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Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Frontline Communities

Irma Medellin's picture

Guest blog: Standing up for Central Valley children

Pesticides are an everyday part life in our town. Sometimes we can see or smell the drifting chemicals, sometimes they are invisible. But we know they are there — especially in the fall when fields are fumigated, and this time of year when new plants are sprayed.

So I wasn't surprised when health officials released a report last week showing that children in our part of California — the Central Valley — are most likely to be in schools near pesticide-sprayed fields. We've been telling our stories for years, and unfortunately policymakers haven't heard us. As a mom, I'm very much hoping that maybe now we will see some change.

Irma Medellin
Judy Hatcher's picture

On the side of workers

At a funder conference I’m attending this week, we began by singing the venerable labor song, “Which side are you on?” I thought it was an especially appropriate choice because at PAN, we’re joining our allies around the world in reflecting on the intersections between worker’s rights, safety and public health.

This week, as we note both International Workers Memorial Day and May Day (International Workers Day across much of the world), I’m reminded of how important it is for all of us who care about the food system to take sides with the system’s workers.

Judy Hatcher
Margaret Reeves's picture

Celebrate & support farmworkers!

Happy Farmworker Awareness Week! Each year we celebrate this nationwide event by encouraging the PAN community to join us in a variety of actions, from lifting up stories from the field to supporting actions to protect the health of farmworkers and their families. Among the urgent challenge these workers face every day is exposure to harmful pesticides on the job.

Our food system depends on the labor of these more than two million workers, and they depend on our support! This year there’s a lot happening. Topping our list of action opportunities is the fact that EPA has finally proposed much-needed improvements in the national worker safety rules for farmworkers. It's about time!

Margaret Reeves
Margaret Reeves's picture

New farmworker rules: Better, but not good enough

Last week EPA released its proposal for long-awaited improvements in the federal worker protection standard (WPS). These are the rules designed to protect the nation’s nearly two million farmworkers from the hazards of pesticide exposure. While the proposed changes include many of the improvements we and other farmworker advocates have been pushing for, there's still a long way to go.

We'll be joining our partners to generate thousands of comments on the rules over the next few months, from diverse sectors across the country — stay tuned. Meanwhile, below is my initial take on the proposed changes, including what's good and what needs to be improved.

Margaret Reeves
Margaret Reeves's picture

Farmworkers, flowers & fairness

Each year we mark Valentine's Day by urging people to remember the workers who make those gorgeous bouquets of roses possible. I'm very pleased to report that this year, we're finally seeing some real progress toward safer conditions — and more protections from pesticides — for farmworkers across the country.

Just this week, 52 members of Congress sent a letter to EPA urging the agency to make sure that the long-awaited improvements in the federal Worker Protection Standard (WPS) are meaningful and promptly completed. So after you buy (or enjoy a gift of) cut flowers this week, keep an eye out here for upcoming opportunities to support better safety rules for the farmworkers who toiled to grow and harvest that bouquet.

Margaret Reeves
Margaret Reeves's picture

Powerful voices from the fields

Earlier this month, a group of farmworkers traveled from Florida and North Carolina to bring their very real-world concerns about pesticides to decisionmakers in DC. On the heels of their visits, we now hear that a long-awaited update of the rules designed to protect workers in the field is actually, finally moving forward.

The Worker Protection Standard — or WPS — is the one rule intended to protect farmworkers from pesticide exposure on the job. It first went into effect back in 1995 and has never been strengthened or updated, despite clear evidence that workers across the country are suffering health harms from exposure to hazardous chemicals on the job. Now it looks like improvements are finally in the works. And it's about time.

Margaret Reeves
Margaret Reeves's picture

Thanking farmworkers

A bountiful table surrounded by friends and family — that's how many of us celebrate Thanksgiving. So it makes sense that this week we pause and give thanks to the many people who make the celebration possible.

From the farmers who grow the food, to the workers who package and process it, to the millions of farmworkers who work extraordinarily hard to cultivate and harvest the crops that sustain us all, those all along the food chain deserve our thanks — and our support.

Margaret Reeves
Pesticide Action Network's picture

A call for dignity & respect

This Saturday, immigrants and their allies will be heading into the streets in cities across the country to "march for immigrant dignity and respect." And with a new bill in the House of Representatives, policymakers in the Capitol are a step closer to comprehensive immigration reform.

For many farmworkers, immigration reform is long-awaited and critically important. This weekend and beyond, farmworkers are "bringing the fight for immigration reform from Capitol Hill to the richest agricultural fields in the world."

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