Just a quick reminder that the timely and information-packed Colorado Agriculture & Farm Labor Summit will be taking place Monday, Dec. 9, and Tuesday, Dec. 10, at the Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel. Deadline for registration is Dec. 6.
The two-day event is being hosted by MAFO, a National Partnership of Farmworkers and Rural Organizations, with early sign-in on Sunday, Dec. 8, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on registration for this important two-day event, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/colorado-agriculture-farm-labor-summit-registration-79547706331, and for a printable agenda, go to https://files.constantcontact.com/3b4cbbaf301/427619d7-8b13-4add-a747-7261a41a9438.pdf.
With farm labor a top-of-mind issue and the Federal Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 now in the U.S. House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship on its way to becoming law, the Colorado event will address several key points of the matter during its two-day agenda.
The conference will open on Monday, Dec. 9, with an Inter-Regional State Prospective hosted by Dr. Jose Simon Villa, MAFO board member and chief executive officer of the East Coast Migrant Head Start Project. Invited speakers for the session include Colorado Ag Commissioner Kate Greenberg, Texas Workforce Development Division Director Courtney Arbour, and Colorado Department of Labor and Employment Executive Director Joe M. Barela.
The morning will also include multiple sessions for both employers and providers. In the first set for the employer there will be a look at “ABCs of Recruitment: Agricultural Recruitment System & H2A,” with a “general overview of recruitment strategies using the Ag Recruitment System for domestic workers and H2A for temporary international agricultural workers.” Presenters are to include Betty Velasquez, Sub Area Director, Southeast & South-Central Sub Areas; Olga Ruiz, State Monitor Advocate, Colorado Department of Labor & Employment; and Kerri Owen, Foreign Labor Certification Coordinator at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. For the provider, a workshop will provide participants “an overview of the 2020 Census, focusing on why the Census is important easy and safe. The session will provide localized information and tools for effectively reaching hard to count populations. Participants will interact to discuss participants’ barriers within their communities and explore how their trusted voices can help ensure a complete and accurate count in 2020.” Presenters will be Ana Mostaccero and Noel Rincon, Partnership Specialists with the Dallas Regional Census Center.
A second morning set of sessions provides the employer with a look at compliance, giving “an opportunity to ask any employment related questions you may have about rights and responsibilities in the workplace by employers.” Tools will be given to help employers “operate in compliance with the variety of labor laws enforced by U.S. DOL Wage and Hour Division.” Presenter will be Janet Wilson, Assistant District Director of the U.S. Department of Labor
The provider session looks at “Social Determinants of Health,” considering “economic and social conditions that influence individual and group differences in health status.” Presenter is Gwyn Barley, PhD and Vice President of Community Partnerships and Grants.
Afternoon sessions on Monday look at “Trends and Motivators in the Domestic Educational Options for Farmworkers” and the ag workforce for the employer, providing an “overview of trends in the demographic and employment characteristics of the U.S. crop workforce with a focus on the mountain states. The session will also present an overview of potential mechanisms to increase worker retention, desire to work, and productivity.” Presenter is Ali Hill, Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
the provider, the first afternoon session is “Beyond ESL,” which will look at “alternatives
or educational options for farmworkers
with consideration to possible farmworker “minimal or lack of education compounded with chronic seasonal employment and underemployment experience.” Agencies representative will present their programs and work to address farmworker education, with presenters TBA.
The second set of afternoon sessions looks at Leveraging USDA Rural Development Funds for Farmworker Housing” for the employer, with presenter Joe Untiedt Farm Worker Housing Specialist for Community Resources & Housing Development Corporation leading the discussion.
Provider session is “Services for Those Lacking Documentation,” addressing Colorado legislation and rules related to immigration status. The agenda notes that it is “important to be aware of the relationship and tension between state and federal law when it comes to subjects involving immigration,” and presenters are TBA.
The afternoon closes with a Coalition / Community Services Overview, examining Colorado’s separate ag areas and the “unique off-farm services available to farmworkers such as healthcare, education, housing, etc.” Various service providers will highlight resources available, with presenters from the areas of Workforce, Migrant Edu. Migrant Head Start, 167 NFJP (Rocky Mountain SER), Legal Aid and Health Care.
Tuesday’s agenda is similarly well-rounded, starting with a morning session on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Public Charge Propose Rule and how it affects immigration status and impacts farmworkers. Presenter is Alexic Guild, Senior Health Policy Analyst for Farmworker Justice. A second morning session looks at “Coalition’s Work Review and Future Planning,” addressing mission and vision, outcomes, successes and creating partnerships as well as addressing challenges. The coalitions presenters include reps from La Junta, Greeley, Monte Vista and the State of Colorado. Presenters are
The facilitator will be Betty Velasquez.
Tuesday afternoon looks at “Talent Found: Colorado Workforce Development Council.” The “TalentFOUND gateway connects individuals and businesses with the most relevant tools and resources of the Colorado talent development network, helping students, job seekers, workers, and employers create their own unique paths to career and business success,” the agenda reads. Presenters are Betty Velasquez; Olga Ruiz; and Kerri Owen. A 2020 Census workshop will be held during the afternoon, presented by Vicki McIntre, Assistant Regional Census Manager at the Dallas Regional Census Center. The conference will close with a plenary session led by MAFO CEO Lalo Zavala.