Videos Follow Last Week’s Launch of Commissioner Fried’s Heat Illness Prevention Campaign
Tallahassee, Fla. – As the fall harvest season begins, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) are launching a nine-part video series created to provide guidance on COVID-19 safety precautions for farmworkers. The videos follow the launch of Commissioner Fried’s farmworker heat illness prevention campaign last week.
“Florida’s farmworkers feed our families and communities, but face an elevated risk of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19, and often lack access to health resources. It’s critical that our farmworkers have the guidance, training, and support to be protected against COVID-19 while doing these tough jobs,” said Commissioner Fried. “FDACS is proud to partner with UF/IFAS to produce these safety videos to help farmworkers, essential members of our communities, stay healthy throughout this pandemic.”
The videos, created in partnership with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension, are available in both English and Spanish and feature COVID-19 safety guidance for farmworkers. This includes best practices on using a mask while working, ways to sanitize hands and work surfaces effectively, and strategies to physically distance during work, transportation, and after work hours. The video series can be viewed here in English and here in Spanish, and a printable version of the safety guidance can be viewed and downloaded here.
“Preventing and reducing the spread of COVID-19 amongst farmworkers is critically important for Florida’s food supply and agriculture industry,” said Dr. Saqib Mukhtar, Associate Dean at UF/IFAS Extension. “During times of economic downturn when tourism suffers, agriculture becomes our state’s main economic driver. To keep that engine running, we have to make sure Florida agricultural producers and farmworkers are trained on the issue, using scientifically proven methods, which we’ve highlighted in this video series.”
“The ability of farmworkers to social distance, sanitize when needed, and take other preventive actions to protect themselves from COVID-19 is essential as they work to feed America’s families during this pandemic,” said Oscar Londoño, Executive Director of WeCount!, a Homestead-based immigrant workers’ center. “We appreciate Commissioner Fried, the Florida Department of Agriculture, and UF/IFAS prioritizing these needs and developing these videos to help protect the health and wellbeing of farmworkers.”
Heat Illness Campaign: Last week, Commissioner Fried and FDACS launched a farmworker heat illness prevention campaign to bring awareness to the devastating effects of heat illnesses. Agriculture workers die from heat-related illnesses at a rate 20 times higher than the U.S. workforce average. More than 600 Americans die each year from hyperthermia, one of the nation’s deadliest weather-related health outcomes. The bilingual awareness campaign features shareable graphics and videos, and can be found at FDACS.gov/HeatIllness.
Background: Throughout COVID-19, Commissioner Fried has worked to ensure agricultural workers were supported. In April, she submitted a 10-page report to the Governor’s re-opening task force which included recommending that all farmworkers have adequate PPE, access to healthcare and COVID-19 testing, and are able to practice social distancing at farms and food processing facilities. With her encouragement, many agricultural producers have been following these recommendations. Commissioner Fried also issued safety guidance for food workers in English and Spanish, and provided essential worker letters for farmworkers during the pandemic.