For some time, a number of farmworker advocates have been seeking a more effective and broad-based way to promote farmworker interests and to develop a cohesive message to national policy makers regarding the plight of migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families
In December, 2000, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and MAFO convened a meeting in Washington, DC to explore the possibility of holding a national Farmworker Summit. The Summit would bring interested parties to the nation’s capital to build a movement that would promote positive farmworker legislation, encourage enforcement of current laws, and focus attention on farmworker issues throughout the country.
NCLR, MAFO, La Cooperativa, Coalition of Florida Farmworker Organizations (COFFO), Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP), United Farm Workers (UFW), Migrant Legal Action Program (MLAP), Housing Assistance Council (HAC), and Farmworker Justice Fund (FJF) participated in the December, 2000 meeting and subsequent meetings in 2001 .Through these meetings, the groups developed a plan for a National Farmworker Leadership Summit which was scheduled for late September, 2001, in Washington, DC. The Summit was cancelled due to the events of September 11 and has been rescheduled for September, 2002, in Washington, DC.
Organizations active in the planning of the Summit have formed a Steering Committee with representatives from the following national groups: NCLR, MAFO, COFFO, AFOP, UFW, MLAP HAC, FJF, La Cooperativa, and the National Association of State Directors of Migrant Education (NASDME).The groups decided to form a National Farmworker Alliance to conduct the Farmworker Summit and to further the goals established through the summit planning process. All organizations interested in working to improve the lives of migrant and seasonal farmworkers are encouraged to join the Alliance.
The Steering Committee is planning the National Farmworker Alliance Leadership Summit for September, 2002, in Washington, DC. The Steering Committee is also responsible for planning a series of “Mini-Summits” leading up to the national Summit. Finally, the Steering Committee is responsible for planning and implementing a national legislative strategy developed by the Alliance. The Steering Committee’s first activity is the development of a National Farmworker Budget to be reviewed at the Mini-Summit held at the MAFO conference in San Diego in February, 2002.The National Farmworker Budget will be used as an organizing and advocacy tool by interested groups.
The Alliance plans to work collectively and across farmworker disciplines such as employment, education, housing, and health, to bring a cohesive and organized strategy to national advocacy on behalf of farmworkers and farmworker programs. Alliance members will participate in round table discussions and will focus on short term issues, such as the elimination of 2003 fiscal year funding for the NJFP, Section 167 programs, as well as longer range issues such as immigration reform (including legalization) and guest worker legislation.
The Mission of the
National Farmworker Alliance is:
“To improve the lives and working conditions of migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families through advocacy and increased public awareness.”