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US: Farm workers win long-fought battle for pesticide worker protections under new EPA rules

Farm workers across the nation celebrated a big victory as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announces protections against unsafe pesticide use for farm workers nationwide. The action by the Obama administration ends decades of exclusion for farm workers from pesticide rules that have safeguarded other U.S. workers. The announcement coincides with the 50th anniversary of California farm workers joining together to fight for basic labor protections.

“We have worked with President Obama, EPA Administrator McCarthy, ‎Secretary Perez and others in the administration to end decades-long discriminatory labor practices against farm workers. The same rules that have protected other American workers from dangerous cancer- and birth-defect causing pesticides are finally going to protect farm workers under the new EPA regulations. Our families and communities will now be able to work with reassurance that the work they are doing will not unknowingly harm themselves or their families. It’s been a long time coming, but it has come today,” said United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez.

The new EPA pesticide rules include:
· Requiring all pesticide applicators be at least 18 years old
· Creating whistleblower protections so farm workers can confidentially submit complaints over pesticide abuses
· Providing pesticide application records for all farm workers for the past two years
· Easy access to all workers or their representatives for records involving exposure to hazardous chemicals
· Posting pesticide hazard information in central locations, in both English and Spanish

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 10,000 to 20,000 physician-diagnosed pesticide poisonings occur each year among the approximately 2 million U.S. agricultural workers. Many of these protections are already afforded to farm workers under UFW contracts with growers and union-supported laws in the states of California and Washington state. These protections will now extend to farm workers working in fields across the country.

For more information
United Farm Worker of America 

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