From the Desk of the Executive Director

Washington Update

Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs

Anyone reading this newsletter I am certain will concur in the fact that farmworkers are facing some of the, if not the, most dangerous times ever to be laboring in the fields.  “Essential” in every sense of the word, farmworkers are planting, pruning, and picking the fruits and vegetables our nation needs for its people to stay fed.  Yet so many – too many – insist that agricultural laborers go to work each day mostly without a care about how those workers can protect themselves and their families from the novel coronavirus.  Others care, though, like the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Program (AFOP) members who bring to this community the significant career and supportive services of the ever-successful National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP).

To help bolster that program in this time of pandemic, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (and also Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations) Ranking Minority Member Patty Murray (D-Washington) and House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Virginia) have introduced identical bills in their respective chambers that would, among many other things, authorize an additional $150 million for the program above the already-enacted $92 million in program year 2020 that begins July 1.  Ranking Minority Member Murray and Chairman Scott are working with the appropriating committees to have their legislation incorporated into the second Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act II).  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has said she wants to move the CARES II package by no later than next week.  While no cost estimate is yet available, Speaker Pelosi said the measure could exceed the $2.3 trillion CARES I.  The Senate majority remains cool to the idea of moving another large package and is seeking to add liability protection to any future bill to protect businesses, essentially a non-starter for the Democrats.  So, we must wait to see if commonsense and compromise can prevail over entrenched political and policy positions.  Throughout this process, you can be certain that AFOP will continue to push for the betterment of the most vulnerable and essential among us: our nation’s farmworkers.