This week, we join farmworkers and farmworker advocates around the country in celebrating progress towards eliminating a long legacy of injustice. It’s National Farmworker Awareness week, and though a huge amount work remains, these are a few programs, organizations and policy wins to lift up and recognize as making strides towards creating a fair, just food system for all.
In October 2015, we celebrated with farmworker unions and advocates when a much-improved Worker Protection Standard (WPS) was approved. The WPS is the only federal rule that protects farmworkers from exposure to hazardous pesticides on the job, and hadn't been updated in more than 20 years.
Not surprisingly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that it is planning to put the new rules on hold.
Approximately every five years the U.S. Congress passes a multi-billion dollar set of policies collectively known as the Farm Bill — although it really should be called the “Food and Farm Bill” since about 80% of funds support food access and nutrition programs. Other policies include crop insurance and subsidies to large commodity crop growers (like corn and soybean), as well as a variety of small but vital supports to help new farmers get started. There are also programs to support family farmers implementing practices to better protect soil, water and pollinator resources.
In these troubled times I’m eager to find rays of hope. In the world of food and farming, one such glimmer is the growing recognition by gardeners and farmers, consumers and politicians that healthy soil is essential to our community and planetary well-being.
Scott Pruitt's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — in yet another subversion of justice — is bowing to industry interests to delay implementation of two 2015 rules designed to better protect farmworkers and their families from harmful pesticide exposure. How is that "protection?"
This Farmworker Awareness Week, please join me in celebrating the two million men and women who toil throughout the year, coast to coast in U.S. agricultural fields bringing a cornucopia to tables in this country and around the world.
After 15 long years of research and public input, the Environmental Protection Agnecy (EPA) finalized urgently needed improvements to the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) on September, 2015. With the political landscape now in flux, the agency is facing strong push-back from Big Ag representatives on these new farmworker protections.
In late September, California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released a draft plan for protecting schoolchildren in agricultural communities from drift-prone, health-harming pesticides. The agency's proposed pesticide use rules don't do nearly enough — luckily, some farmers are already doing much more.
In brief, these are the proposed new rules:
Regenerative agriculture can reverse climate change within our lifetime. That's the inspiring, well-documented message of longtime farmer and author Eric Toensmeier in his new book The Carbon Farming Solution.
Can the marketplace help reform the food system and bring justice to farmworkers? Yes it can. And it just did!