State Senator Anna Caballero said Friday the Legislature and governor's office have commissioned a study on farmworker health, as the industry fears for their safety amid the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking at an online event for the California Food and Farming Network, Caballero, a moderate Democrat representing the Salinas Valley, said the study is already "in the process."
The research will update a study performed by UC Merced 20 years ago and aims to provide new insights into the “basic health” of farmworkers. In March, Caballero announced she had secured $1.5 million for the study. Researchers were scheduled to begin collecting interviews this month and to publish the report in 2022.
Caballero added that she has also supported a study on the health of children of farmworkers to investigate the long-term impacts of exposure to farming activities. She argued as well for providing undocumented workers legal status, which would give them access to benefits like workers’ compensation, disability and unemployment.
On the subject of testing farmworkers as they perform an essential service during the crisis, Caballero noted that some of the 86 new testing sites for COVID-19 the governor announced last week will be in the agriculturally connected Monterey County cities of Salinas and Greenfield, as well as other rural and disadvantaged areas.
Caballero first came to Salinas as an attorney representing farmworkers before becoming mayor and serving in both houses of the Legislature as well as cabinet positions in Gov. Jerry Brown's administration.