I am writing in response to the headline story “Farmworker health woes” published on Sunday, Oct. 6 originally reported by Courtney Teague as part of a journalism college assignment. She may have missed an article authored by Henry Lutz, which ran in the Register on March 10 about our organization and the services we provide to the agriculture community.
No one would argue that farming is some of the hardest work out there and can take a toll on workers. That is the very reason why, back in 1972, the California Winegrower Foundation (now Ag Health Benefits Alliance, or AHBA) was founded with the mission to improve the quality of life and health for farmworkers.
Some 47 years later, AHBA works with over 100 members primarily in Napa and Sonoma, providing employer-sponsored coverage to over 3,000 employees and their dependents. Benefits include the choice of medical providers, telemedicine services, no cost preventive care, mental health services, substance abuse treatment and an employee assistance program. The foundation also sponsors and administers a defined benefit pension plan and has paid over $25 million in pension funds to agricultural workers.
For AHBA, a heartfelt and continuing support for our farming community is our past, our present and our future. The concept of bringing growers together to collectively provide benefits for their workers was innovative for its time and helped to create a culture of caring for farmworkers that still exists among members today.
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California Winegrower Foundation, dba Ag Health Benefits Alliance