Florida’s Governor Rick Scott recently vetoed funding that would have helped a minority community that has been exposed to pesticides and toxins get the health care assistance that they desperately need! What about being sick and not having access to critical health care does he not understand?
Governor Rick Scott does not understand what it means to be a farmworker! He does not understand the personal risks farmworkers take every day in order for us to have an abundant supply of food. Their long time exposure to pesticides can result in chronic illnesses that can be both debilitating and expensive. A high price to pay for a low-paying job.
Recently, Florida’s Governor Rick Scott used his line item veto to cut $500,000 from the state budget that would have helped the former Lake Apopka farmworkers and the environmental justice community in the area of Apopka, Florida. Governor Scott’s veto of a $500,000 budget allocation to the local clinic denies the people not only the needed assistance for much needed health care, but also the validation that they have been seeking for years for their contributions to the economy and for their personal losses and suffering.
Just north of the tourist mecca of Orlando, the town of Apopka, and the former farmlands of Lake Apopka, has been a vital element in the food system within the United States since the 1940s.
African-American, Haitian, and Hispanic farmworkers worked the land to ensure that the United States was fed every day. They were exposed to deadly and toxic pesticide so toxic that many of them have since been banned. Some of these pesticides were found to be the root cause in the largest in-land bird death in the United States, as well as of the severe physical abnormalities and deformities discovered within alligator populations living along the shores of Lake Apopka.
Since the closing of these farmlands in 1998, former Lake Apopka farmworkers have had to deal with grief, loss of loved ones and chronic disease, some of which have been linked to pesticide exposure. Many farmworkers, their children, and their grand-children, are feeling the effects of long-term and generational pesticide exposure. Many have lupus, cancer, diabetes… but do not have the access or resources to obtain medical assistance. More than just sickness, former farmworkers are dying every month, every week, and every day as a result of their commitment to feed America.
After years of being neglected, ignored, and 'invisible', this veto of such a small amount of money is a deep disappointment. We are asking our friends, allies, and supporters of farmworkers to send letters to Governor Scott in opposition to his veto and in support of the farmworkers who fed us all and who paid for it with their health.
Join us in creating a more equal world for farmworkers and a fair and just food system! Please sign our petition and share it with others.
Sí, se puede! Yes, we can! Thank you!
Tell Gov. Rick Scott to Fund Health Care for Florida Farmworkers
Dear Governor Scott:
I am writing to you in support of a recent letter received by your office from the Farmworker Association of Florida. As an ally and supporter of farmworkers within Central Florida, I am deeply disappointed to learn of your recent veto of an allocation of $500,000 to the Community Health Center’s Apopka Family Health Center in Central Florida.
I do not know if you are familiar with what has happened in the Apopka Community over the past 14 years, but the situation has been very difficult, particularly for the former Lake Apopka farmworkers. These people continue to suffer from the long-term effects of now banned pesticides that they were exposed to when they worked on the former muck farms on Lake Apopka. Many former farmworkers are unable to fully function, because of ailments they have associated with their years, even decades, of pesticide exposure. As well, their children and grandchildren are suffering as a result of their exposure to now banned organochlorine pesticides and many have chronic disabilities. There are those that, in addition, are further exposed to environmental contamination because they live right next to landfills that receive construction waste.
I feel it is as if the plight of these people is being ignored, and they are being left to die. Frankly, $500,000 in this community can mean the difference between life and death for many. I am stunned that even with the support of the Florida House and the Florida Senate, you have opted to veto these funds. I believe that the needs of this community should take precedence over other matters. This issue is as basic as valuing humanity. We should not have this type of situation happening anywhere in our country. If you do not understand the gravity of this situation, then most likely you do not know enough about it. Please do not stop with just understanding this situation either. Make the Apopka community and former farmworkers one of your greatest priorities. They deserve attention, and, literally, the power you have in your hands could be what saves this community.
Millions of dollars were spent to study the alligator abnormalities and the bird deaths on Lake Apopka, yet there have been no scientific studies to address the health of the people. It was unfair when the farms of Lake Apopka were closed by Florida’s government in 1998, and 3,000 farmworkers were left without jobs, in poor health, and without homes, but it is more unfair that these farmworkers’ needs continue to be ignored 14 years later. The years of hard work done by the Apopka Community and their continued survival against all odds deserves not just a hand-out, but really deserves to be honored. Please reconsider your veto of this $500,000 to the Community Health Center’s Apopka Family Health Center.
We stand with Central Florida farmworkers, and we cannot allow injustices to go by unchallenged!