Members 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 the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter to congressional leaders, CHC Members make key policy recommendations to ensure future coronavirus related legislation includes protections for farmworkers. Support for farmworkers is vital for our food supply and public health.
“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.”
The Hispanic Caucus is making the following 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.
On the letter to congressional leaders the CHC stated:
“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.”