WASHINGTON, D.C.— The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the newly established Equity Commission and Subcommittee on Agriculture. President Emeritus of the United Farm Workers Arturo S. Rodriguez has been appointed as co-chair of the commission and UFW Foundation’s Systemic Change Director Erica Lomeli Corcoran as a member of its agriculture subcommittee. The 15 new members of the commission and its subcommittee will provide recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture on policies, programs and actions needed to address equity issues, including racial equity issues.
Arturo S. Rodriguez spent 45 years with the United Farm Workers of America—the last 25 as president—continuing to build the union Cesar Chavez began into a powerful voice for farm workers by increasing its membership and pushing historic legislation on immigration reform and worker rights.
Erica Lomeli Corcoran has more than 14 years of experience serving farm workers, Latinos and immigrants in agricultural areas. Under Erica’s leadership, the UFW Foundation’s Systemic Change Department —composed of the organization’s communications, digital, advocacy and organizing teams—played an essential role in implementing field operations to support nearly 1 million farm workers and immigrants in the country’s leading agricultural areas, in 2020 alone. Erica’s work includes leading and overseeing some of the largest advocacy campaigns to advance farm worker rights and protections at the national, state and local level.
UFW President Teresa Romero, said:
“The appointment of experienced advocates like Arturo and Erica is encouraging. Appointees who have directly represented the interests of farm workers is a step in the right direction for the USDA. Arturo’s decades of tireless and pragmatic work with farm workers and their communities will be invaluable. His perspective will deepen the understanding of inequities faced by workers who have often been overlooked.”
UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres, said:
“We are so proud to have Erica and Arturo partnering with the USDA to address the concerns and needs of farm workers throughout the United States. There has been a huge gap in the way we treat and pay our farm workers, who are essential workers and the backbone of the agricultural industry. It is our hope that this collaborative effort will lead to lasting changes that will benefit our nation’s farm workers and their families.”