The role and importance of migrant farm workers on the production of healthy foods in america

About the Workers The vast majority of field workers are people of color living in rural low-income communities. Citizenship, entered the H-2A guest worker visa program or remain undocumented. Many of the workers are actively recruited by labor contractors who promise them a good job and a better quality of life.

The role and importance of migrant farm workers on the production of healthy foods in america

Although invisible to most people, the presence of migrant farm workers in many rural communities throughout the nation is undeniable, since hand labor is still necessary for the production of the blemish-free fruits and vegetables that consumers demand Who are Migrant Farm workers?

Migrant farm workers are predominantly Mexican-born sons, husbands, and fathers who leave what is familiar and comfortable with the hopes and dreams of making enough money to support their families back home; feed themselves; purchase land and a home; and — like many immigrants who came before them — ultimately return to their homeland.

While others come from countries such as Jamaica, Haiti, Guatemala, Honduras, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and other states in the United States their aspirations remain the same. They are young, averaging about 31 years of age.

Some arrive as single men, while others leave their families behind while they seek work and others travel and work with their families. For those who travel without their families, once they realize that they will need to maintain their U. More than half of all farm workers — 52 of every — are unauthorized workers with no legal status in the United States.

Many farm workers arrive with solid agricultural skills firmly grounded in practical experience and working knowledge of agriculture.

Migrant Workers and America's Harvest of Shame

This expertise is complemented by a strong work ethic, deeply rooted in their commitment to provide for their families or make it on their own. These sacrifices range from separation from their countries of origins, families, and what is familiar to learning to navigate a foreign land where little is known about them and whose customs, language, foods, and ways of life are different from what they know.

In many instances this new place brings about feelings of alienation and isolation. No longer is La Plaza — a central gathering place in town for community interaction and fellowship in their countries of origin — available to them.

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Instead loneliness creeps in for many as they are limited to the boundaries of the farm due in part to limited access to transportation and also to their lack of legal status which reduce their access to neighborhood businesses, services and community activities in general.

Fear of being picked up by Immigration and Naturalization Services INS due to their undocumented status causes many farm workers to go into hiding in the communities that they work and live in and further contributes to the isolation that farm workers routinely experience.

In spite of these challenges, for many the hopes and dreams of making more money in the U. S than in their countries of origin is enough to drive them to make this enormous sacrifice. Many experience great pride in the contribution that they make to society through their labor for they realize their work feeds the world.

Produce Workers | Food Empowerment Project

For these farm workers there is also a sense of accomplishment in their ability to support their families in purchasing homes or going to school in their home country. For others, their hopes and dreams do not always materialize to the degree envisioned and promised with 61 percent of U.

Why Do They Come A host of push-pull factors contribute to the overwhelmingly immigrant farm worker labor pool. Push factors that impact immigration patterns vary from country to country and from individual to individual. A Colombian immigrant fleeing political persecution and civil unrest seeks asylum as a political refugee, while the indigenous Mexican treks across the desert into the US in search of work and income to support their family back home or just to be able to eat.

Other more direct pull factors have included federally enacted and administered farm labor programs such as the Bracero contract labor program that recruited workers from Mexico to harvest crops in the Southwestern United States from - Today, larger numbers of Mexican farm workers have moved into other regions of the country, including the Northeast, through a similar farm labor contract program known as the H-2A agricultural guest worker program enacted by Congress in and more widely used when the Bracero program ended in Immigration Status One of the key dynamics that detrimentally impacts the lives of migrant farm workers is their lack of legal status within the U.

Unlike other immigrant groups that came before them these workers have not been granted legal status to live in the U. The undocumented status of an overwhelming number of farm workers has given way to increasing injustice and abuse against them.

While not always making headlines, reports of injustice and abuse against farm workers abound including those of opportunistic crew leaders, substandard housing, violence against farm workers by community members of the dominant culture, exclusion from labor laws, inadequate housing, pesticide violations, and the inferior education of children of farm workers.

Furthermore, despite their overwhelming representation and contribution to the agricultural community, farm workers lack political leverage, therefore remaining a disenfranchised population.


The Changing Face of Immigrants As we continue to grow as a nation of immigrants, we need to make an extraordinary effort to understand farm workers in their full context. The legacy and lingering effects of living in a divided society have left us with incomplete, inaccurate and distorted information as to the history, triumphs and contributions of different groups within our society.

As a nation built on the sacrifices of many different immigrant groups we must bear in mind that while the faces of immigrants have changed, their pioneering spirit, courage, determination, ability to thrive, and dreams of securing a better future for their children remain the same.

The Human Cost of Food: Farm workers lives, labor and advocacy Edited by Charles D.Between 1 and 3 million migrant farm workers leave their homes every year to plant, cultivate, harvest, and pack fruits, vegetables and nuts in the U.S.

Although invisible to most people, the presence of migrant farm workers in many rural communities throughout the nation is undeniable, since hand. Riveting Photos Of Migrant Workers Remind Us Who Really Harvests Our Food "They feed America." Migrant farm workers from Mexico take a break while working at the Grant Family Farms in.

The role and importance of migrant farm workers on the production of healthy foods in america

The United Farm Workers of America (UFW) is a farm workers’ union that organizes major agricultural industries across the U.S. The UFW signs union contracts with some of the largest vegetable, dairy, and fruit producers in the country and works with state legislatures .

The role and importance of migrant farm workers on the production of healthy foods in america

Produce Workers The diverse agricultural fields of the United States employ over 3 million people each year. [1] Despite the pivotal role these workers play in the stability of the U.S.

food system, many of these men, women and even children work in unsafe conditions every day in exchange for a salary below the national poverty level. The fast-food industry hires around million workers and pays minimum wage to a higher percentage of its employees than any other industry in the U.S.

The only group that earns a lower hourly rate is migrant farm workers. The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA) safeguards most migrant and seasonal agricultural workers in their interactions with farm labor contractors, agricultural employers, agricultural associations, and providers of migrant housing.

Migrant Farm Workers: Our Nation's Invisible Population - eXtension