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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Jim Costa Representing 16th District of California

 

 

The stability of our nation’s food supply depends on the security of our farmworkers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Over 120 Members of the House Democratic Caucus 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 led by CHC members Reps. Costa and Carbajal, lawmakers provide 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.

The letter was signed by CHC Chairman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), First Vice Chair Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Second Vice Chair Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Whip Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Freshman Representative Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16), Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09), Congressman José Serrano (NY-15), Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-3), Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Congressman Ben Ray Luján (NM-3), Congressman Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (Guam-At Large), Congresswoman Norma Torres (CA-35), Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Congressman Mike Levin (CA-49), Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Congressman Filemon Vela (TX-34), Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Congressman Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36), Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Northern Marina Islands-At Large), Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (NY-12), Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), Congressman J. Luis Correa (CA-46), Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29), Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-8), Congressman Juan Vargas (CA-51), Congressman Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39), Congressman Pete Aguilar (CA-31), Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small (NM-2), Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-3), Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-13), Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-7), Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster (NH-2), Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-4), Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Congressman Danny K. Davis (IL-7), Congressman David Trone (MC-6), Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-3), Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01), Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (MI-5), Congressman Adam Smith (WA-9), Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Congressman Andy Levin (MI-9), Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11), Congressman Brad Sherman (CA-30), Congressman Charlie Crist (FL-11), Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan (PA-6), Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-1), Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01), Congressman Derek Kilmer (WA-6), Congresswoman Donna E. Shalala (FL-27), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large), Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-6), Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-5), Congressman Al Green (TX-9), Congresswoman Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (NC-12), Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-2), Congressman Anthony G. Brown (MD-4), Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (MS-2), Congressman Bobby L. Rush (IL-1), Congresswoman Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14), Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-1), Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-5), Congressman David Price (NC-4), Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Congresswoman Diana DeGette (CO-1), Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-5), Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-4), Congressman James P. McGovern (MA-2), Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-8), Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-9), Congressman Joe Neguse (CO-2), Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III (MA-3), Congresswoman Julia Brownley (CA-26), Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-5), Congreswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), Congressman Paul D. Tonko (NY-20), Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-7), Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22), Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13), Congresswoman Val Demings (FL-10), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (FL-9), Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Congressman John Garamendi (CA-3), Congressman Josh Harder (CA-10), Congresswoman Karen Bass (CA-33), Congressman Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-9), Congressman Mike Quigley (IL-5), Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Congressman Sanford Bishop (GA-2), Congresswoman Suzan K. DelBene (WA-1), Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), Congressman TJ Cox (CA-21), Congressman Bill Keating (MA-9), Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-2), Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3), Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27),Congresswoman Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08), Congresswoman Lois Frankel (FL-21), Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-2),Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-5), Congressman Peter Welch (VT-At Large), Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17), Congressman Sean Casten (IL-06),  Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), Congressman Thomas R. Suozzi (D–NY-16), and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2).

“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.”

 

Full text of the letter follows and can be found here.

 

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Senator McConnell, Representative McCarthy, and Senator Schumer, 

The coronavirus health crisis has presented our nation with challenges unlike any we have seen in our lifetime. 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. Future legislation in response to the coronavirus pandemic must include protections for these vital members of our communities. 

Our nation’s food security depends on the ability of farmworkers to continue to work safely to produce our nation’s food. We have 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 working with 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. 

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. 

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