USDA Announced $700 Million in Grant Funding for Farm and Farm Workers Impacted by COVID-19

(Washington, D.C.) – On September 7, 2021, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced that $700 million would be made available through the new Farm and Food Workers Relief (FFWR) program to assist farmworkers and food processing (including meatpacking) workers with COVID-19 related health/safety expenses. Of this amount, $20 million has been set aside for at least one pilot program to support grocery workers and explore options for reaching them in the future. 

“Throughout the Biden/Harris Administration, Farmworker Justice and allies have advocated for USDA to be more responsive to farmworkers – not just farmers/growers – and to address farmworker needs during the pandemic,” said Bruce Goldstein, President of Farmworker Justice. 

“Farmworkers have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, in part because they have been designated essential workers who have been expected to continue to work. Farmworkers also are very vulnerable because they are paid low wages, rarely receive employer-provided health insurance, often have geographic barriers to health care and other services, and, for many who are undocumented immigrants, fear that speaking up or seeking assistance will lead to deportation and the breakup of their families. The USDA grant program is a step in the right direction to recognize the challenges of the nation’s farmworkers, who continue to provide us with food for our tables.”

Farmworker Justice commends Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for this step toward addressing the needs of farmworkers and their families.

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Farmworker Justice is a national advocacy organization for farmworkers. FJ founded in 1981 is based in Washington, D.C. and collaborates with organizations throughout the country to empower farmworkers to improve their wages, working conditions, occupational safety, health immigration status and access to justice.  For more information visit the Farmworker Justice website at www.farmworkerjustice.org and follow on Twitter at @FarmwrkrJustice.

 

Media Contact: 

BA Snyder

Veritas Group for Farmworker Justice

512.630.6337

BA@TheVeritasWay.com

Lawsuit Decision Overturning Trump Regulation on Agricultural Guestworker Worker Program Wage Rates Takes Effect: H-2A Guestworker Program Wage Rates Increase Modestly for 2021

(Washington, D.C.) — Today, the U.S Department of Labor formally published the annual Adverse Effect Wage Rates for 2021, ending the Trump Administration’s attempt to slash wages under the H-2A agricultural guestworker program that would have caused an average of $178 million a year in lost wages for farmworkers over 10 years. Today’s publication resulted from a successful lawsuit filed against the Trump Administration.

Today’s publication of the Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWRs) for each state applies to all employers that obtain approval to hire temporary foreign agricultural workers on H-2A visas. The AEWRs are one of the minimum wage rates in the H-2A program, and is the one applicable to most H-2A program employers. The Trump Administration sought to change the methodology for setting the AEWRs, beginning with a two-year wage freeze. A court decision restored the longstanding methodology, which is based on a USDA wage survey of agricultural employers. On average across the nation, based on that survey, the AEWRs in 2021 are increasing by about 5% compared to 2020.    

The H-2A law prohibits the Labor Department from approving employers’ applications for guestworkers if the offered wage rates would “adversely affect” job opportunities or wages for U.S. farmworkers. 

The AEWR is the principal H-2A wage protection program, which the Labor Department sets for each state based on regional average hourly wage rates for field and livestock workers combined, as determined by the USDA Farm Labor Survey (FLS). This minimum wage applies to foreign and domestic farmworkers working for H-2A employers.  

The Labor Department has been using the FLS to set AEWRs for decades because it is a recognized measure of the current market rate wage for farmworkers. 

AEWRs for 2020 varied by state, averaging $13.99 per hour nationally. The average 2021 AEWR nationally will be $14.28 per hour — an increase that would have been voided by the Trump Administration’s planned wage freeze.  All states’ wage rates are increasing, helping farmworkers improve their living standards although they remain among the lowest-paid workers in the nation. The results for the five states with the highest number of H-2A workers are below:

 

State 2020 AEWR 2021 AEWR % Increase
Florida $11.71 $12.08 3.2%
Georgia  $11.71 $11.81 0.9%
Washington $15.83 $16.34 3.2%
California $14.77 $16.05 8.7%
North Carolina $12.67 $13.15 3.8%

 

In November 2020, the Trump Administration’s Department of Labor announced a new regulation under the H-2A agricultural guestworker program that would have changed the main wage rate protection for U.S. and foreign workers at agricultural employers that use the H-2A temporary foreign agricultural worker program. DOL’s announcement included a massive estimated annual “transfer” of $178 million per year on average from workers to employers resulting from this rule, and $1.68 billion over 10 years.  

The United Farm Workers (UFW) and the UFW Foundation, represented by Farmworker Justice and the law firm WilmerHale, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Labor Department’s Nov. 5, 2020, issuance of a new regulation that would have undermined wage protections for U.S. and temporary foreign workers under the H-2A program. The lawsuit resulted in a federal court issuing a preliminary injunction based on the unlawfulness of the wage freeze. 

“In the name of ‘predictability’ for employers, the Trump Administration wanted to allow businesses to hire an unlimited number of temporary foreign workers at below-market wage rates, in violation of the law’s prohibition against adverse effects on US workers’ wages caused by the hiring of guestworkers.” Farmworker Justice President Bruce Goldstein said. “Farmworker Justice is glad to see the modest but important increase in farmworker wages resulting from the successful lawsuit.  We remain committed to continuing to fight for fair wages for farmworkers, which are among the lowest of any occupation in the nation.  We will continue to pursue reforms of the H-2A guestworker program, which is rife with abuses, and immigration reform that grants undocumented farmworkers an opportunity for immigration status and citizenship.”

 

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Farmworker Justice is a national advocacy organization for farmworkers. FJ founded in 1981 is based in Washington, D.C. and collaborates with organizations throughout the country to empower farmworkers to improve their wages, working conditions, occupational safety, health immigration status and access to justice. For more information visit the Farmworker Justice website at www.farmworkerjustice.org and follow on Twitter at @FarmwrkrJustice.

Media Contact:

BA Snyder
Veritas Group for Farmworker Justice
512.630.6337
BA@TheVeritasWay.com

President Biden unveils comprehensive immigration reform on his first day in office

(Washington, D.C.) – Shortly after being sworn in, President Biden began working to fulfill one of his central campaign promises with his proposed immigration reform bill’s unveiling. If passed, this legislation would most notably grant an eight-year path to citizenship for most immigrants living in the U.S. without legal status as of January 1, 2021. The majority of immigrants could enter a five-year process to obtain permanent legal status, a green card, and could apply for citizenship three years later. Dreamers, TPS holders and farmworkers would be immediately eligible for green cards, provided certain conditions are met.  For farmworkers to obtain a green card, they would have to provide several years of recent agricultural work in the U.S. Three years later they would be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. Farmworkers’ immediate family members also would be eligible for immigration status.

In recognition that farmworkers continue to be denied the same employment-law rights as most other workers, certain changes to employment law would be made, including a phase-in of overtime pay.

The bill also provides for mechanisms to improve the employment verification process and protect workers from exploitation. If passed, this legislation would:

  • Require DHS and the Labor Department to create a commission with labor, employer and civil rights organizations to recommend improvements to the employer verification process.
  • Grant greater U visa relief to workers who suffer labor violations and cooperate with worker protection agencies.
  • Protect victims of workplace retaliation from deportation.
  • Increase penalties for employers who violate labor laws. 

Farmworker Justice supports the President’s efforts to improve the status and treatment of close to 11 million people who have sacrificed everything in their lives to make it to our borders and contribute to our economy and society. The majority of the nation’s 2.4 million farmworkers lack authorized immigration status and suffer greatly for it. The threat of arrest, deportation and family breakup deter most undocumented immigrant farmworkers from challenging illegal employment practices and often from seeking testing and medical assistance for COVID-19.  

“After the last four years of an Administration intent on terrorizing and scapegoating immigrants, it is encouraging to see an Administration prioritizing the wellbeing of the people who put food on our tables,” said Bruce Goldstein, President of Farmworker Justice. ““We welcome the President’s recognition of farmworkers as the essential workers they are in our food and agriculture system and the need to provide undocumented immigrants with the opportunity for immigration status and citizenship,” he added.  “Farmworker Justice will continue its longstanding efforts to help farmworkers reform our broken immigration system and achieve a greater measure of justice in their workplaces.”  

Immigration reform will help farmworkers feel secure enough to request well-deserved wage increases, fringe benefits, and improved working conditions and to seek legal action for illegal employment practices.  This will lead to a much more stable agricultural workforce, which benefits agriculture businesses and ensures greater food security for this country. It is, frankly, the first step of many needed to rectify the treatment farmworkers have received during this pandemic. 

Farmworker Justice stands ready to work with the Biden / Harris administration to provide much-needed assistance to farmworkers, not only on immigration reform, but also on health care, labor conditions, housing and protections against COVID-19.

 

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Farmworker Justice is a national advocacy organization for farmworkers. FJ founded in 1981 is based in Washington, D.C. and collaborates with organizations throughout the country to empower farmworkers to improve their wages, working conditions, occupational safety, health immigration status and access to justice.  For more information visit the Farmworker Justice website at www.farmworkerjustice.org and follow on Twitter at @FarmwrkrJustice.

Media Contact:

BA Snyder
Veritas Group for Farmworker Justice
512.630.6337
BA@TheVeritasWay.com

Federal Court Grants Farmworker Groups an Injunction Against U.S. Department of Labor’s Decision to Freeze Wages Under the H-2A Guestworker Program

(Washington, D.C.)  On Wednesday, a federal court in California enjoined the U.S. Department of Labor’s decision to freeze, and effectively lower, several hundred thousand farmworkers’ wages employed at farms that use the H-2A agricultural guestworker program. A preliminary injunction was issued by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd in Fresno in a lawsuit filed by the United Farm Workers (UFW) and the UFW Foundation, represented by Farmworker Justice and the law firm WilmerHale. The new regulation was set to take effect on December 21 and regulate wage rates beginning in January 2021.  

In announcing the new regulation, DOL estimated that nationwide H-2A guestworkers would suffer wage losses of $57 million in 2021, $139 million in 2022 and an average of $170 million annually over ten years. DOL also admitted that U.S. farmworkers (i.e., non-H-2A workers) would suffer wage losses, but made no estimates of how much those losses would be.  

The H-2A agricultural guestworker program, which allows employers to hire foreign workers on temporary visas for seasonal jobs, has been expanding rapidly in recent years.  In fiscal year 2020, the DOL approved over 275,000 H-2A positions and the State Department issued more than 204,000 H-2A visas in 2019.    

The H-2A law prohibits the DOL from approving employers’ applications for guestworkers if the wage rates offered would “adversely affect” the job opportunities or wage rates of U.S. farmworkers. The principal H-2A wage protection is the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR), which DOL had been setting for each state based on regional average hourly wage rates for field and livestock workers combined, as determined by the USDA Farm Labor Survey (FLS).  This minimum wage applies to both foreign and domestic farmworkers working for H-2A employers. The DOL has been using the USDA FLS to set the H-2A AEWRs for decades because it is a measure of the current market rate wage for farmworkers.  

In a related case, the United Farm Workers and the UFW Foundation sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture for its September 30 decision cancelling the FLS and the corresponding annual Farm Labor Report on which the AEWR is based.  On October 28, Judge Drozd issued a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction prohibiting the USDA from cancelling the FLS and the annual Farm Labor Report.  In the new case against the DOL, the court noted that the USDA data will now be available to continue the former regulation’s methodology.  

The 2020 AEWRS vary by state, averaging $13.99 per hour. The AEWRs have been increasing modestly in most states in recent years based on the USDA FLS results; data for the first half of FY2020 show the rates rising by 3% from the previous year. 

The new regulation would freeze wages for 2021 and 2022 at the 2020 AEWRs (which are based on 2019 FLS wage data).  In 2023 and later years, DOL would adjust the 2020 rates by using DOL’s more general Employment Cost Index (ECI) instead of the FLS.  DOL acknowledged that ECI, a broad measure of labor wages that excludes the agriculture industry, has been rising more slowly than farmworkers’ wages.  In justifying its decision, DOL said the wage freeze would create stability and predictability for agricultural employers regarding wages.

The court ruled that the DOL’s new regulation violates the federal Administrative Procedure Act in several ways, including, by failing to comply with the legal requirement to prohibit adverse effects to farmworkers’ wages, and by selecting wage-setting methodologies that bear no relation to the farm labor market.  The court also held that the DOL violated the APA by failing to give the public notice and an opportunity for comment on its new methodology for calculating wages, which was not previewed in the preliminary rule published in July 2019. 

Because USDA had sought to cancel the FLS, the data necessary to determine the 2021 AEWR will be delayed until February 11.  In its decision to enjoin the DOL regulation, the court asked the parties to address how to prevent wage losses for farmworkers during the delay. 

Farmworkers’ wages are among the lowest of any occupation in the nation.  About one-third of farmworker households’ incomes fall below the poverty line. In the last few years, farmworkers’ wages have been rising modestly.  Judge Drozd concluded that farmworkers would be seriously and irreparably harmed in the absence of an injunction.

“We are very pleased that the court entered a preliminary injunction against the unjustified decision by Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia to lower wage rates of several hundred thousand farmworkers.  Secretary Scalia’s decision to freeze farmworkers’ wage rates for two years is an utterly arbitrary and unlawful act that inflicts grave harm to some of the most vulnerable workers in the nation,” said Bruce Goldstein, president of Farmworker Justice, and one of the attorneys in both lawsuits. 

Click here for more information regarding the DOL’s November decision on H-2A Guestworker wage-rates. Information about the H-2A program is available on our website resource center at https://www.farmworkerjustice.org/resources/h-2a.

 

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Farmworker Justice is a national advocacy organization for farmworkers. FJ founded in 1981 is based in Washington, D.C. and collaborates with organizations throughout the country to empower farmworkers to improve their wages, working conditions, occupational safety, health immigration status and access to justice.  For more information visit the Farmworker Justice website at www.farmworkerjustice.org and follow on Twitter at @FarmwrkrJustice.

 

Media Contact: 

BA Snyder
Veritas Group for Farmworker Justice
512.630.6337
BA@TheVeritasWay.com

Eva Longoria se une a Farmworker Justice para las festividades

Washington, D.C.- En esta temporada navideña, Eva Longoria y Farmworker Justice se unen para destacar el gran impacto que tienen los trabajadores agrícolas en la vida de todos los estadounidenses. Árboles de Navidad, rellenos, carnes asadas y pasteles de frutas son solo algunas de nuestras delicias navideñas favoritas que no estarían disponibles sin los miles de trabajadores agrícolas de este país.

“Este año ha sido difícil para todos, pero incluso antes del COVID-19, los trabajadores agrícolas trabajaban en condiciones difíciles por salarios inadecuados y estándares de seguridad en el lugar de trabajo insuficientes”, dijo Bruce Goldstein, presidente de Farmworker Justice. “La pandemia ha hecho que la vida de un trabajador agrícola sea mucho más difícil en los últimos 9 meses; se estima que 269,000 trabajadores agrícolas han contraído COVID-19 desde marzo. También continuaron trabajando durante los incendios forestales en California, exponiéndose a peligros aún mayores sin el equipo de protección personal adecuado”.

A pesar de estos obstáculos, los trabajadores agrícolas han persistido y, al hacerlo, han mantenido intacta nuestra cadena de suministro de alimentos. Farmworker Justice se ha mantenido firme junto a estos trabajadores, presentando demandas y presionando a los legisladores para que brinden a nuestros trabajadores agrícolas el alivio que necesitan y merecen.

“Los trabajadores agrícolas de Estados Unidos trabajan en algunas de las condiciones más opresivas y debemos apoyarlos a ellos y a las personas que luchan todos los días para mejorar sus vidas a través de la defensa y el sistema legal” dice Eva Longoria, actriz, productora y activista desde hace mucho tiempo en temas de inmigración.

Eva Longoria ha estado luchando apasionadamente por los derechos de los trabajadores agrícolas migrantes durante años, utilizando su plataforma para educar al público y recaudar fondos para las comunidades necesitadas. Produjo dos documentales, The Harvest (2010) y Food Chains (2014); The Harvest describe a tres niños trabajadores agrícolas durante las temporadas de cosecha y Food Chains profundiza en la campaña por salarios justos, centrándose en los trabajadores agrícolas en Immokalee, FL. Su trabajo de defensa la ha llevado a la Casa Blanca y al Congreso, donde ha abogado por cambios en el tratamiento de los inmigrantes en este país.

Vea su entrevista con el presidente de Farmworker Justice, Bruce Goldstein, sobre el estado de los trabajadores agrícolas durante el COVID-19 y el trabajo de Eva sobre el tema aquí.

Únase a Eva en esta temporada navideña y done a Farmworker Justice para que podamos continuar luchando para mejorar las vidas de las comunidades de trabajadores agrícolas de Estados Unidos.

Puede donar visitando https://www.farmworkerjustice.org/support-farmworker-justice/

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Farmworker Justice es una organización nacional de defensa para los trabajadores agrícolas. Fundada en 1981, Farmworker Justice tiene su sede en Washington, D.C. y colabora con organizaciones en todo el país para empoderar a los trabajadores agrícolas para mejorar sus salarios, condiciones de trabajo, seguridad ocupacional, estado migratorio, salud y acceso a la justicia.

Para obtener más información, visita nuestro sitio web www.farmworkerjustice.org y síguenos en Twitter @FarmwrkrJustice.

Contacto para medios

BA Snyder
Veritas Group para Farmworker Justice
512.630.6337
BA@TheVeritasWay.com

Eva Longoria joins Farmworker Justice for the holidays

Washington, D.C.- This holiday season, Eva Longoria and Farmworker Justice are coming together to highlight the vast impact farmworkers have on the lives of all Americans. Christmas trees, stuffings, roasted meats and fruit pies are just a few of our favorite holiday treats that wouldn’t be available without the thousands of farmworkers in this country.

“This year has been difficult for everybody but even before COVID-19, farmworkers worked in harsh conditions for inadequate wages and insufficient workplace safety standards.” said Bruce Goldstein, President of Farmworker Justice. “The pandemic has made the life of a farmworker much more difficult in the past 9 months; an estimated 269,000 farmworkers have contracted COVID-19 since March. They also continued to work through the wildfires in California, exposing themselves to even greater dangers without adequate PPE.”

Despite these obstacles, farmworkers have persisted and in doing so, they have kept our food supply chain intact. Farmworker Justice has stood firmly alongside these workers, filing lawsuits and pressing lawmakers to give our farmworkers the relief they need and deserve.

“America’s farmworkers work under some of the most oppressive conditions and we need to support them, and the folks that fight each and every day to improve their lives through advocacy and the legal system,” says Eva Longoria, actress, producer and a long time activist for immigration issues. 

Eva Longoria has been passionately fighting for the rights of migrant farmworkers for years, using her platform to educate the public and fundraise for communities in need. She produced two documentaries, The Harvest (2010) and Food Chains (2014); The Harvest profiles three child farm workers during the harvest seasons and Food Chains delves into the campaign for fair wages, focusing on the farmworkers in Immokalee, FL. Her advocacy work has brought her to the White House and Congress where she has advocated for changes to the treatment of immigrants in this country.

Watch her interview with Farmworker Justice President, Bruce Goldstein, regarding the status of farmworkers during COVID-19 and Eva’s work on the issue here

Join Eva this holiday season and donate to Farmworker Justice so that we may continue to fight to improve the lives of America’s farmworker communities. 

You can donate by visiting https://www.farmworkerjustice.org/support-farmworker-justice/ 

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Farmworker Justice is a national advocacy organization for farmworkers. Founded in 1981, Farmworker Justice is based in Washington, D.C. and collaborates with organizations throughout the country to empower farmworkers to improve their wages, working conditions, occupational safety, health immigration status and access to justice.

For more information visit the Farmworker Justice website at www.farmworkerjustice.org and follow on Twitter at @FarmwrkrJustice.

Media Contact: 

BA Snyder
Veritas Group for Farmworker Justice
512.630.6337
BA@TheVeritasWay.com

Eva Longoria joins Farmworker Justice for the Holidays

Join Eva Longoria Baston in supporting the mission of Farmworker Justice to advocate for our underserved essential workers.

This holiday season, we are incredibly grateful for farmworkers who feed America + provide the Christmas trees for our homes. Farmworkers face oppressive conditions in their living and working situations, limited health care access, and experience food insecurity.

https://www.farmworkerjustice.org/

#HandsThatFeedUs #SupportOurFarmworkers #DonateToGiveThanks

U.S. President-Elect, Joe Biden Nominates Tom Vilsack for Secretary of the Department of Agriculture

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)Farmworker Justice supports the President-elect’s nomination of former governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack for the next Secretary of Agriculture. Vilsack is the former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture who served under President Obama’s administration. 

Farmworker Justice worked with Tom Vilsack during his time in the previous administration. He was the first Secretary of Agriculture to welcome farmworkers into the building to hear their concerns, a significant departure from the past and from the current administration in which the USDA views agricultural employers, but not farmworkers, as key constituents. 

Former Secretary Vilsack named a plaza at the USDA headquarters after César Chávez, labor activist and leader of the United Farm Workers union. At the event, he described how being raised in an orphanage helped him recognize the “dignity of those who for far too long were orphaned in this country because they worked the land, picked our food, processed our food and packaged our food, sacrificing under extraordinary conditions.”

In 2016, in comments regarding a project to improve housing for farmworkers Vilsack praised farmworkers, many of whom are immigrants, saying,“America’s farmers, ranchers and the businesses supporting our rural communities depend on these hardworking individuals to ensure we remain a productive, food-secure nation.”

Farmworker Justice looks forward to working with Vilsack again to help farmworkers improve their living and working conditions, access to safe, healthy food and infrastructure in rural communities. “There is still much progress needed for farmworkers and their communities even before the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately harmed these essential workers,” said Farmworker Justice President, Bruce Goldstein.  

Farmworker Justice continues to actively follow President-elect Biden’s cabinet nomination process. Farmworker Justice Supports the U.S. President-Elect’s Nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas as Department of Homeland Security Secretary. We’ve expressed our views on President-elect Biden’s Nomination of California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, as Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services

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Farmworker Justice is a national advocacy organization for farmworkers. FJ founded in 1981 is based in Washington, D.C. and collaborates with organizations throughout the country to empower farmworkers to improve their wages, working conditions, occupational safety, health immigration status and access to justice.

For more information visit the Farmworker Justice website at www.farmworkerjustice.org and follow on Twitter at @FarmwrkrJustice.

 

Media Contact: 

BA Snyder
Veritas Group for Farmworker Justice
512.630.6337
BA@TheVeritasWay.com

Farmworkers Must Be Prioritized for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

(Washington, D.C.) – Federal, state and local governments and health care providers should place farmworker families among the highest priority for access to COVID-19 vaccines and make strenuous efforts to overcome barriers to access faced by farmworkers and their families.

Farmworkers have been designated essential workers and are expected to continue to work to ensure our nation’s food security and protect our economy. Farmworker communities are at the front lines of the pandemic, risking their health to ensure stability in the U.S. food supply chain. As low-income, rural, majority Latino communities, they are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic, an estimated 269,000 agricultural workers have contracted COVID. A recent study in the major agricultural production area of Monterey County, California found a 13% positivity rate among participating workers. 

Due to their working and living conditions, farmworkers are at substantially high risk of COVID exposure. In the fields, orchards, dairy farms, and produce packing houses, farmworkers must often work close to each other with limited access to protective equipment or sanitation supplies. Many farmworkers share transportation to and from the fields and, due to their low wages, often live in crowded, shared housing. Limited access to health care, inability to quarantine, and the lack of paid sick leave availability means that workers are more likely to work when COVID-19 positive. Unfortunately, many employers have failed to provide adequate workplace protections. Workers are also at higher risk for COVID-19 complications due to poor health outcomes, including diabetes and heart disease, among other chronic conditions.

For these reasons, it is imperative that farmworkers and their families are designated as high priority for vaccine distribution, immediately after health care workers and first responders. Vaccination strategies should be developed with farmworker communities, engaging farmworker organizations, community members, researchers, and agricultural employers to ensure widespread access and adoption. A comprehensive strategy must address the unique needs of farmworker communities and include outreach and education that is linguistically accessible and respectful of cultural values. 

Priority vaccine access is one crucial element to ensure farmworkers are able to stay healthy and continue their essential work. Other crucial elements include access to testing and treatment. Most importantly, due to their high risk of exposure at work, employers must implement workplace protections to limit COVID-19 transmission. Federal and state governments should mandate workplace protections and benefits to prevent COVID-19 and assist workers affected by the pandemic.

We rely on farmworkers for our food supply. We must prioritize their health and well-being as we aim to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Farmworker Justice is a national advocacy organization for farmworkers. FJ founded in 1981 is based in Washington, D.C. and collaborates with organizations throughout the country to empower farmworkers to improve their wages, working conditions, occupational safety, health immigration status and access to justice.

For more information visit the Farmworker Justice website at www.farmworkerjustice.org and follow on Twitter at @FarmwrkrJustice.

Media Contact: 

BA Snyder
Veritas Group for Farmworker Justice
512.630.6337
BA@TheVeritasWay.com

Farmworker Justice Statement on USDA and DHS Policy Announcement re H-2A Agricultural Guestworker Program: Flexibility for Employers and No Action to Protect Farmworkers from COVID-19 or Ensure Access to Testing or Health Care

The USDA and DHS today announced that agricultural employers that have received approval to hire guestworkers under the H-2A agricultural guestworker program will have flexibility to hire guestworkers already in the country even if they ordinarily would be required to go home after their previous H-2A employer’s job ended.  The announcement also said H-2A workers, who are supposed to fill jobs that are seasonal or temporary, could stay for longer periods of time if an H-2A program employer hires them.

Read moreFarmworker Justice Statement on USDA and DHS Policy Announcement re H-2A Agricultural Guestworker Program: Flexibility for Employers and No Action to Protect Farmworkers from COVID-19 or Ensure Access to Testing or Health Care