Friday, September 25, 2009

Happy National Farm Safety & Health Week

On Monday, President Barack Obama declared this week to be National Farm Safety and Health Week. Here's an excerpt:
Working long hours at physically demanding and often dangerous tasks, farmers and ranchers provide for our Nation and countless others across the world. Even as they have faced risks, they have made our agricultural sector more productive and practiced good stewardship of our country's natural resources. This week, Americans express gratitude for the untold benefits we enjoy from their labor, and we honor their achievements by urging continued commitment to the highest standards of safety and health.
While the proclamation evokes images of rolling wheat fields and overall-clad farmers on tractors, what many Americans don't know is that the bulk of the fresh food we eat is harvested by a mostly migrant workforce.

Nobody disagrees that farm work is dangerous. Agricultural workers have the 2nd highest rate of fatalities in the country. Farm workers also face some of the highest rates of chemical injury and skin disorders, and live in some of the worst housing in the nation.

The glacial pace of improvement, though, is often further hampered by workers' geographic isolation, immigration status, and language and cultural barriers. We at Toxic Free NC want to give a special shout-out in honor of our farm worker friends here in North Carolina for National Farm Safety and Health Week. And we also wanted to remind everyone that, while many farm workers already know the rules of workplace safety, they may not always be in control of what happens down on the farm.

That said, please take a minute to watch our new video below. We made it over the summer with the help of our fantastic Student Action with Farmworkers intern Laura Valencia, and it features farm workers from right here in North Carolina speaking directly to the heart of this issue. Enjoy, ¡y que vivan los campesinos!

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