Farmworkers Come to Capitol Hill Seeking Safeguards
On Monday, July 15 and Tuesday, July 16 more than a dozen farmworkers, their allies and advocates from across the nation are meeting with their members of Congress to call for the implementation of stronger protections for farmworkers from hazardous pesticides.
An estimated 5.1 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to crops annually in the United States, and farmworkers face the greatest threat from these chemicals than any other sector of society, with thousands of farmworkers each year experiencing pesticide poisoning. The nation’s 1-2 million farmworkers form the backbone of the U.S. agricultural economy and many are regularly exposed to pesticides. The federal government estimates that there are 10-20,000 acute pesticide poisonings among workers in the agricultural industry annually, a figure that likely understates the actual number of acute poisonings since many affected farmworkers may not seek care from a physician.
Also, farmworker families are exposed to pesticides in the form of residues on workers’ tools, clothes, shoes, and skin. The close proximity of agricultural fields to residential areas also results in aerial drift of pesticides into farmworkers’ homes, schools, and playgrounds. Research shows that children are especially vulnerable to harms from these exposures, even at very low levels.
Why haven't the Worker Protection Standard been revised in 20 years? What kind of changes to the Worker Protection Standard are the farmworkers and advocates proposing? What kind of recourse do farmworkers have if they are hurt by pesticide exposure?