The latest out of California: Supporting our communities
As California is one of the states in which PAN does on-the-ground campaign work, we send out regular updates on PAN’s and partners’ work in California and beyond — from pesticide-related science to opportunities to take action. If you’d like to receive these updates via email, sign up here.
Farmworker protections in the state budget: Recently, PAN submitted comments to the state Assembly and Senate budget subcommittees as they decide how to best support the people of California during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as how to move toward economic and social recovery. Our comments focused on the needs of farmworker communities in the short-term, and looking toward long-term economic and social recovery. Farmworkers are critical essential workers on the frontlines of producing and distributing food in the state. However, due to their economic, and often immigration status, they are facing a disproportionate level of risk from the current public health crisis. Our asks of the budget subcommittees focused on providing farmworkers with:
- Adequate personal protective equipment;
- Support for implementing social distancing in the fields and while in transit to work;
- Expanded healthcare access and testing for COVID-19;
- Safe, stable and affordable housing for farmworkers that allows for social distancing; and
- Stable access to key utilities (water, electricity, internet) and prohibition of late fees, charges and liens.
Ensuring food security for Californians: This week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced several initiatives to ensure Californians have access to healthy food while also supporting farmers during the COVID-19 crisis. New funding is set to expand the state’s Farm to Family program, which facilitates donations to food banks by farmers and ranchers. Further, critical expansions have been made to the CalFresh and EBT programs to combat food insecurity for low-income Californians at this time. Read more here.
National food system resources: Many of the groups who are on the frontlines of harmful impacts from industrial agriculture like pesticides are also on the frontlines of COVID-19 harm. Farmworkers, operators of small farms, food workers and Indigenous communities are all bearing the brunt of this crisis in different ways. PAN has collected some compelling food system resources, both for accessing immediate support and pushing for the longer term, systemic shifts needed.
Supporting our communities: As Californians move into our eighth week of sheltering in place, we are grateful that our state government is responding seriously and nimbly to this pandemic. At the same time, it’s clear that we need to do much more to protect those on the frontlines of harm from COVID-19. While workers deemed “essential” are working hard to keep needed services running, many of these workers do not have the option to stay home, or are experiencing employer pressure to show up to work even if they’re sick.
From farmworkers to grocery store employees, many workers have been paid less than a living wage for years, and are also likely to be on the frontlines of poverty and racism, and without healthcare or documentation.
We encourage you to join us in supporting one of the many food system groups that are organizing mutual aid funds in communities across California.
Below are a few of the initiatives that are bringing direct support to food system frontline communities. Many of these groups are longtime PAN partners, who are also deep in the longer-term work of building a healthy, thriving food system for all:
- California Family Farmer Emergency Fund (Community Alliance with Family Farmers)
- California BIPOC farmer direct relief fund (Farmer Mai Nguyen)
- Central Valley Mutual Aid Fund (Community Alliance for Agroecology)
- Mutual aid fund for undocumented workers, youth, LGBTQ folks and POC (ACT for Women and Girls in Tulare County)
- Funds for the Unemployed and Undocumented (Reyna Rodriguez)
- Center for Farmworker Families
- Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño/Binational Center for the Development of the Indigenous Communities
- UFW Mask Drive (United Farm Workers)
We encourage you to practice social distancing, but webinars and virtual meetings are a great way to stay connected! Check it out:
Pesticides and Health Webinar
Join the Ecology Center for this dive into pesticides of highest concern, where pesticides show up in the food system, and what health professionals can do to advocate for change.
- May 20, 3pm-4:30pm PST
- Find more info and register here.
Farmworkers are risking their health to keep our food system going without adequate health, safety, and financial protection in the midst of COVID-19. Meanwhile, this administration has proposed slashing minimum wages for farmworkers on guest worker visas as “aid” to industrial agriculture.