MDCR Director Issues Statement on Governor Whitmer's Executive Order Protecting Farmworkers

Mary Engelman, Interim Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, issued the following statement Tuesday in support of Governor Whitmer's Executive Order 2020-111, which provides additional requirements and procedures to keep agricultural workers and the food supply safe from the effects of COVID-19.

"The Michigan Department of Civil Rights commends Governor Whitmer for issuing an Executive Order protecting the people who harvest and sort our food. Though farmworkers may not be who initially comes to mind, they are, in fact, essential workers. They are entitled to the same safeguards at work that we provide to others."

"The farmworkers who work in Michigan’s fields often come here with few belongings and depend on the farms they work for to provide food and lodging. These workers have a right to know that their living conditions do not expose them to the risks presented by COVID-19 any more than is necessary."

"It is important that migrant farmworkers know of these protections in advance, or they may decide to go elsewhere. Agriculture is too important to Michigan’s economy to allow this to happen. We do not applaud the Governor’s action only because it is economically sound; we applaud it because people should not be valued by the color of their skin or the work that they do. Finding the right balance between permitting essential work to continue and protecting those who do it is difficult, but it must be done."


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