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Activists: Tighten pesticide limits: Front & Center

Taken from Orlando Sentinel

American farmers apply more than 1 billion pounds of pesticides a year to their fields to kill weeds and damaging insects. But collateral damage includes farmworkers; more than 10,000 a year suffer acute pesticide poisoning. Now the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed stricter limits on pesticide use. The issue is especially important in Florida, with its $100 billion agricultural industry and more than 150,000 farmworkers. In a recent email interview, Eve Gartner of Earthjustice, an environmental advocacy group, and Jeannie Economos, a pesticide expert for the Farmworker Association of Florida, called for more stringent rules than the EPA has proposed. Excerpts of that interview follow. A longer version is online at OrlandoSentinel.com/Opinion.

Q: Why are more stringent pesticide rules needed?

A: The farmworkers who harvest the food that the rest of us consume are regularly exposed to toxic chemicals designed to kill pests. Many of these men and women suffer illnesses as a result — rashes, blisters, nausea, headaches, respiratory issues, stinging eyes — and elevated risks of cancer, neurological impairment and other long-term health problems.

According to the federal government, there are 10,000 to 20,000 acute pesticide poisonings among agricultural workers every year. Yet, farmworkers receive far less protection from pesticides than workers in other industries who are exposed to similarly toxic chemicals. Farm workers deserve the same health and safety protections as other workers in the U.S.

More Than 200,000 People Call for Stronger Workplace Protections for Farmworkers

EPA proposal is a step in the right direction as farmworkers demand stronger rules now.

 

Farmworkers, public health advocates, labor organizations, and public officials, were among the more than 200,000 who submitted comments to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling on the agency to strengthen its Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS). The WPS is the only federal standard designed to protect the nation’s more than 2 million farmworkers from one of their greatest occupational hazards: pesticide exposure.

“Farmworkers face dangerous exposure to poisons over the course of their working life,” said Eve Gartner, attorney for Earthjustice, a public interest law firm. “While most Americans benefit from broad workplace protections, farmworkers are not protected by the same health and safety standards.”

Book review: 'Fed Up: The High Cost of Cheap Food' by Dale Finley Slongwhite

By Michael Hoffmann • JACKSONVILLE (Florida) TIMES-UNION • July 31, 2014
Dale Finley Slongwhite has faithfully recorded the lamentations of third- and fourth-generation African-American agricultural workers who labored in the area around Lake Apopka, including the drained area of the lake known as “the muck.” These lamentations are poignant, thoughtful, triumphant and, yes, bitter. The speakers helped to feed America and have pride in this accomplishment — surviving, if not prospering, despite economic and political hardships from Jim Crow segregation to today’s laissez-faire politics and crony capitalism.
The import of the words of the speakers in “Fed Up: The High Costs of Cheap Food” is magnified by Gaye Kozanli’s remarkable black-and-white photographs of the speakers, primarily black women, who have seen family members, friends and neighbors dead too soon from the hot, hard work in the fields and groves where they were subjected to the widespread use of pesticides and herbicides as well as the accumulated poisons of the exposed lake bottom. ...

Detentions threaten community safety

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Over Two Dozen Civil Rights and Legal Groups Demand Florida Counties Halt Enforcement of Unconstitutional Immigration Detainers

“ICE detainers” have illegally imprisoned countless individuals, opening enforcing agencies to liability; Letters sent to 62 sheriffs urge Florida counties to join the hundreds of places – including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties – that have stopped enforcing the unconstitutional holds.

MIAMI, FL – A coalition of civil rights, immigrants’ rights, religious and legal groups has sent letters to officials in 62 Florida counties calling for an end to local law enforcement agencies detaining people for alleged civil immigration violations at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The letters and attached legal memoranda explain that requests for “ICE detainers” or “ICE holds” are not legally binding and that the detentions threaten community safety and raise serious constitutional problems that could open enforcing agencies up to significant legal liability.
CONTACT:  ACLU of Florida Media Office, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (786) 363-2737

A victory on our path to an international declaration on the rights of peasants

From La Via Campesina
Press Release, July 7, 2014

(Geneva, June 27th, 2014) On June 27th, the United Nations Human Rights Council Assembly passed a resolution authorising the continuation of the process of drafting an international declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. Bolivia is in charge of starting up informal consultations between States and civil society as well as organising the second session of of the Intergovernmental Open-Ended Working Group, which is scheduled to take place in November 2014.

The declaration project originated with the Via Campesina,

La Via Campesina welcomes the UN Human Rights Council move to challenge corporate impunity

La Via Campesina Press Release, June 30, 2014
FWAF is member of La Vía Campesina

TNC%20photo%20Geneva%202014.JPG(Switzerland, Geneva, June 27, 2014) La Via Campesina welcomes the resolution approved at the UN Human Rights Council to draw up a binding treaty to punish the crimes of transnational companies (TNC's). “This is a victory for peasants, who in most cases are unable to access legal systems to take actions against the impunity of TNCs. Also, looking at the current agricultural activities that have been captured by multinational companies, the instrument will be a great tool for the victims to file cases against land-grabbing by TNCs. We thank the initiating countries and the countries that voted in favour.” said Themba Chauke from the South African Landless Peoples Movement, a member of La Via Campesina.

Protecting Farmworker Children from Pesticide Exposure

By Joan Flocks, JD, MA, taken from PSR

In the United States, potentially carcinogenic pesticide exposures are subject to a net of protective regulations. But the population most in need of protection from hazardous exposures -  farmworker children – is falling through holes in that regulatory net.

According to the 2008-2009 Annual Report for the President’s Caner Panel, exposure to the pesticides approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for agricultural and non-agricultural use have been linked to Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma; multiple myeloma; soft tissue sarcoma; and cancers of the brain/central nervous system, breast, colon, lung, ovary, pancreas, kidney, testicle, and stomach.[1] In agricultural settings, those most at risk of direct dermal, oral, or inhalation exposure to pesticides are farmers, pesticide applicators, and farmworkers.

South Apopka Community Food Assessment

The Farmworker Association of Florida and the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council are pleased to release the South Apopka Community Food Assessment.  The report provides a broad overview of the local food system in South Apopka - the assets, the challenges, and the opportunities, as well as the barriers faced by low-income families in our area when it comes to accessing quality fresh produce.  The assessment spanned three years (2011-13), and engaged low-income community members, farmworkers, farmers, community organizations, food retailers and food-based programs, healthcare representatives, faith-based groups, the local credit union and community center, the local bus system, and local elected officials.  During that time, much data was gathered and many ideas were generated about how to increase families' fresh food consumption and healthy lifestyle choices, thereby positively impacting their health.    We look forward to collaborating with local partners to improve South Apopka's local food system!

Download Report

Stand with farmworkers!

Our food system depends on the labor of more than two million farmworkers across the country, and they depend on our support!

Join us in urging EPA to make their proposed new farmworker safety rules stronger and more effective. The proposed rules are open for public comment right now, and we need to stand with farmworkers for a safer, healthier workplace. Please sign on to the petition here!

Poor: No Longer a Four-Letter Word

Holly Baker of the Farmworker Association of Florida defines poverty this way: "Poverty is not only struggling to have the means to support the basic needs of your family, poverty is living each day feeling and knowing that you are unjustly judged by others and that you don't have an equal voice." (excerpt from the article)

Article by Luz Vega-Marquis (Read full article here)

What does it mean to be poor in America? Just as importantly, who decides how poverty is defined?
Let's start with the dictionary. According to the professional word-wranglers at Merriam-Webster, poverty is "The state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions."
Even in the supposedly neutral arena of dictionaries, poverty is defined as a lack of not merely money but status -- a personal failing rather than a social problem. This is poverty as defined from the outside, looking in.
Poverty as an experience -- the father who holds down two $7.25-an-hour jobs and rarely sees the family he works so hard to feed; the baby boomers facing spending their old age in poverty -- is glaringly absent from public discourse about poverty.
Words, however, do hold tremendous power to shape public attitudes and perception, and perception, in turn, shapes policy.

Help Farmworkers to protect againts pesticides!!

The two million farmworkers who labor to put food on our tables are about to get new protections against pesticides. By taking action now, you can help ensure that these protections are strong enough to do the job.
The protections are proposed by the EPA in improvements to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard, which hasn’t been upgraded since it was passed in 1992. However, the standard can be improved.
The proposed rule is in response to a 2011 petition from Earthjustice and our partners on behalf of several farmworker and public advocacy organizations requesting improved protections from pesticide exposure. Exposure to pesticides and their residues causes farmworkers to suffer more chemical-related injuries and illnesses than any other workforce nationwide.
Help improve these proposed standards by expressing your concerns—today—to the EPA.

New Seed Survey Report Highlights Privatization Concerns

The U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance today released A Preliminary Report on Seeds and Seeds Practices in the US in celebration of La Vía Campesina's International Day of Farmers’ and Peasants’ Struggles – April 17.

The Report is based on surveys of seed savers and seed advocates from around the United States. It documents who saves seeds, as well as why, where and which ones.

Confused about the labels on your food?

In recent years there has been a proliferation of social justice and fair trade market claims leading to consumer confusion. Consumers are bombarded with claims, many of which are not applied consistently, lack relevant meaning, or don not tell the whole story of a product or program. At the same time, many organizations and companies are making tremendous progress in setting standards for fair trade and social justice or implementing fair business practices. There is a danger that these legitimate programs and practices will become indistinguishable from false or misleading claims without a more objective consumer education and outreach campaign.
To address the need, the Domestic Fair Trade Association created an evaluation program using its own principles as criteria for distinguishing between claims. Thus far the DFTA has evaluated six prominent fair trade and social justice certification programs to better understand the current landscape facing consumers. Our hope is that these evaluations will help consumers identify programs that reflect the DFTA’s vision of just, healthy, and sustainable food system.

To view the evaluations please visit fairfacts

Happy Birthday !! Cesar Chavez

On March 31, in honor of the birthday of Cesar Chavez and culminating national Farmworker Awareness Week, representatives of the Farmworker Association of Florida, Central Florida Jobs With Justice, YAYA of the National Farm Worker Ministry, OUR Walmart, Organize Now and other local Central Florida organizations met with staff of the office of Florida Senator Bill Nelson in Orlando. In solidarity with actions around the country supported by the Food Chain Workers Alliance, the group raised up the issues of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 as well as expanding protections for farmworkers, including the importance of passing a comprehensive immigration reform.

The Senator's staff assured us that Senator Nelson is a cosponsor of the S. 84, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is aimed at closing the wage gap between men and women, and a cosponsor of the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, S. 1737, which would incrementally raise the minimum wage to $10.10 over two years and then index it to inflation and increase the minimum wage for tipped employees until it reaches 70 percent of the minimum wage for regular employees.

While farmworkers are excluded from minimum wage labor laws, the Farmworker Association of Florida stands in solidarity with our Brothers and Sisters in other occupations all along the food chain.  All workers deserve to make a living wage!  Farmworkers need the same wage protections afforded all other U.S. workers.  Together, Si, Se Puede!

Vote for our Campesinos' Gardens

 

TOP 50 GARDENS, Vote from April 1-April 21

The Campesinos’ Gardens, run by and for primarily farmworker families, were founded in the citrus-growing region of Fellsmere, Florida in 2010. Ironically, those who work to provide fresh food for the masses, are often unable to provide sufficient, quality produce for their own families. Utilizing city-owned lands, the gardens engage farmworker and other low-income families in meaningful sustainable agriculture efforts. The Campesinos’ Gardens’ two sites in Fellsmere reach more than 100 families annually with fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Local farmers’ markets enable the Gardens to reach additional community members with naturally-ripened, freshly-harvested produce. The model will be replicated this year in two additional farmworker communities – Pierson and Florida City. The Seeds of Change grant would be used to support youth education efforts, and to support infrastructure costs of expanding to two new areas, including purchase of tools, seeds, and fencing and irrigation supplies.

Farmworker Women Leaders Making Major Impact

farmworker women_we want rights(taken from latinorebels.com)

In observance of Women’s History Month, LatinoRebels.com is celebrating Latinas who are making a difference every day. Today, as a part of National Farmworker Awareness week, we honor some of the women who are leading the migrant women’s rights movement.

Farmworker women put food on our tables.  They plant, pick, and pack fruits and vegetables, among other crops and plants.  It is estimated that more than 600,000 women are responsible for feeding us. These women are often subject to poor and unsafe working conditions. They are often victims of wage theft, gender discrimination, including sexual harassment, and a range of other problems.

Often, a one-size-fits-all approach has been applied to efforts to improve conditions for farmworkers, with little attention paid to the unique issues that confront farmworker women as women workers

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