It is Time to Acknowledge the Hardships of Farmers

It+is+Time+to+Acknowledge+the+Hardships+of+Farmers

Jed Owen

Sofia Montesinos

Every time you buy a fruit or vegetable, do you think about how it got to you? Do you know who spends their life in extreme heat and dangerous conditions so that you can have those foods readily available?

Even in these unimaginable times, there are thousands of farmworkers along the coast of California working to put food on our tables. These farmers have spent their entire lives in one of the most dangerous jobs and continue to do so through a global pandemic, along with one of the worst wildfire seasons the world has ever seen. 

On September 9th, the day of the so-called “apocalypse,” when a dark orange sky took over the Bay Area as a result of the wildfires and climate change, these workers were still outside all day. While everyone was staying in the safety of their homes, avoiding the great danger of inhaling this smoke, farmers who do not have the luxury of working from home or taking time off, labored through unmeasurable conditions. This is all so our families can have food to eat.

Now is the time for every person to understand the inhumane situations these farmers, who are mainly immigrants, live in. In the awareness of their suffering, the government may one day prioritize reforming their hardships.

Farmworkers in the United States are mainly immigrants, documented and undocumented, who came to the United States hoping for a better life. Without proper education and a lack of fluent English, agricultural work is many immigrants’ only means to survive in this country. Currently, 4% of farmers are immigrants with citizenship, 21% are authorized immigrants, and 48% are non-authorized immigrants. The U.S. takes advantage of these workers, especially those that are undocumented, by paying them 53% of the average U.S. income. Farmworkers also earn no paid leave, forcing them to work through unhealthy smoke and a global pandemic.

During the pandemic, many states have cut farmers off from access to COVID-19 testing, skyrocketing infection rates within agricultural workers. Meanwhile, farmers are also getting pay cuts amongst coronavirus, as the profits of agriculture companies increase as the wages of farmers decline. 

Even outside of the pandemic, farmers face miserable conditions. These workers come in contact with chemicals, severe labor conditions, heat exposure, and have to use dangerous machinery. Being a farmworker is thus one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, making their life expectancy just 49 years. 

It is important to be aware of the harmful conditions farmers face, inside and outside of the pandemic and wildfires, which is tolerated and even endorsed by the current United States government. This simple acknowledgment can spread and hold the government accountable for reform.

In this country of the “free,” there are immigrant farmworkers who do the jobs you could never imagine, being paid the bare-minimum and facing deadly conditions. How will you help fix it?