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Beating the Heat: Protecting Farmworkers in New Jersey’s Extreme Temperatures

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

As the weather gets hotter due to climate change, many migrant farmworkers face more heat challenges. They work long hours in hot fields, and when they finish, many go back to crowded places without cool air. Without enough breaks and water, many of these workers can get very tired or sick from the heat. At CATA, we educate workers on heat-related hazards and their rights to a secure workplace.

The Heavy Toll of Heat

Farm work is taxing enough without sweltering temperatures adding health hazards like dehydration, dizziness, and nausea. As heat waves worsen, the dangers compound...

Rest breaks are essential so workers can hydrate and cool off. Access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities provides lifesaving respite from the heat. Shade shelters offer critical relief too. But securing these basic protections remains an uphill battle.

Overheated housing compounds the risks. Returning home to stagnant, oven-like rooms after 10+ hour shifts puts farmworkers’ health in jeopardy. Providing adequate cooling should be mandatory, not optional.

Crops Wither, Earnings Dwindle

When extreme weather decimates harvests, workers have fewer employment days to earn income. Lost crops from flooding or droughts directly impact their livelihoods.

An Industry Outpaced by Climate Change

Despite some improvements, many growers still put profits over worker welfare. Minimum standards must be made compulsory through stepped-up enforcement.

Government oversight, from housing inspections to monitoring break laws, should increase to safeguard farmworkers against preventable tragedies.

Supporting Those Who Feed Us

Farmworkers nourish our communities through back-breaking labor. We owe them protection from climate change’s harshest effects.

CATA educates workers about heat risks, prevention, and their rights. We also organize for policies that shield this essential workforce. Everyone benefits when farmworkers have safe, dignified working conditions.

With climate change unavoidable, we must adapt workplaces for extreme heat. Farmworkers deserve to stay healthy while feeding our nation.

Their lives should never be sacrificed for the sake of harvests. Proactive planning and compassionate leadership will enable the agriculture industry to thrive alongside the workers who sustain it.

Discover how climate change endangers New Jersey farmworkers in this illuminating article from Michael Sol Warren and Karen Yi of WNYC/Gothamist. Their timely reporting is just the first in a vital series investigating the impacts of rising heat on the state's agriculture industry.

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