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How Will Florida Farmworkers Fare Under The Biden Administration?

Tom Vilsack served as secretary of agriculture during the Obama administration and has been a trusted adviser to President-elect Joe Biden.
Tom Vilsack served as secretary of agriculture during the Obama administration and has been a trusted adviser to President-elect Joe Biden.

President-elect Joe Biden has promised new protections for farm workers. The leader of a Florida farm labor group is eager to see if he follows through.

On the campaign trail, Joe Biden proposed giving farmworkers overtime and sick-pay. Many workers come from Mexico and Central America on visas. The president-elect would allow these workers to earn legal status to remain in the U.S.

From Biden's campaign website:

Farm workers – who are disproportionately Latino and immigrant workers – have always been essential to working our farms and feeding our country. As President, Biden will ensure farm workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, regardless of immigration status. He will work with Congress to provide legal status based on prior agricultural work history, ensure they can earn paid sick time, and require that labor and safety rules, including overtime, humane living conditions, and protection from pesticide and heat exposure, are strictly enforced.

Gerardo Reyes Chavez is with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which represents about 30,000 farmworkers in Florida. He says farm labor is just as important as doctors or first responders.

“We should be treated as essential workers fully...because that is only fair. If we feed the nation, we also need to be able to have that kind of backup," he said.

“Nine out of ten tomatoes that people consume in northern states, especially now in the winter, come from us. That alone should be enough reason to make sure that this community is not risking more than what they have to.”

Biden has picked Tom Vilsack to be his Secretary of Agriculture, a role Vilsack previously held in the Obama administration.

While he worked to improve working conditions on farms, critics accused Vilsack of being too close to large agribusiness companies.

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