Carbajal, Costa, all Hispanic Caucus members call on congressional leadership to protect farmworkers during coronavirus crisis

The stability of our nation’s food supply depends on the security of our farmworkers

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SANTA BARBARA, April 16, 2020 | comments

Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) and every member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) are calling on congressional leadership to include protection and financial assistance for farmworkers in future legislation to slow the spread of coronavirus. Farmworkers are essential frontline workers and our nation’s food supply is dependent on their well-being.

In a letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer yesterday, Carbajal and Costa led the legislators in urging that provisions to support farmworkers, the national food supply and public health at large be included in future coronavirus legislation.

 “During this crisis, our frontline farmworkers are laboring every day to put food on America’s dinner table and maintain the world food supply. As this virus threatens the resiliency of our food supply chains, it has never been more important to ensure the well-being of our agricultural producers and workforce,” the members wrote. “Farmworkers need our support. They should not live in fear. As this crisis evolves and Congress continues to explore response packages, we stand ready to work with you to ensure these protections are made available.”

 

Read the full letter to congressional leadership here and below.

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Senator McConnell, Representative McCarthy, and Senator Schumer,

The Coronavirus health crisis has presented our nation with challenges unlike any we have seen in our lifetime. During this crisis, our frontline farmworkers are laboring every day to put food on America’s dinner table and maintain the world food supply. As this virus threatens the resiliency of our food supply chains, it has never been more important to ensure the well-being of our agricultural producers and workforce. Future legislation in response to the coronavirus pandemic must include protections for these vital members of our communities.  

Our nation’s food security depends on the ability of farmworkers to continue to work safely to produce our nation's food.  As members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus we have key recommendations for policies to support farmworkers and contain the spread of COVID-19 in agricultural communities: 

  • Until the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R.5038) can become law, provide our essential agricultural workforce with legal protections from deportation. 
  • Direct financial assistance to agricultural employers to: provide farmworkers with job security, pandemic premium pay (in line with pay for other frontline workers in our country’s critical infrastructure), sick pay, and family leave; and disseminate and implement CDC recommendations on sanitation and social distancing in work sites, employer provided housing and transportation.
  • Ensure that farmworker families can feed themselves by requiring that recipients of federal nutrition funding to have dedicated efforts that specifically target farmworker communities.
  • Support the childcare needs of farmworkers by expanding the eligibility for childcare programs, along with additional funding and flexibility for the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program.
  • Additional support for community health centers, in particular those in rural, agricultural communities.

Farmworkers need our support. They should not live in fear. As this crisis evolves and Congress continues to explore response packages, we stand ready to work with you to ensure these protections are made available. Hardworking farmworkers deserve and require our action. Their wellbeing and the stabilization of our food supply depend on these actions.

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