New documentary on farmworkers looks at their increasingly difficult role during the pandemic

A new documentary “Essential Farm Workers” looks at the role of farmworkers during the pandemic, and their lack of access to, among other things, Personal Protection Equipment. Horizonte host, Jose Cardenas talked to filmmaker, Jesus Hernandez. 

Hernandez clarified that the message behind the documentary is that many tend to forget the front-line workers who are out in the fields, exposing themselves so that we can have food on our tables. 

“The food on our table is because of them. The food that you see in the grocery stores, the vegetables and all that, is because of them,” he said.

As COVID-19 hit the country, farmworkers were deemed essential, but they were not provided with the same benefits or protections that most Americans received.

Hernandez explains that the government had a hard time reaching farmworkers and getting them the necessary protection equipment. 

Hernandez mentioned that according to Purdue University around 480,000 farmworkers tested positive for COVID-19. 

The West Valley Foundation commissioned the documentary due to their strong advocacy for pushing for support for farmworkers during this time. 

Attorney Daniel R. Ortega, Jr. and several others detail a call to action in the documentary, for the audience to stand up for farmworkers and the respect that they lack. 

Hernandez referred to Tommy Espinoza’s statement, “It’s almost as if this population, he classified it, as slavery the treatment that they get, because of the fact that their wages are low, they live in crowded conditions, they have no place to isolate themselves.” 

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Jesus Hernandez, filmmaker

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