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Uncovering America's methamphetamine history; PA Early Intervention programs vital for child development; measuring long-term impact of the O.J. Simpson trial on media literacy.

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Housing advocates fear rural low-income folks who live in aging USDA housing could be forced out, small towns are eligible for grants to enhance civic participation, and North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues.

North Carolina farmworkers and growers call for better working conditions

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Wednesday, October 25, 2023   

Migrant farmworkers and small family farmers in North Carolina got together to form an alliance to advocate for sustainable agricultural supply chains, expand and maintain union farmworker jobs and enact more protections to combat exploitative practices.

Santiago Ramirez Martinez, an H-2A temporary agricultural worker in North Carolina, said foreign nationals like him come to the U.S. to fill essential, seasonal ag jobs which in his words "produce a lot of what is brought to the table for American consumers."

He, like others, is calling for stakeholders to adopt better practices and improve the global supply chain to be more "equitable and sustainable." Martinez does not speak English and the following was translated:

"He feels wages are very low. The larger corporations that dictate the price are the ones that are making the profit and the same thing with the growers that they don't get very much money for their crops and therefore they can't pay the workers more so it's more about the larger corporations."

Martinez pointed out larger corporations not only buy produce from growers at what he calls "extremely low" prices, but they also determine what is planted in the fields. He contended there is a disconnect between how much growers are given for a crop, versus what they end up selling for at market.

He added it has a direct impact on what workers take home, leaving some feeling undervalued. While H-2A workers do have rights, Martinez feels more needs to be done.

Cruz Diaz Montalvo has been a temporary agricultural worker for 32 years. He, like many other farmworkers, joined forces with growers in North Carolina to seek solutions to ensure better job security and protection.

Montalvo said he is hopeful the alliance will bring about more regulations and better treatment of workers. Montalvo's words were also translated.

"He has no benefits, no pension. He wants to be seen and recognized for the work that he has done and hopefully he would be able to become a citizen as he spent the majority of his life here or at least get some kind of a pension."

Montalvo added with stakeholders working together and listening to one another, he hopes concrete demands are established to support workers and farms in North Carolina.


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