May 05, 2021  |  VIEW IN BROWSER


Retracing our Roots: History of MSFW Inclusion in Workforce Development Programs

Kendra Moesle, Director of Workforce Development
May 3, 2021

As part of AFOP’s 50th anniversary, we are celebrating the long history of farmworkers’ fight for equal opportunity.

Much is well-known about this chapter of American history.  Filipino & Latinx civil rights leaders Larry Itliong, Cesar Chavez, and Dolores Huerta are loved and celebrated as the original champions of farmworkers.  Thanks to their leadership and hard work, fights like the Delano grape boycott and Salinas lettuce strike were won, securing the case for farm laborers’ rights in the public eye.  Recognizing the import of their contributions, President Barack Obama declared March 31st as National Cesar Chavez Day in 2014, and this year Governor Newsom declared April 10th as Dolores Huerta Day in the state of California.  First Lady Jill Biden recently traveled to Forty Acres, the former headquarters for the UFW in Delano, CA, to mark Cesar Chavez Day and to demonstrate the President’s support for farmworkers’ rights.

Less is known about political reformers’ efforts to fight for farmworkers, though it is part of that same grassroots story, woven in and through its familiar threads.  According to Anne B. W. Effland, the “awakening public conscience” of the 1950’s intersected with “the increasing power of reformers in government” which, together, began to turn the tide against commercial agriculture.

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Inside AFOP

AFOP Turns a Half Century 


Happy 50th birthday AFOP!  50 years serving America’s farmworkers.
Photo Credit © Center for Employment Training

DOL Awards NFJP Grants Following Limited Competition


After January’s limited competition for a handful of NFJP so-called “bridge” grants, DOL has informed AFOP members of its awards.  Winning back their grants are Center for Employment Training, of California; New England Farm Workers Council, for Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut-Rhode Island; and Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc., for Hawaii.  Congratulations, all!
Photo Credit (c) MET, Inc.

MET Success Story:  A Moving Handwritten Thank You Letter


In our work serving farmworkers, moments come along that fill us up and help keep us going.  For MET staff, one of those moments came in the form of a handwritten letter from NFJP participant Henry Balderas, a seasonal farmworker who worked at a cotton gin.

Henry was from south Texas, orphaned at age 17 when his adoptive mom passed away.  He’d been placed in special education classes and had not advanced beyond 5th grade.  Turning to alcohol and drugs in his teens, Henry was ultimately committed to state prison where he served a significant stretch of time.  Upon his release, Henry was determined to turn his life around and enrolled with MET in order to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a truck driver.  “I was able to achieve my goal on Feb 2nd, 2021,” he wrote.  “I received my C.D.L. and now I am a truck driver for Hasty Trucking.  I give thanks to my dear Lord and also MET….  May God Bless You All in Every Step You All Take.”

Many thanks to Rachel Salazar of MET, Inc., for contributing to this story.

Greensburg, Kansas:  A Lasting Partnership

Kansas SER Corp

Many people remember May 4, 2007, when 95% of Greensburg, Kansas, was destroyed by an EF5 tornado. This event completely changed the face of Greensburg.  Although a great tragedy, the community set out to rebuild with sustainability in mind, and there were many green efforts made in their buildings and infrastructure. Greensburg is now home to the most LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings per capita in the U.S.  All the electricity used in the city is powered by wind and is 100% renewable.  Greensburg is also the first city in the U.S. to use all LEED streetlights.

One Kansas SER NFJP participant landed an internship with the City of Greensburg.  NFJP Client Service Agent Mike Medina seized the opportunity to reach out to the City Administrator and discuss formalizing their partnership with SER’s On-the-Job Training (OJT) program.  It was a productive discussion that ended with the City of Greensburg signing an OJT contract with Kansas SER Corp.

Greensburg City Administrator Stacy Barnes said it was a no-brainer: “The process for the OJT program was very easy. [SER Corp] was great to work with and the paperwork very minimal. This program was beneficial to our organization as it helped reduce initial employee wage cost to us. We are glad to have been able to hire and retain a local person who was able to use this SER Corp program.”

Don Kuchnicki Podcast Highlights Former Migrant Farmworker on Google Talk


Don Kuchnicki in his podcast, A Passion to Serve, recently re-told the story of Dr. Felipe Lopez Sustaita, Executive Director of the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan, who was part of the Talks at Google seminar series.  Dr. Lopez Sustaita was self-effacing in his remarks, recalling how he rode to college on his sister’s coattails at the age of 16, barely knowing how to read or write.  He also shared some of his experiences as a migrant farmworker and how it has influenced both his personal and professional decision making.

Listen here

Farmworker Health & Safety

AFOP Health & Safety Celebrates another Successful Long-Sleeve Shirt Drive


During this year’s National Farmworker Awareness Week, AFOP Health & Safety launched its annual Long-Sleeved Shirt Drive with a twist, adding a “Shirts for $1” campaign.  As in other years, farmworker advocates were encouraged to drop off donations of new or used long-sleeved shirts at various drop-off locations across the country.  However, for those who preferred to donate from the safety of their homes, shirts were made available to purchase for farmworkers, for just $1 each.

The campaign was a huge success, collecting 12,417 shirts and $3,761.20 in donations.  Thank you to all of our members and partners who participated!  Visit our facebook page to see photos of farmworkers already receiving their new shirts!

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AFOP Health & Safety to Celebrate National Farmworker Women’s Health Week


From May 9-15, AFOP Health & Safety will be leading a week of observation and advocacy around farmworker women’s health.  Daily messages will be shared across social media that highlight the dangers farmworker women face as a result of exposure to pesticide residues.  This is a national effort designed to amplify farmworker women’s voices, so please join us!


•             Follow us on social media as @afophealth (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram)
•             Share our daily posts on social media
•             Join our Instagram Livestream on May 12th
•             Create your own content using the campaign's editable branding
•             Create an event to raise awareness about farmworker women's health

View and download the toolkit here.

Chlorpyrifos Ordered to be Banned by 9th Circuit Court of Appeals


On April 29th, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals responded to EarthJustice’s lawsuit with a ruling that ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban all food uses of chlorpyrifos or retain only those uses it can find safe for workers and children. The court gave the agency 60 days from the end of the case to revoke the tolerances — chlorpyrifos should be banned this summer.

Chlorpyrifos is acutely toxic and associated with neurodevelopmental harms in children. Prenatal exposures to chlorpyrifos are associated with lower birth weight, reduced IQ, loss of working memory, attention disorders, and delayed motor development.

People are exposed through residues on food and in drinking water, and by toxic spray drift from pesticide applications.  Farmworkers are exposed to it from mixing, handling, and applying the pesticide; as well as from entering fields where chlorpyrifos was recently sprayed.
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Grist / Doug Mills-Pool / Getty Images

White House Announces Environmental Justice Council Members

White House

On March 29th, the White House announced the members of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council – among them, Andrea Delgado from the United Farm workers Foundation. 

Cecilia Martinez, White House Senior Director for Environmental Justice, said, “The advisory council builds off the important work of EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and will provide input and recommendations to senior leaders across government as this administration works to clean up toxic pollution, create good-paying, union jobs in all communities, and give every child in America the chance to grow up healthy.”  The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) will fund and provide administrative support for the WHEJAC.

More information about NEJAC can be found here

The Economic Recovery – Building Back Better

White House Releases Guide on American Rescue Plan Resources for Low-Income People

Following the passage of the American Rescue Plan, the Biden administration created a convenient, one-page guide to resources that can help low-income get back on their feet during the COVID-19 economic recovery.  The guide highlights links and phone numbers that people can call/access to obtain health insurance, food, cash, the COVID-19 vaccine, tax credits, and more.

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New Report Supports American Rescue Plan Priorities

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The pandemic and its economic fallout have exposed glaring weaknesses in our nation’s economy that leave millions of people unprotected in bad economic times and prevent them from fully benefiting from a strong economy in good times.  The recently enacted American Rescue Plan, along with relief measures enacted in 2020, will provide substantial help during this crisis to tens of millions of people struggling to make ends meet and access health care.

The reason for such large-scale stopgap measures is clear and sobering: our underlying policies tolerate very high levels of poverty and hardship when households lose jobs or have low incomes, whether this occurs because the economy enters a recession, their employer goes out of business, a family member cannot work due to illness, or the jobs people hold pay low wages.  Millions of people face these situations every year, though the impacts of our policy gaps fall disproportionately on people of color.

Read the full report

USDA Increasing SNAP Benefits with Pandemic Relief Funds

The Hill

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it will be increasing SNAP benefits by 15 percent through funds from the American Rescue Plan.  This increase will provide around $3.5 billion to 41 million people in households experiencing food insecurity, working out to an average $28 more per person every month, varying from state to state.

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USDA Releases Statement on American Families Plan


On April 28th, President Biden announced his American Families Plan, which proposes to invest in American families by cutting childcare costs, instituting universal preschool, subsidizing college tuition, and more.  At the same time, it would “reform the tax code,” eliminating loopholes like capital gains tax breaks “that reward wealth over work.”

The US Department of Agriculture released a statement to head off concerns from America’s farming families, worried that their farms would now be taxed the same as any wealthy estate: 

“This plan includes a special protection for family-owned farms and businesses. It defers any tax liability on family farms as long as the farm remains family-owned and operated. No tax is due if the farm stays in the family. No one should have to sell a family farm they inherit to pay taxes and the President’s tax reform guarantees that.

This plan also excludes the first $2 million of gains per couple ($2.5 million if the farm also includes the family home) from capital gains tax and heirs continue to get step up in basis on those first $2 million in gains. If an heir decides to sell the family farm, the first $2 million in gains is tax free.”

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Meet the New Labor Secretary


Marty Walsh was sworn in as the 29th U.S. Secretary of Labor on March 23rd – the final member of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet to be confirmed.  Upon his induction, Secretary Marty Walsh laid out his vision for American workers, including creating good jobs, bolstering workforce training, and strengthening protections for workers’ rights, safety, and pay.

Following the announcement of Biden’s American Jobs Plan on March 31st, Secretary Walsh released the following statement:  “As a former construction worker, I know a good job can change your life. As a former mayor, I know that these investments will transform struggling communities and grow local economies.  As Labor Secretary, I stand ready to make sure these opportunities reach workers from all walks of life and in every corner of our country.”

Read more about Secretary Walsh’s vision
Getty Images

DOL to Update NFJP Allocation Formula in Program Year 2021


The US Department of Labor determines National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP) grant allocations via an allotment formula.  This formula is based on each region’s relative share of migrant and seasonal farmworkers.  In Program Year 2021 (beginning July 1, 2021) the data used in calculating that formula will again be updated, potentially affecting grantees’ next round of funding. 

DOL presented their findings in a Workforce GPS webinar on Wednesday, May 5th.

More info here

New Cohort to Provide SNAP Employment & Training Services

Employment & Training Reporter
May 3, 2021

The National Association of Workforce Boards named 15 local workforce development boards to be the first cohort in a technical assistance project on providing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program employment and training services.  Assistance will be offered on becoming providers or intermediaries for these services, understanding the core components and procedures of this program, understanding data requirements and engaging SNAP recipients in services.

Participating workforce boards include: Kentuckiana Works; Philadelphia Works; New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Development Board, of Virginia; Employ Milwaukee, Inc.; Stanislaus County Workforce Development, of California; Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council, Inc.; Workforce Alliance, of Pennsylvania; Western Virginia Workforce Development Board; EmployIndy, of Indiana; Workforce Connections, of Nevada; Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board; Fox Valley Workforce Development Board, of Wisconsin; Partner4Work, of Pennsylvania; Workforce Southwest Washington; and Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council, of Washington.

Read about the program here
Photo credit:

Federal Investigation Finds Oregon Labor Contractor Guilty of Violating Federal Law

After a serious car accident involving 15 migrant farmworkers, USDOL’s Wage & Hour Division found JMG Labor Contractor of Salem in violation of multiple federal laws.  The driver had a suspended license, inadequate insurance, and failed to register as the farm contractor’s employee.  JMG had contracted out the workers to Holiday Tree Farms, a large Corvallis-based grower of Christmas trees, even though JMG’s registration as a certified labor contractor had expired.

 “The loss of three lives and the serious injuries suffered by other workers in this case is tragic and devastating for the workers and their grieving families,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Carrie Aguilar in Portland, Oregon.  “Laws exist to try to prevent such terrible situations, and the trauma they inflict on an entire community.  We encourage all employers to review their operations and make certain they are complying with the law.”

The division determined that JMG violated the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, for which it has paid $32,500 in penalties.

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DOL Fines Maine Tomato Grower

The U.S. Department of Labor recovered $245,351 in back wages for 117 employees after discovering that a Maine greenhouse employer, Backyard Farms LLC, had fired its domestic workers to make room for foreign H-2A workers.  It had also violated the law by employing temp agencies instead of certified farm labor contractors to find its workers, and by paying the U.S. workers lower wages than its subsequent H-2A workers.  USDOL fined the company $92,114 in civil money penalties.

“The U.S. Department of Labor continues to enforce the requirements of agricultural guest worker program to ensure employers do not terminate or fail to offer jobs to U.S. workers in favor of foreign workers, and do not pay any workers in corresponding employment less than their hard-earned wages,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Daniel Cronin in Manchester, New Hampshire.

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DOL Launches Spanish Translation of to Expand Awareness of Workers’ Rights

The U.S. Department of Labor announced the launch of its Spanish-language translation of, a website dedicated to informing workers of their rights and federal workplace protections.

“The launch of in Spanish advances the objective of Executive Order 13166, which encourages federal agencies to provide meaningful access to information to persons with limited English proficiency,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Tanya L. Goldman. “Language should never be a barrier to workplace equity, and we hope that making this material available in Spanish will reduce language barriers and help Spanish-speaking workers understand their rights in American workplaces.”

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Maria Ines Sanchez, center, and most of her family, seen in Thermal on Feb. 24, have contracted the coronavirus. (Allison Zaucha for The Washington Post)

Death in the Prime of life: Covid-19 Proves Especially Lethal to Younger Latinos

Washington Post

The coronavirus has disproportionately carved a path through the nation’s Latino neighborhoods, as it has in African American, Native American and Pacific Islander communities. Even more stunning: the deadly efficiency with which the virus has targeted Latinos in their 30s and 40s.

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Fact Sheets on Immigrants and COVID Aid

National Immigration Law Center

In response to concerns of access barriers some immigrants are facing regarding documentation requests prior to receiving COVID-19 vaccination, and individuals inappropriately being sent bills for COVID-19 vaccine fees, HRSA developed two fact sheets to help both patients and providers better understand their rights and responsibilities regarding access to COVID-19 vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccines are free to all individuals living in the United States and these resources will help to empower patients and educate providers on this fact.

Fact Sheets: Read more

The National Center for Farmworker Health Announces COVID-19 Grant Opportunity

The National Center for Farmworker Health (NCFH) has announced the availability of $1.2 million in grants that will facilitate vaccine access and continue COVID-19 prevention and mitigation efforts for farmworker families.  Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis with an expected project period beginning as early as 4/16/21 through 9/29/21. 

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Farmworker Children

Children in the Fields Campaign Launches its Annual Art & Essay Contest for MSFW Children

On April 1st, AFOP’s Children in the Fields Campaign announced the start of its annual Art & essay contest.  The theme is “WE ARE THE HARVEST OF HOPE: WE WILL CHANGE THE WORLD / Somos cosecha de esperanza: Cambiaremos el mundo.” 
Similar to last year, there will be three prizes offered in each category, and the first place winners will automatically be entered in a raffle to win a tablet.  The deadline for entries is July 15th.
Guidelines and applications are available in English and Spanish on our website.
Photo courtesy of

The United States Is Falling Behind in Bilingual Education, Why Does It Matter?


There are huge developmental advantages for dual language learners. In fact, kids in English as a Second Language classes are capable of winning science fairs because children immersed in courses in their native language not only feel empowered academically, socially, and emotionally experts say, sometimes they even surpass their “regular education” peers when the programs are continuous and of good quality.    
Bilingual education — the practice of teaching non-English-speaking children in their native language while they learn English — helps Latino students advance. Still, many districts have fought to keep foreign languages out of schools. 
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Farmers Have More Mouths to Feed. Bring in the Robots

Washington Post

The number of people working as farmers, ranchers and other agricultural professionals is expected to drop 6 percent by 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industry has already faced decades of job declines in the United States, even as agricultural production rises to feed a growing population. 

Read More

Centra de los Derechos del Migrante Launches Job Portal

Farmworker Justice

Farmworker Justice recently reported the launch of a new migrant worker job portal, by the Centro de los Derechos del Migrante (CDM), with a mission to “empower workers in their search for job opportunities.” The portal allows workers to search for H-2A and H-2B jobs directly while also learning about worker rights and protections.

Visit the portal
The AFOP Washington Newsline (ISSN# 1056-8565) is produced by the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP), a national federation of agencies serving migrant and seasonal farmworkers. AFOP’s mission is to improve the quality of life for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families by promoting self-sufficiency through employment and training opportunities, educational attainment, and health and safety.

The publication is funded by subscriptions and the members of AFOP. The Washington Newsline receives no financial support from the federal government. Staff may be reached by calling (202) 963-3200.
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Direct: (202) 963-3200

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