Uncertainty Looms Over Health and Safety of Farmworkers
In this pandemic, we keep hearing that the food supply is fine. That couldn’t be true without the work of farmers. Worker shortages are an ongoing concern for many Colorado farmers.
“Just knowing whether we’re gonna be able to have labor to plant as well as harvest, later on, is a huge problem for us currently,” Alisha Knapp, farm and market manager for Knapp Farms in Rocky Ford, said.
Olga Ruiz is the state monitor advocate for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment stated, “we need the workers. They’re the ones that provide food to our tables, and we need to all pitch to try and help keep them safe.”
However, the workers talking to Jenifer Rodriguez, managing attorney for Colorado Legal Service’s Migrant Farmworker Division, are saying something different. “There are people out there, growers out there that aren’t taking it seriously,” Rodriguez said.
Many of the farmworkers she’s heard from, H-2A and otherwise, haven’t been given the ability to distance from each other while working, she said. And workers are often scared to publicly criticize their employer’s practices.