Eugene-Based Organization Awarded EPA Grant To Help Farmworkers

Nov 8, 2019

Credit Melorie Begay/KLCC News

The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP), a $30,000 Environment Justice grant. The Eugene-headquartered organization will use the funds to help Benton County and Lane County farmworkers.

When folks are sitting at the table ready to eat there’s often a disconnect between the meal in front of them and the labor it took to get there, said Ashley Chesser. She’s the communications and development director for NCAP.

Ashley Chesser
Credit Ashley Chesser

One of the areas NCAP focuses on is advocacy for farmworkers who work with and around pesticides. They advocate for farmers to switch to more organic methods of farming.

Farmworkers, Chesser said, face unique challenges when it comes to pesticide exposure.

“Labor housing is often in adjacent to the fields and so you have a farmworker who might accidently expose his children if he comes home and doesn’t take off works clothes or his work boots and he gives his kids a hug,” she said.

The goal is to create toolkits to educate workers to reduce exposure, and identify potential policy changes.  

“We’re interested in seeing what [farmworkers] self-identify as needing help with that they don’t currently have the power to change," she said.

Most farmworkers on large farms tend to be from Latinx communities, Chesser said. So they'll ensure their materials are available in Spanish and other Indigenous languages.

A 2018 Oregon State University study estimated there were more than 3,000 migrant and seasonal workers in Lane and Benton counties.