Giving Compass' Take:
- Despite policies and legal protections, climate change causes extreme heat and wildfires that endangers the livelihood of farmworkers across California.
- How can donors help widen the safety net for farmworkers who face dangerous conditions?
- Read more about the impact of climate change on farmworkers' health.
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Mass shootings at two California mushroom farms last month drew national attention to the dismal working and living conditions imposed on California farmworkers. Surveys of California Terra Garden and Concord Farms, where the assailant had worked, revealed families living in trailers and shipping containers, using makeshift kitchens and portable toilets. State and federal officials have opened investigations into the farms, where workers reported earning below minimum wage.
The conditions are “very typical images … for California and for the country,” Irene de Barraicua, director of operations at Lideres Campesinas, a network of female farmworker leaders, told the Washington Post after the shooting.
Now, the first comprehensive assessment of California farmworker health since 1999, released Friday, demonstrates just how typical those conditions are – and how climate change, and widening inequality, are exacerbating challenges for these workers, some of the most disenfranchised residents of the state.
The landmark study, by the University of California, Merced’s Community and Labor Center, in partnership with organizations that serve farmworkers across the state, and funded by the California Department of Public Health, surveyed over 1,200 workers about their health, well-being, and workplace conditions. It found widespread exposure to wildfire smoke and pesticides, rodents and cockroaches in rental units, inadequate safety training, and lack of access to clean drinking water. Half of all farmworkers surveyed reported going without health insurance, even when between one-third and one-half had at least one chronic health condition.
Read the full article about farmworkers and exposure to wildfires by Blanca Begert at Grist.