Justice.

Farmworker Justice will also present a corporate social responsibility award to Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce for its successful efforts to engage with employees, farmworker organizations, and other agricultural stakeholders to improve food safety, wages and working conditions, and occupational safety.  “We greatly appreciate the opportunity the company has provided us to learn more about the business of farming and to collaborate on developing and promoting cutting-edge labor and environmental practices in agriculture.”  Headquartered in San Diego with operations in Watsonville and Oxnard, California, and in Mexico, the company grows strawberries, tomatoes and other crops.

The event will be held at Sheppard Mullin |333 S. Hope Street, Los Angeles from 6 to 8:30pm.

Host Committee:

Gilbert Vasquez       Vasquez & Co.

Alfred Fraijo, Jr.       Sheppard Mullin

Tony Salazar           McCormack Baron Salazar

Arturo Rodriguez    United Farm Workers

Andrea Bazan         El Puente Learning Center

Alex Nogales          National Hispanic Media Coalition

James Garrison      Pacific Federal

Rachel Garrison      

Craig McNamara    Sierra Orchards, Calif. State Board of Food & Agriculture

Dr. Alma Martinez

Special Guests:  Dolores Huerta, actor/producer Nicholas Gonzalez, and actor Johnny Ortiz

December 15, 2016

Farmworker Justice is pleased that the EPA has published important changes to regulations that govern the certification, training and supervision of individuals who apply high-risk pesticides. The Certification of Pesticide Applicators rule (40 CFR 171), which has not been updated in nearly 40 years, provides national competency standards for those who may purchase and apply ‘restricted use pesticides’ (RUPs). A pesticide is classified as restricted if it poses heightened risk to people or the environment.

The new rule imposes stricter standards to protect human health and the environment and reduce risk to those applying pesticides. Currently there is wide variance among state certification and training programs for pesticide applicators, and requirements for supervision of non-certified applicators. We are hopeful that the new national standards will provide greater consistency in the knowledge and competency of applicators across the nation. In addition, those who apply pesticides aerially or by fumigation will have to demonstrate competency to use these application methods which pose high risk to applicators, farmworkers, surrounding communities and the environment.

Many farmworkers applying RUPs are non-English speaking, non-certified applicators who are applying these chemicals “under the supervision” of certified applicators. These are the applicators whoare the most vulnerable to occupational injury from pesticide exposure. The vast majority are unable to read the application instructions and safety information printed on the pesticide labels, which are almost entirely in English. Although we are disappointed that the EPA does not require pesticide labels to have bilingual content, the revised rule requires supervisors to provide to non-certified applicators the label information about safety precautions and detailed use instructions in a manner and language that the non-certified applicator can understand. The revised rule also includes improved standards for supervision, establishes a minimum age of 18 for applicators, and requires non-certified applicators to receive pesticide handler and safety training in a language they understand.

We hope that the improved regulation will result in greater awareness by pesticide applicators of the risks they face, stronger protections from exposure, and ultimately, fewer pesticide-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths among farmworkers and their family members. Farmworker Justice will work with farmworkers to help them understand these changes and their right to a safe workplace and environment. We will also work with EPA to ensure timely implementation and strong enforcement of the new rule, and continued engagement with farmworker communities.

November 28, 2016

Most representatives of agricultural employers and farmworkers agree that immigration reform is desperately needed so that the hard-working, experienced agricultural workers who lack authorized immigration status have an opportunity to earn immigration status and a path to citizenship.

However, the article, “We’d better have a good door: Colorado farmers depend on immigrants to feed the country,” should not have accepted the one-sided viewpoint of some farmers about the H-2A agricultural guest-worker program. The reality is that the program is not all that difficult to use. It’s been around in one form or another for decades. It has certain wage and labor protections to prevent displacement of U.S. workers or undermining of their wages and minimize exploitation of vulnerable foreign workers. There is no limit to the number of H-2A visas each year, and the U.S. Department of Labor approves almost all employers’ applications.

The H-2A program protections should not be weakened and should be enforced more effectively. More importantly, undocumented farmworkers and their family members should be given a chance to obtain a green card and continue their work to feed our nation.

Bruce Goldstein, president, Farmworker Justice, a national advocacy organization for farmworkers