Not everyone at the frontlines of the public health crisis is a doctor or nurse. Some folks are the farmers making sure you can put food on the table.
The ongoing public health crisis has shown us just how important the work of those who provide essential services is. While we thank our doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals, there is perhaps another group of people that we tend to forget: our farmers. If it weren't for them, our nation's food supply chains would have completely choked. We wouldn't have had any other means to make sure we could put food on the table for our families. Therefore, in recognition of their unwavering commitment, some folks in Salinas, California, held a caravan to thank the farmers who are still working extremely hard to harvest the country's crops. Sal Lua, a photographer, shared images of the procession to his Instagram account.
Californians, driving through the farms in the dozens, held banners and posters while peeking out of their car windows. "Gracias," some of the posters read. Others stated in Spanish, "Thank you for your work," or, "Thank you for your labor." The fact that these posters were in Spanish is a recognition of another truth about the United States - most of our manual labor is imported. It is only because of free and fair immigration laws that we are able to sustain ourselves and our agricultural industry. Without the workers and farmers coming in from Mexico and other parts of South America, there is no doubt that our farms would bear no harvests.
The Center for Farmworker Families, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of farmers and their loved ones, recognized this. Thus, they helped organize the caravan to let these hard workers know that their labor was deeply appreciated. After all, if we can take to our balconies to clap and sing in honor of our health workers, surely we could do the same to make our country's farmers feel equally acknowledged. Every single day that they go out to simply do their jobs, they risk contracting the novel Coronavirus and therefore, their lives. Many of these workers earn minimum wages and would sadly have no means to recuperate if they were to catch the deadly illness.
In honor of their sacrifice, hordes of residents of Salinas, California, took to the region's farms and made sure the farmworkers knew exactly how important they are. Many of the photos depict the absolute joy the farmers felt when they see the caravan; some raised their hands while others recorded the moment on their smartphones. Needless to say, they have now ascertained the crucial role they play in the American ecosystem as well. Without our agriculture, we would have to rely entirely on imports, which would make life incredibly expensive for many of us. Users on Instagram too have loved the initiative. One user commented, "Came upon this and may I say, this is badass! I literally teared up. Thank God for these people [who] bring food to our table."
In the United States, "illegal" immigrants comprise a large chunk of those employed in farmwork. However, the irony of being both illegal and essential is not lost on our country's farmers. The lie that immigrants crossing over the border in order to steal Americans' jobs has also become apparent to the nation, Rick Naerebout, chief executive of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, believes. "The fact that there is that cognitive recognition that we have to allow these individuals to travel to and from work because they are critical — that’s the complete opposite of what they’ve heard for nearly their entire lives, that they have taken away opportunities from Americans," he said in an interview with The New York Times. "At the highest level of government, now we’ve seen this be recognized. Whether it’s formal or informal, there’s this acknowledgment that you’re okay."
If it takes a public health crisis for us to recognize the important role that migrant workers play in our country's economy, then so be it. However, when we return to "normality," we must continue to recognize these farmworkers' hard work. The Center for Farmworker Families works with migrant farming communities in order to ensure their rights and "financial and nutritional well-being and independence." Should you like to support their efforts, you can make a donation on their website. At this moment in time, it is more imperative than ever that Americans come forward to recognize the faces, the calloused hands, and the tired foreheads behind the food on their tables. No longer should we stand for their continued oppression.
Thank the ones who feed you 💛 pic.twitter.com/9pL2p4UD2J— Shaggie (@Shaggie_Tweets) April 20, 2020