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News | Joint statement on agri-food workers during Covid-19

28 organisations, including La Strada International, PICUM and Oxfam, are calling for urgent measures and structural reforms to address the impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic on EU agriculture and agri-food workers.

The joint statement, Without rights for agri-food workers, Europe’s food supplies rest on shaky ground, highlights that the labour shortages demonstrate how European agriculture depends to a large extent on migrant workers, many undocumented, who make up a significant proportion of those picking our fruits and vegetables as well as packing and processing our food. What the lack of workers in the fields should also demonstrate is that labour conditions in the agri-food sector have been ignored for too long.

The pandemic presents the EU with an opportunity to overhaul its agricultural and food system to make it both greener and more rights-compliant, with fairer supply chains, adequate prices for both farmers and consumers, and guaranteed labour rights for workers.

It puts forward the following six actions in particular:

  1. Address the situation of agri-food workers as a matter of urgency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Transform the new CAP to make it both socially and environmentally sustainable.
  3. Include a focus on workers in the Farm to Fork Strategy.
  4. Ensure full access to declared employment for migrant and refugee workers.
  5. Improve functioning of work permit routes for non-EU migrants to reach Europe and enforce respect for migrant and refugee workers’ rights.
  6. Roll out mandatory EU legislation on human rights and environmental due diligence.

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