Farm Workers Rights

Global Week Essay:

We all eat farm fresh produce, but do you ever think about its story? The farm workers who put long hours and tons of effort into producing our food are often unrecognized, in fact nobody even realizes the horrible conditions that they work in. When they are in the field they are most likely working in extreme heat and direct sunlight. In addition to those conditions, they are often far from suitable drinking water. These unhealthy surroundings can result in horrible heat related illnesses. When the farmers are ill they are disoriented and can be less productive. In order to feed our world we need to treat the providers of our food with care and give them reasonable conditions.

There are many factors contributing to this problem. One of the reasons that the workers have these bad conditions is that the Occupational Safety and Health Act, established in 1970 is not enforced. This law states that any employer with more than 11 employees that conduct hand labor in a field must provide suitably sanitary and cool drinking water. Because there are very infrequent farm inspections, it is very easy for employers to not follow this rule. Farmers are forced to take time out of their work to get water to drink. This leads to the next factor, most farmers are paid by piece not by hour. This is an issue because the workers are not willing to make time to get water because fear of not meeting their quota, not making enough money or even being fired. The final problem is that there is not a heat standard that employers have to follow make sure that their employees are protected from the heat. All of these problems play a role in the bad conditions for workers.
My solution to this problem is to first make a heat stress standard. This standard would have details on how many breaks farmers can have and temperature standards. Once this law is in place, the next step is to have more frequent inspections for this new law and the Occupational Safety and Health Act. With this new standard and the increase in inspections, employers would be forced to provide their workers with better conditions. Also if employers were required to pay their workers by the hour, workers would be more inclined to take the health measures that they needed, whether it was getting a drink of water, or spending 5 minutes in the shade. All of these solutions would create better conditions for our farmers so they could make more food.

The results of these heat stressed and water deprived areas are heat illness and heat related death. When our farmers have these illnesses they become disoriented. Being disoriented means that they are not able to realize when they need to take protective measures, so they become worse. They are less productive when they are dehydrated or have any other heat related illnesses. The solution that I created is very important to making the situations better for farmers so that they can make more food for our world.

–Lia Salvatierra

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment