Keeping Americans Fed: The Power and Exploitation of Immigrant & Migrant Farming Communities
The January 13th, 2022 installment of the Food Justice Series focused on the social, economic, and structural barriers that exploit immigrant and migrant farmworkers and push families to the margins.
Immigrant and migrant farmworkers play a critically important role in putting food on our nation’s tables, making up an estimated 73% of the agricultural workforce in the United States today. Despite this, food insecurity is endemic in the migrant farming community. Low wages have made it difficult for farmworkers to afford sufficient and healthy food. Farmworkers also face difficulty in accessing social safety net programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) due to barriers such as immigration status, misinformation, lack of transportation, geography, and unstable living arrangements.
Undocumented workers – who make up approximately 50% of the farm labor workforce – are particularly vulnerable, as they live under the constant threat of arrest and family separation, all while working in extremely difficult and oftentimes dangerous conditions that have only been made more so by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ravages of climate change. In addition, immigrant and migrant farmworkers are often rendered invisible by institutions with the power to address unequal and exploitative working conditions.
In this installment, we also heard about new visions for an agricultural industry that values the land and the people who tend to it and examined why improving the conditions of farmworkers should be a legal, economic, and moral imperative for all of us. As consumers, we play a huge role in controlling the food system. We need to use our purchasing power and our right to vote to advocate for farmworkers who deserve justice.