Stories From the Field: 8th Annual National Hmong American Farmers Conference

Speaker at National Hmong American Farmers’ 8th Annual National Farm Conference

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WCAHS attended the National Hmong American Farmers’ 8th Annual National Farm Conference on August 29, 2017 in Fresno, CA. This year’s conference embraced the diverse and multi-ethnic farming community and focused on “New Generation, Immigrant and Veteran Farmers.” Hmong, Lao, African American and Latino farmers joined together to share their successes and struggles as small and veteran farmers and farmworkers of the United States.

Along with WCAHS, 10 other agencies participated in the conference and provided information and resources to participants. Our table was filled with educational material in regards to water, rest, and shade in English, Spanish and Hmong, which fit perfectly with the theme of the conference. As always, our colorful roulette wheel attracted many who were eager to know what it was about and learn more about heat illness prevention and win a prize.

The conference itself hosted several speakers, including Mary Jane Galbiso, who shared the history of how Filipino union activists and workers fought big agribusinesses and joined with Latinos to form the United Farm Workers Union (UFW).

Lideres CampesinasThe most impactful part of the day was when the Lideres Campesinas, a network of Latina-American farmworkers, performed a skit showing challenges that farmworkers can face, such as sexual harassment, working long periods of time with no water, rest, or shade as well as human trafficking. Lideres Campesinas strive to create awareness about these issues and provide resources to improve the lives of farmworker communities through a unified voice.

It was great to see so many farmworkers and agencies come together to share information about common struggles, provide support for one another and realize everyone is not alone. It’s just like we say in Spanish, “La unión hace la fuerza,” or “the union makes the force!” It’s always wonderful to see farmworking communities taking action together.