Reading Time: 2 minutes 'Juan wanted his kids to have a career and have a better future' Credit: Adobe. Do not use without permission
Reading Time: 2 minutes

An animal agriculture worker drowned whilst at work on a dairy farm in Colorado, US after the vehicle he was operating plunged into a waste pit.

As a result, calls have been made for safer conditions and reform for current workers’ rights.

Dairy farm worker

Juan Panzo Temoxtle passed away on March 31 on Shelton Dairy farm in Weld County.

He had worked there for just six weeks, and according to reports, it was his first time operating the vehicle.

The pit held the waste of almost 3,000 farmed animals.

Mexico-born Temoxtle was an undocumented immigrant. And, according to the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), leaves behind a wife and three children, CBS Denver reported.

Workers’ rights organization, Project Protect Food Systems, claimed the conditions Temoxtle was working under were ‘unsafe’.

‘A better future’

The news outlet obtained a statement from his wife, Serafina Caliuhua Gonzalez.

She said: “Juan came to the United States to have a better future for his kids, but unfortunately God had another plan for him. Juan wanted his kids to have a career and have a better future. He worked so hard for us.

“We depended on Juan, and now we have no one to depend on, no one to support us.”

Workers’ rights

Safety provisions for farmworkers across the US have been criticized in the past.

As a result, a host of organizations are urging for improvements to be made to the current legal rights of animal agriculture workers.

The Agricultural Workers’ Rights bill is under consideration in Colorado at the moment.

It urges employers to provide ‘extra protections’ and better safety precautions during public health emergencies.

Furthermore, it grants workers minimum wage, more breaks and assures overtime pay. It also allows them to unionize and strike. And, whistleblowers will be able to seek enforcement actions.

Bill sponsor, Senator Jessie Danielson, says it simply offers ‘basic human rights’ for agriculture workers – many of whom come from Mexico on temporary visas.

It is hoped the bill will encourage more workers to speak out about workplace conditions.

‘Meat as a human rights issue’

The meat and dairy industry affects workers too

It is not the first time the animal agriculture industry has come under fire for its treatment of workers.

Throughout the pandemic, slaughterhouses hit the headlines for being ‘COVID-19 hotspots’

Additionally, acclaimed actor and vegan advocate Joaquin Phoenix called for workers to report both animal and human abuse in slaughterhouse workplaces.

Moreover, it follows the slew of mental health issues that can come after working in abattoirs and meatpacking facilities.

Emily is a News and Features Writer for Plant Based News. She has previously worked as a journalist in Devon, UK, reporting on local issues from politics to the environment.