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Farmers: Trump 'terrible for agriculture'

Many say they can't harvest their crops without immigrant labor

By Bill Tomson

Even before real-estate mogul Donald Trump called undocumented immigrants "rapists and murderers" who "have to go," California contractor Carlos Castañeda was having difficulty hiring enough workers to pick celery and squash.

Now Castañeda and others fear Trump's talk about erecting a "big beautiful wall" at the border and deporting millions could make it nearly impossible to find the guest workers they need — workers who would obtain legal status under most comprehensive reform bills.

"There are growers out there screaming for labor," said Castañeda, a farm labor contractor in San Luis Obispo County in central California. "The people who are coming in are doing the work that not a single American would like to do."

Labor Secretary Tom Perez To Join The Fight For $15

Article taken from huffingtonpost.com
Dave Jamieson Labor Reporter, The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- Fast-food workers who are hoping to raise the minimum wage will find an ally in the Obama White House this week, with Labor Secretary Tom Perez traveling to Detroit on Tuesday to show his solidarity with the so-called Fight for $15.

"I'm proud to stand with the Fight for 15 movement," Perez told The Huffington Post. "And it really is a movement. It's for shared prosperity."

The union-backed Fight for $15 and its allies have roiled the service sector with intermittent strikes over the past three years, demanding a $15 wage floor and union recognition. The sight of large-scale protests has helped spur vast increases in the minimum wage in cities and states around the country, most recently in New York, where the state's wage board moved to set a $15 minimum for fast-food workers.

A HERO HAS PASSED AWAY

On August 6, 2015, a man who made a difference in the world left this plane of existence for another.  He changed the way that we understand our world and, in so doing, he warned us of what we need to do to protect it.
 
Dr. Louis Guillette, the alligator scientist, noted for his studies on alligators on Lake Apopka and the effects of pesticides on wildlife, and, hence, on humans, died after a life-time of work that took him around the world and helped open up a new realm of science that identified chemicals in the environment that impact the endocrine systems of animals and, ultimately, of humans.
 
Farmworkers worked for decades on Lake Apopka.  They were exposed to the same chemicals that caused reproductive abnormalities in the alligators on the lake.  While agency officials and environmentalists were dismissing the importance of the chemical contamination on the lake, Dr. Guillette continued to sound the alarm that persistent chemicals are causing endocrine disruption in possibly more than just the alligators.
 
The Farmworker Association of Florida and the community of Lake Apopka farmworkers are deeply saddened by this great loss.  Dr. Guillette – Lou – and his anthropologist wife, Buzzy, participated in community meetings with the farmworker community to demand answers to their questions about their pesticide exposure on Lake Apopka.  Unlike other scientists afraid to take their science one step further and advocate for change, Dr. Guillette was a hero to many in our community, in Florida and around the world.  His work is cited in many publications, books, and journals.
 
We will always remember Dr. Guillette as one of the few people who listened, cared about, understood and spoke out for the farmworkers on Lake Apopka.  Our hearts break.  We will miss him greatly. See the message at Beyond Pesticides website
 
Dr. Louis Guillette was a keynote speaker at the Pesticide Forum in Orlando in April of this year.  The Beyond Pesticides annual Forum was co-sponsored by FWAF.   Video tape of Dr. Guillette’s keynote address. Watch the video here

Conditions for Farmworkers in Mexico and U.S. Show Lack of Basic Field Sanitation Protections

Revelations of unsanitary conditions for workers in the fields in Mexico have resulted in the FDA stepping  up and issuing a ban on fresh cilantro from the state of Puebla, MX.  But, conditions for farmworkers in the U.S. are often just as bad.  Workers tell us that they often do not have any place to wash their hands, or that their is no soap or paper towels available.  Also, some work in fields with no bathroom or with bathrooms so dirty, they do not want to use them.  We cannot point fingers at Mexico without improving conditions for farmworkers in the U.S., as well.  You can read the article here.

Action in Orange County Courthouse in Orlando

On July 10th, the Farmworker Association of Florida joined with allies Mi Familia Vota, YAYA of the National Farm Worker Ministry, Hope CommUnity Center, Central Florida Jobs With Justice, the Ironworkers union and many others in a rally in front of the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando and marched to the office of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to demand that Florida drop their lawsuit and instead support President Obama’s Executive Order for DACA expansion and for DAPA for parents of DACA participants.  

The action in Orlando was one of many actions around the country on the day when the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals listened to oral arguments on the Obama administration’s request for a stay of the injunction imposed on the President’s Executive Order. A negative ruling may mean that the case eventually will end up in the Supreme Court sometime in the future. The result is that thousands of families’ lives are hanging in the balance, while they wait to adjust their immigration status and continue to hope for a good outcome in the end. DACA 2012 participants will not be affected by this ruling, except for Employment Authorized Documents issued after February 2015. Those who applied for DACA after February 2015 will, also, be affected.

Our hard-working immigrant families deserve better! FWAF will continue to be on the frontlines of promoting and demanding dignity, justice and equality for all! Sí, Se Puede!

FWAF Delegation is part of the U.S. Social Forum

On Friday, June 26th, a delegation of two volunteers, one youth leader and one staff member traveled to Jackson, MS to the Southern People's Movement Assembly for a Just Transition, being hosted by Cooperation Jackson.  The goal of the gathering was to ensure that we are unified and strong in seeking a just transition from the economic and social systems that have led to widespread economic injustices and environmental destruction for people and the Earth and to address the biggest issue affecting everyone today – climate change.

Representatives of FWAF joined with activists and communities from Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Texas and California (among others) to participate in the tracks throughout the weekend: Economics and Systems Change; Youth and Systems Change; Labor and Systems Change; Environment and Systems Change and to share stories of environmental destruction and social oppression as well as to share strategies for resistance.  The motto of the USSF has been "Another World is Possible" and in Jackson, together we envisioned that world and committed to work to make it a reality.  

Everyone came back energized and better prepared to fight the environmental injustices suffered by farmworker and other rural low-income communities in Florida. Check out FWAF at Facebook for pictures from our trip!

Groups urge 100 garden retailers to stop selling pollinator-toxic pesticides

WASHINGTON, D.C. — To celebrate National Pollinator Week, more than 50 beekeeper, farmer, farmworker, faith-based, environmental and consumer organizations sent letters to more than 100 of the top garden retailers across the country, including True Value and Ace Hardware, urging public commitments to stop selling bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides. These letters follow thousands of calls on Tuesday from customers of Ace and True Value urging these retailers to stop selling bee-killing pesticides and pre-treated plants.

Ace Hardware, the largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative in the world, announced at the beginning of June it is willing to move away from products containing neonicotinoids -- a leading driver of global bee declines -- but has not responded to requests for dialogue; or to clarify and make public their commitments to phase these pesticides out of their business.

“We are pleased that Ace has stated its willingness to move away from bee-toxic neonicotinoids,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “However, Ace, True Value and other retailers must do their part to address the bee crisis by joining their competitors in making concrete commitments to eliminate bee-killing pesticides. Until then, these retailers will continue to be part of the problem.”

Good News for Now, but No Time to Let Up

On Friday, June 12, by failing to pass the Trade Adjustment Act (one of three pieces of legislation that formed the trade package) the House slowed down and potentially killed Fast Track Authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, otherwise referred to as the TPP.

Hundreds of organizations, including worker rights, environmental, labor, health, fair trade, and others, including many community organizations, including FWAF, have worked tirelessly to make sure that the House of Representatives did not pass Fast Track and the TPP.  Fast Track is a fundamentally undemocratic mechanism that would allow the office of the President to negotiate trade deals in secrecy and the TPP is a free trade agreement that has been described as NAFTA on steroids that would have disastrous effects on farmworkers, indigenous peoples, natural resources, and subsistence communities in the U.S. and overseas. NAFTA wreaked havoc on small-scale peasant agriculture in Mexico and Central America—the catalyst for many to make the dangerous journey to the U.S. and work the fields here—while it made U.S. agriculture compete with many more producers, to which they respond by exploiting their workers even more.

Free trade deals negotiated across continents give more power and control to corporations that dominate conventional agriculture today, by promoting the production and distribution of more chemical pesticides and fertilizers and gaining more control over our seeds, our food and our food system. This is the reverse of the direction that we should be moving in. FWAF is working with others to create a new paradigm, in which communities work to re-gain their own sovereignty over their land and their food. In this way, we empower farmworkers and work towards justice for the Earth and for the people that work the earth.

The vote on June 12 is but a temporary victory, as there will continue to be intense pressure to push through this free trade deal. We need to keep pressure on Congress to make sure that they do the same if it is brought back for another vote. Sign up for our Action Alerts to stay abreast of the latest developments and to be involved in being part of the solution.  

Report on Walmart's treatment of Workers and the Environment

The Farmworker Association of Florida is a member of the Food Chain Workers Alliance , which has just released a new report that exposes the claims versus the reality of Walmart’s treatment of workers and the environment. Entitled “Walmart at the Crossroads: the Environmental and Labor Impact of Its Food Supply Chain”, the report (see here)   looks closely at Walmart’s impact on farmers, farmworkers, and at the labor and environmental records of 22 major suppliers to the company of popular food items. The findings of the report underscore Walmart’s priority on profits at the expense of genuine enforcement of its suppliers’ compliance with their code of ethics and over its goals for environmental sustainability and fair treatment of workers along the supply chain.    

The findings of the report show that workers in Walmart’s stores and in its food supply chain endure a slew of labor abuses, including gender and racial discrimination, unfair treatment of immigrants, low pay, violations of freedom of association and even workplace accidents and fatalities. This includes farmworkers in the fields that are harvesting the produce sold in Walmart stores around the country and around the world.

“We are calling on Walmart to truly enforce its labor and environmental standards and to strengthen them, based on the commendations in our report,” says Joann Lo, Co-Director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance and one of the principle authors of the report.     With well over 11,000 stores in roughly 27 countries, Walmart is the world’s largest retailer. Walmart’s influence on both suppliers and distributors in the food chain gives it incredible power in the global food system.

Walmart’s business model is based on using its size to extract the lowest price from suppliers.     For this reason, the report release coincides with a petition campaign. You can play a part in telling Walmart to “play fair” by signing the petition.

 

Lawsuit wastes taxpayer dollars

 

"The lawsuit against President Obama’s Executive Order filed by Florida’s own Governor Rick Scott and  Attorney General Pam Bondi with many others is simply a political PR stunt by anti-immigrant politicians. It is meant to tie our families up in a legal battle and kill their spirits. This lawsuit not only wastes taxpayer dollars, but also disenfranchises immigrant families, and robs much-needed revenue from state economies.

 

The governors and attorneys general behind this lawsuit need to drop it because they are only perpetuating the status quo of a broken immigration system. We need our elected officials focused on real solutions and giving 5 million immigrant workers and Dreamers a chance to live, work, and stay in the United States. This case is just another politically motivated move by anti-immigrant politicians to delay an action that will bring some relief to our families and to our country.

 

We will stop at nothing to ensure millions of immigrant workers, parents, and Dreamers have the chance to live, work, and stay in America with their families, and that includes going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. We are confident that in the end, the courts will side in our favor and our families will win.""

DROP THE LAWSUIT!


May 19th should have been the day when tens of thousands of immigrants around the country could breathe a sigh of relief! President Obama’s Executive Order on DAPA was scheduled to go into effect today, essentially giving immigrants in the U.S. an opportunity to come out of the shadows and escape the constant fear of separation of their families and possible detention and deportation.

Instead, 26 Governors and Attorneys General are dashing the hopes of hard-working parents and their children by insisting on a baseless lawsuit against extending the DACA program and implementing DAPA. The very people whose hands feed us every day must continue to live with uncertainty and trepidation each day they go to work, take their children to school, shop for groceries and go to the doctor.   This is not the kind of America we want; not the kind of America that we aspire to be. A nation founded on immigrants and on immigrant labor, culture, and contributions can do better than this. We can show the world that we are better than this!

As people who care, it is up to us to make our voices heard. Political leaders need to hear from the majority of people in this country who believe that we all deserve a chance to be treated with worth, dignity and value. DACA and DAPA are two programs designed to lift up those who have so much to offer our society and who have so much inner potential to succeed. Let us all be on the right side of history by making a statement – loud and clear – that we are all created equal and deserve equal rights. Drop the lawsuit now!

Sign the petition here

We the young people of the world!!

POLITICAL DECLARATION
 
We are the expression of youth’s working class who account for the majority population in several nations, but who are attacked all over the world. We the young people of the world, want to live in dignity, fight and lead a happy life. We are who we are committed to a complete social transformation, as part of this history have managed to rescue the memory of past struggles and we seek to sustain the resistance with a vision of our future for the generations to come.
In this spirit, we of 36 popular youth movements from 24 countries, on 4 continents (Africa, America, Asia and Europe) met between 3rd-5th May 2015 at the National Florestan Fernandes School (ENFF, initials in portuguese) in São Paulo, Brazil, in order to make an effort to recognize that we are primary targets of violence; to identify the enemies and resist through our common flags of struggle, as also forging a platform to continue this effort of building a joint internationalist that is anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, anticolonialist, anti-neoliberal and anti-patriarchal. 

Groups urge USDA to launch thorough investigation into scientist censorship USDA scientists' research about bee-killing pesticides compromised

USDA scientists' research about bee-killing pesticides compromised

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Environmentalists, beekeepers, farmworkers, farmers, fisheries, and food safety advocates sent a letter to the USDA Inspector General and the co-chairs of the White House Task Force on Pollinator Health today, urging an investigation into recent reports that USDA scientists are being harassed and their research is being censored or suppressed, especially research related to neonicotinoid insecticides -- a leading driver of bee declines globally. The White House Task Force on
Pollinator Health, co-chaired by the USDA, is expected to release a plan for bee protection in the near future. The more than 25 groups are concerned that the plan will lack meaningful protections for pollinators if the USDA's research has been compromised. 

In March, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER, filed a citizen petition requesting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture adopt new policies that would provide stronger protections for government scientists who question the health and safety of agricultural chemicals. 

"It is unconscionable for USDA to cover up or politicize any research. The science needs to speak for itself. Beekeepers in Maryland and across the country need a comprehensive plan to address pesticide use, habitat loss, and the other issues facing bees and other pollinators. Otherwise, they won't survive in this toxic environment, and that will put us all in a food desert. It is critical that USDA serve beekeepers and the American public, not just the pesticide industry," said Roger Williams, president of the Central Maryland Beekeepers Association."How can the American public expect USDA to develop a federal strategy that will protect bees instead of pesticide industry profits if it is harassing and suppressing its own scientists for conducting research that runs counter to industry claims?" said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner with Friends of the Earth. "If USDA wants to employ a kill-the-messenger approach, it will only delay critical action to address the bee crisis that threatens our nation's food supply.""If we cannot trust the scientific integrity of our scientists to protect bees, how can farmworkers be assured that their health and safety are not in jeopardy from a scientific community that is beholden to the interests of corporations and not to the protection of their own health and safety?" said Jeannie Economos, pesticide safety and environmental health project coordinator with Farmworker Association of Florida. "The issue goes beyond only protecting bees, but to protecting the public health, especially the most vulnerable, as well.""The Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance cares deeply that USDA science be untainted, because poorly studied and regulated pesticides ultimately end up in the ocean where they continue their toxic journey damaging marine food chains and habitat that support our wild fisheries, fishing communities and seafood production," said Boyce Thorne Miller, science and policy advisor with The Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance. "Censorship and harassment poison good science and good policy," said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "There's no question that neonicotinoids are killing bees and it's long past time for our government to take action. The European Union has already banned neonicotinoids. The reports that USDA is harassing and suppressing its scientists for doing their jobs instead of using their findings to protect our pollinators are extremely disturbing."The White House Task Force on Pollinator Health was established as part of a Presidential Memorandum, issued by President Obama in June 2014, which called for a federal strategy to protect pollinators and called on the EPA to assess the effect of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, on bees and other pollinators within 180 days. Last April, Friends of the Earth released a report, "Follow the Honey: 7 ways pesticide companies are spinning the bee crisis to protect profits," which documents the deceptive tactics used by agrochemical companies including Germany-based Bayer (DE: BAYN), Switzerland-based Syngenta (NYSE: SYT) and U.S.-based Monsanto (NYSE: MON), to deflect blame from their products' contributions to bee declines and delay regulatory action on neonicotinoid pesticides. 

The letter sent by environmentalists, beekeepers, farmworkers, farmer and food safety advocates to the USDA Inspector General and the co-chairs of the White House Task Force on Pollinator Health, along with a complete list of signatories, can be found here.

We thank for the Florida Blue Foundation's Sapphire Award

The Farmworker Association of Florida was selected as a recipient of the Florida Blue Foundation's Sapphire Award.  On April 23, FWAF's Board Chair, Isidoro Quezada, was presented with a beautiful hand-blown glass trophy, along with an award of $100,000 in recognition of the work of FWAF's Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health Project.  The project was recognized for the accomplishments in making workplaces safer and reducing exposure to pesticides through education, regulatory, and policy change work to improve farmworker protections.  In addition, Margarita Romo, Executive Director of Farmworkers Self-Help, of Dade City, a long-time ally of FWAF, was awarded a Sapphire Award in the individual category, and awarded $50,000 for her long commitment to improving the health of farmworkers.


In the picture, FWAF Board Chair accepts the Sapphire Award, in the program category, from Patrick Geraghty, CEO of Florida Blue.

The 33rd Annual National Pesticide Forum in Orlando April 17-18 was an Incredible Success!

Entitled Agricultural Justice, Age of Organics, and Alligators: Protecting Health, Biodiversity and Ecosystems, the event was cohosted by the Farmworker Association of Florida, Beyond Pesticides, and Florida A&M School of Law. The Forum provided Farmworker Association staff with an incredible opportunity to learn about the current science and policy information as well as to discuss and compare agricultural regulations and their impacts on farmworkers on the local, state, and national levels. The conference included a Toxic Tour in the Apopka area--led by former Lake Apopka farmworker and community organizer Linda Lee and farmworker and community organizer Miguel Zelaya -- which introduced the participants to the history and legacy of industrial vegetable farming in Central Florida.  

The forum focused on agricultural justice, including the impact of pesticide use on human health and the environment, particularly as it relates to farmworker protections and organic agriculture. Biodiversity, pollinator protection, and other relevant issues for Central Florida, including West Nile virus, pesticides in schools and hospitals, and genetic engineering were also discussed. Two giants in the world of precedent-breaking research on the effects of pesticides on reproductive rates of alligators and feminization of frogs, Dr. Louis Guillette and Dr. Tyrone Hayes shared their visions that significant scientific research must lead committed scientists to advocacy outside the lab to protect wildlife, human health and our entire planet.

The weekend brought together scientists, policy makers, public health and environmental advocates, community organizers, and farmworkers to interact and strategize on solutions that are protective of farmworker health and the environment. The collective knowledge, energy, dedication and commitment at the Forum was both inspirational and empowering.

Also, during the forum FWAF General Coordinator, Tirso Moreno, was honored to receive the Dragonfly Award from Beyond Pesticides Executive Director, Jay Feldman.

17 de Abril: Día de las Luchas Campesinas Contra las Transnacionales y los Tratados de Libre Comercio

Publicado el Martes, 31 Marzo 2015 23:17

Comunicado La Vía Campesina

(Harare, 30 de Marzo de 2015) La Vía Campesina Internacional  definió  el 17 de Abril  como - el Día Internacional de las Luchas Campesinas -  para  visibilizar  y denunciar la criminalización de la protesta,  persecución y violencia que enfrenta cotidianamente el campesinado  a causa de la implementación del modelo neoliberal y del agronegocio en el campo. Para el Movimiento Campesino Internacional  es urgente agilizar la aprobación de la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Campesinos y otras personas que trabajan en zonas rurales como una herramienta de lucha para garantizar una vida digna en el campo.

Este 17 de Abril de 2015, La Vía Campesina Internacional centrará su movilización en   los impactos de las Empresas Trasnacionales y los Tratados de Libre Comercio para la Agricultura Campesina y la Soberanía Nacional.  Por lo cual, en esta Jornada de Acción Global   llamamos a fortalecer la lucha social  y  la organización  de los pueblos  en todo el mundo para reivindicar  la tierra y  la reforma agraria,  así como el  derecho ancestral a la tierra y territorios como dos condiciones indispensables para la  Agricultura Campesina y la Soberanía Alimentaria de los Pueblos.
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