Senators successfully preserved protections for farmworkers—including hundreds of thousands of child farmworkers—in bipartisan PRIA reauthorization
Mar 08 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), applauded the enactment of an amendment sponsored by Senator Udall to preserve key protections for children and farmworkers as part of a bipartisan agreement to reauthorize the nation’s pesticide registration program under the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA). The amendment preserves two rules by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the updated Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) and Certification of Pesticide Applicators (CPA) Rule, which provide key safeguards for farmworkers, and particularly child farmworkers, from toxic pesticide exposures. The president signed PRIA with the farmworker protections into law today.
After the EPA proposed weakening these rules, the senators worked to ensure the protections were preserved as part of PRIA reauthorization. The senators worked to secure a bipartisan agreement to reauthorize PRIA and preserve these worker protections, and the agreement first cleared the Senate in June 2018 with unanimous support, but it did not clear the Republican House during the 115th Congress. In the 116th Congress, the agreement passed both the House and the Senate and has now been signed into law.
At the end of 2018, Carper led negotiations with EPA that resulted in several policy concessions from EPA, including a commitment to reverse course on the WPS and CPA rules. This law cements these policies into law.
“Before the last Congress came to a close, I was proud to finalize negotiations with EPA that led to the agency reversing course on a number of problematic policies, including withdrawing a proposal that would have scrapped two crucial farmworker safeguards,” said Senator Carper. “Provisions in this new law build upon those negotiations. The bipartisan PRIA legislation will ensure EPA better protects young farmworkers from harmful pesticides and keeps workers better informed about the chemicals they’re tasked with handling every day. This is a victory for the people whose hard work secures our nation’s food supply, and I especially want to thank Senator Udall and all others involved for their leadership in getting it done.”
“I am proud that our hard work has paid off, and that we were able to get these critical worker protections over the finish-line, while reauthorizing PRIA in a common-sense way,” said Senator Udall. “This bill maintains essential safeguards for the people who toil day in and day out to help put food on all of our tables – safeguards which protect almost half a million young kids working on farms from handling toxic pesticides and guarantee farmworkers have access to safety information about the chemicals they are exposed to on the job. Protecting these critical safety standards was the right thing to do and was a battle worth fighting, and I appreciate the work of so many people inside and outside Congress to get this done.”
“Farmworkers endure some of the harshest working conditions,” said Senator Feinstein. “Reducing exposure to dangerous pesticides like chlorpyrifos that are linked to brain damage is critical to safeguarding the health of farmworkers and their families.”
“PRIA means certainty for agriculture, farmworkers, and consumers,” said Senator Stabenow, top Democrat on of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. “I’m pleased the President acted to sign this long-overdue legislation into law to help farmers protect their crops while also providing important protections for farmworkers and their families.”
“Our commonsense amendment will protect children from toxic pesticide exposure that has been linked to brain damage and provide farmworkers with health and safety information about the pesticides they handle on the job,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Farmworkers are constantly and even chronically exposed to dangerous pesticides - they have the right to these basic protections.”
"Farmworkers who handle dangerous pesticides fought hard for many years to win basic protections such as the right to safety information about the chemicals they're exposed to and an agreed-upon minimum age for handling dangerous pesticides,” Senator Booker said. “With passage of this bill, these critical protections for farmworkers and children will be preserved."
“Agriculture is central to Maryland’s economy and way of life for so many Marylanders,” said Senator Cardin. “If these protections were to be lifted or lightened, the safety of our farmworkers would be in danger. Risking the well-being of individuals is never an acceptable balance of public and business interests. That is why I am proud to have reached a bipartisan solution to reauthorize the EPA’s pesticide registration program while keeping worker safety protections intact.”
"Placing into the law standards protecting agricultural workers and pesticide applicators will end decades of exclusion of farm workers from basic protections that have safeguarded other U.S. workers,” said Teresa Romero, president of the United Farm Workers of America. “We applaud the vision and leadership of Senators Udall, Roberts and Stabenow in rallying their colleagues—across chambers and aisles— to ensure that pesticide registration does not come at the expense of farm worker and consumer protections.”
“The health and safety of families and consumers across the country is inherently tied to the training and protections provided to over 3 million workers, including 500,000 children, who are regularly exposed to pesticides. Thanks to Senators Udall, Stabenow, Roberts, Harris, Booker, Blumenthal, and Feinstein, this bipartisan and unanimously supported legislation is a step towards building healthier communities and protecting the most vulnerable," said Andrea Delgado, Legislative Director of Earthjustice’s Healthy Communities program.
“We are pleased that PRIA has passed and that it underscores the importance of worker safety as a vital part of pesticide registration. We greatly appreciate the efforts of Senators Udall, Stabenow and Roberts to preserve worker health and safety in the face of EPA rollbacks,” said Virginia Ruiz, Director of Occupational and Environmental Health at Farmworker Justice.