According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2012 has been the hottest year on record — ever. Millions of Americans suffered through the sweltering heat this summer, many in triple-digit temperatures in the Northeast and Southwest, and in California’s Central Valley.
California farm workers are literally dying from the heat. And their deaths are entirely preventable. Four hundred thousand California farm workers toil in extreme heat, producing 90 percent of the labor for the multi-billion-dollar agriculture industry that helps feed the nation our tomatoes, strawberries, grapes, lettuce and much more. They often lack water and access to shade throughout the long day in the fields.
Since 2005, at least 16 farm workers have died due to heat illness.
In 2008, for example, there was Maria Isabel Jimenez, a 17-year-old girl who was pruning a vineyard for Merced Farm Labor, near Stockton. She worked in the fields for nine hours straight without any water and with no shade.