Thousands of farm workers face extreme conditions in California

August 25, 2020 by  
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Have you ever thought about the cost of the sweet, fresh fruits you purchase from the store? While produce seems cheap, thousands of low-income laborers at farms are paying a heavy price. In the past few weeks, hundreds of wildfires have broken out in California , filling the air with thick smoke. From the COVID-19 pandemic to wildfires, heatwaves and drought, farm workers in California have been forced to continue working despite unhealthy conditions. Many farm workers who are forced to work under these conditions come from marginalized communities. They are already disadvantaged by the fact that they have no way to shelter from the virus . It is not possible for such workers to harvest produce from their homes. Further, many farms in California are not automated and as a result, farm workers have to manually harvest the fruits and vegetables. Related: Arctic wildfires rage through Siberia According to the Community and Labor Center at the University of California, more than 381,000 people in California work in the frontline agriculture industry. This means that they cannot shelter from COVID-19, as food is considered an essential service. “Whether it’s wildfire , pandemic, drought or storm, farmworkers are out in the field,” said Lucas Zucker, policy and communications director for the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy. “It’s a largely immigrant workforce, many undocumented. Many are from Indigenous communities from southern Mexico who face even greater barriers to accessing services and reporting labor abuses.” Zucker said that the wildfires’ impacts on the workers are far-reaching. Some workers have reported experiencing chest pains and headaches after several days of working under harsh conditions. Each fire season, there are many farm workers who do not receive N95 masks to protect them from smoke. During the pandemic, these masks are even harder to come by. As such, farm workers are left to face the wildfire smoke and the virus in addition to heatwaves and drought. Zucker said employers need to provide workers with safety education and better protective gear. Via The Guardian Image via Bureau of Land Management

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Thousands of farm workers face extreme conditions in California

USDA closes Tiger King zoo for animal welfare violations

August 25, 2020 by  
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This week brought more drama involving the human cast of the popular “Tiger King” series but hopefully some peace for the tigers themselves. Time is up for the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Garvin County, Oklahoma, which is now officially closed to the public after the USDA cited multiple animal welfare violations. The park became infamous when Netflix debuted its “Tiger King” documentary series in March. The show’s behind-the-scenes look at big cat owners was wildly popular, garnering 34.1 million views in the series’ first 10 days after release. “Tiger King” introduced the viewing public to Joe Exotic, former owner of the park, who was sentenced to 22 years in prison for killing five tigers, abusing other animals and trying to hire somebody to assassinate Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue. Related: “Tiger King” drama overshadows abuse of captive tigers in the U.S. But in April, a month after “Tiger King” rocketed to fame, the Humane Society of the United States released footage showing that Exotic’s successor at Greater Wynnewood, Jeffery Lowe, was also abusing tigers. Federal judge Scott L. Palk responded by revoking Lowe’s exhibitor license and giving him 120 days to remove the tigers and vacate the premises. That 120 days is up this week. Palk also granted Baskin control of the 16 acres of land that housed the infamous zoo as part of a $1 million trademark dispute Baskin had filed against the Greater Wynnewood Development Group. Lowe denied any wrongdoing. On a Facebook post, he accused the USDA of “false accusations” against him. He claimed the agency was “folding to pressure” from PETA . “The ‘Tiger King’ phenomenon has definitely changed our lives in many ways,” Lowe said . “It has brought us more attention than any human deserves, good and bad. It has and probably will continue to make us a target of every nutjob and animal rights loon in the world, but we are prepared.” Via VegNews and Yahoo! Image via Capri23auto

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USDA closes Tiger King zoo for animal welfare violations

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