On Monday, April 21 my son Ryan and I attended the forum at Skagit Public Utilities District put on by the Latino Civic Alliance. The purpose of this meeting, one of a series conducted by this valuable group, was to help build understanding around the issues of farm labor. The concerns about the H2A guest worker program were a primary focus. This is the program that we used for the first time last year and which triggered the activism against our farm.
There were many in the audience who wanted to become informed citizens and there were some who had concerns about the current systems. As the Skagit Valley Herald news article about this meeting pointed out, sometimes it was hard for those inside to hear the speakers for the noisy protest going on outside. This protest, with Sakuma as the primary target, involved mostly Western Washington University students, who I believe are sincerely interested in improving the conditions for farm workers.
Unfortunately, those outside did not come inside and and take the opportunity to respectfully learn about these challenging issues. While I applaud those who have opinions to express and who get involved in working for improvements, it also seems that some effort should be made to learn from all sides and to get a basic understanding of the situation. Nina Martinez, the Vice Chair of the Latino Civic Alliance administered a respectful, open and focused meeting that approached problem solving in a peaceful and collaborative manner. Great job!
By the way, I’m new to this blogging thing and this is my first attempt. But I think it is important that the community and those interested in solving the issues of farm workers hear from all perspectives. Particularly since our farm, without any intention or desire on our part, has been brought into the forefront of this issue.
Thanks for your interest.