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Produce Business

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American Food & Ag Exporter

Cheese Connoisseur



Understanding The Complexities Of Farm Labor Culture Gives Better Understanding Of What’s Happening In Mexico 

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, October 21, 2015

When The Los Angeles Times published a piece focused on agriculture labor abuse in Mexico, titled Hardship on Mexico’s Farms, a Bounty for U.S. Tables, and followed up with pieces such as Produce Industry Promises to Improve Mexican Farmworker Conditions and Mexican Farm Strike Leaders to Meet with Growers as Crops Rot, we analyzed these articles in pieces such as DAMAGING LOS ANGELES TIMES ARTICLE ABOUT MEXICAN LABOR, Though Incomplete And Unbalanced, Puts Retailers And Receivers On Notice… and IS THE PUNDIT SCROOGE? IS FAIR TRADE AN ANSWER? The LA Times And Coalition Of Immokalee Workers Tell Us How To Solve Mexico’s Labor Problems.

One advantage of being the Pundit is that the smartest people in the industry often tip us off to productive angles to help further the industry discussion on key issues. In this case, Michael McCartney, who has participated in several Pundit pieces, including Will PTI Put Liability Onus In Retailers’ Court? and Getting A Better Grasp On Traceability, sent us this brief note:

Great Response to the LA Times piece! There are many facets to this story. You may want to reach out to Amy Wolfe who heads up Agsafe to get her take on FLCs.

— Michael McCartney
Principal
QLM Consulting

Well, Michael has never guided us incorrectly before, so we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to find out more:

Amy Wolfe
President/CEO
AGSafe
Modesto, California

Q: We’re interested to hear your thoughts on issues raised by The Los Angeles Times series on agriculture worker abuses in Mexico.  Have you had a chance to read the piece and our related coverage in the Perishable Pundit, which has opened quite a firestorm of debate?

A: Jim Prevor is known for stirring the pot and challenging people to engage in important discussions. It’s essential for people to not just see the LA Times piece as the explosive expose that it is, but to go deeper into the issues magnified in the piece to have a better understanding of what to do about it. 

Q: Could you tell us about AgSafe and how your background informs you?

A: Sure. Ag Safe is a non-profit organization. We came into existence in 1991 as a response to regulatory changes here in California. At that time, we became the first state to mandate all businesses, regardless of industry and size, have a formal written safety program; what we know as the Injury and Illness, Prevention Plan.

A coalition of agricultural employers with an emphasis on the front end of the supply chain, from agriculture trade associations, the workers’ compensation/insurance industry and California university cooperative ag extension programs, which had been dabbling in issues related to worker safety for a few years, came together and said, “This is a game changer for the ag industry.”  

Q: Did the regulatory changes challenge the types of safety programs in place? Were the safety programs sufficient?

A: Looking at grower and farm labor contract elements, it was a matter of just recognizing while many businesses have a culture of safety, it was certainly a very fluid informal process. It was very much “do the job, do it safely, take care of yourself.” But it wasn’t a formal, very rigorous process of developing a written program, unless you were a much larger international organization and you had begun to do that from a best practices standpoint.

Q:  What actions did you take to address this phenomenon of fragmented, informal cultural norms?  

A: This coalition looked to training as the best mechanism for the industry to meet regulatory changes. It took three years of very grassroots, townhouse-style educational forums across the state of California to educate predominantly the grower segment of the industry on what these regulations required.

Q: What were the key problems discovered during these training sessions?  Were many growers out of touch with the legal requirements?  Are these technical glitches or more significant breaches? How complex are these fixes?

A: At the end of three years, this coalition came back together and said it wasn’t just that folks didn’t understand; they didn’t know the snowflake on the tip of the iceberg. The issues surrounding worker safety and caring for our workforce transcend so many states and regulatory agencies. It really can become a very difficult area of the law, if you’re not an attorney or someone who specializes in this line of work, to grasp exactly how many people are holding you accountable for the way you care for your workers.  

There really wasn’t an organization like ours beyond the scope of the Injury and Illness Prevention Plan. We found a home at the Center for Agricultural Business at California State University Fresno. With grant funding, we spent several years as part of an incubator project, developing partnerships with like-minded organizations and need-based training programs and curriculums.

Q: How did the scope of your work change?

A: In the mid-2000s, we expanded our reach from doing training with farmers and contractors. We became an approved training center through the state labor commissioner for labor standard enforcement to provide the continuing education for farm labor contractors here in California.  It allowed us to expand beyond the scope of just safety to issues that those of us in corporate America would consider human-resources-related.

Q: What did you find to be the most pressing concerns?

A: We began to discover small- to medium-size growers, and packers/shippers as well, tend to have an individual or a couple of people responsible for the workers, period. From payroll records and making sure people are paid under the right wage order with overtime calculated properly, to workers’ compensation for injury and filing claims, to proper training on how to operate equipment.

A lot of smaller operators don’t have silos for an HR department, a safety department, and a compliance department like larger businesses. It’s really just one or two people, like an office manager. It could be somebody’s wife or spouse who takes care of the workers.   

There really was this evolving need to not just specialize in safety and health issues connected to agriculture, but to grow our knowledge and our subject expertise and relationships to bring in human resource issues as well. We have a captive audience that says, “I know what I need to do for respirator fit testing, and I know what I need to do for forklift training, and I understand chemical pesticide safety. But what do I do about wage-per-hour related issues, and the 10-minute breaks, and how do I capture that information properly?” So we expanded our services to include those types of issues.

Not only do we provide research, training and information in a community forum, but we work with companies on a one-on-one basis, customizing and tailoring programs, which is particularly beneficial for small- and medium-size business owners. How do you develop a system that works with the realities of your organization and your financial resources?

Q: Isn’t that the sticking point?

A: These things are not mutually exclusive. You don’t have to sacrifice your business principles, caring for your workers and creating a culture of mutual respect. It takes time, deliberate thought and building upon and gleaning from those who have come before you. But it reaps incredible rewards for your organization. And it has positive business results, improved efficiencies, decreased worker injuries, and people want to come to work. You can look at yourself in the mirror and know you’re doing right by the people, who are so critical to your business.

Q: Could you give us a breakdown of your client base within the supply chain? And are you completely focused on California firms and requirements within the State?  Are many of your programs applicable on a national basis?

A: We have an equal breakdown between farmers and contractors, and packers/shippers and processors. We can do more even further down the supply chain. In our five-year strategic plan, we’re looking at how we can have a greater presence on a national scale. We’ve begun to do work in Florida, and we’ve been in Arizona for the last couple of years because of the natural crossover between the Imperial Valley and Yuma. We’re examining how we can provide our services nationally. There isn’t an organization like ours in other states.

Q: How is your organization unique?

A: You have safety and health centers that are coordinated through the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. And there are a couple of other organizations that exist on a national scale, but they’re all very focused on research and have a very academic feel to them, whereas we are very much hands-on.

Our organization was founded by practitioners. Our education team is made up of safety and health specialists. My director of education was a safety manager in the agriculture industry for 20 years. Another worked in the food processing industry as a human resources manager. We bring in people who have been in the trenches figuring these issues out, and we speak from personal experience. So, while you’ll see loss-control specialists from the workers compensation industry, and a variety of people in the support industry, we’re unique because we’ve walked the path and worn the shoes of those folks we’re trying to help.

Q: Do you see a disconnect or lack of understanding between employers and their workers?

A: Often times, yes. We’re also committed to the cultural realities of our workforce. All members of my education team are not just bilingual, but bicultural. They were born and raised in Mexico and came to the United States at another point in their lives.  If we’re going to have a meaningful impact in keeping people safe, there has to be a recognition and understanding of the culture they come from, the formal education they have or have not received, their literacy and language skills.

We’re a nonpartisan, nonpolitical organization. We’re not here to argue about immigration status. We’re not here to discuss whether or not they should speak English.  These are all conversations to be had at another time and another place.

Our responsibility and purpose is to protect these people who are dedicating themselves to make sure we all have the healthiest and, quite frankly, the least expensive food available to us. And they have the right to go home with their fingers and their toes. And be paid the wage they should be paid, and be treated with respect. 

Q: Aren’t these basic rights already built into our legal system? Is it just a matter of learning the right strategies and tactics to implement them, and create an effective process to insure they are being followed? 

A: Effectively, you’re talking about changing adult behavior. You’re asking adults to transform how they do things. We‘ve invested hours and hours making sure our education team is not only proficient in the subject matter, but in how adults learn, and in how to create the right learning environment. The California farm worker has an average education of third grade. How do we work with less educated workers to convey highly technical information, and insure they not only understand it, but they buy into why it’s important to modify their behavior?

At face value, it seems so simple, but if you’re really committed to making a change, you have to get into deeper issues. Sometimes, politics can take over and be what everybody wants to focus on. It requires clarity of purpose and having a conscientious conversation. Again, I’m not here to get into the rights of these individuals, whether or not they should be allowed to be in this country. That’s a different platform and a different organization. I’m here to make sure people know these workers are doing dangerous work. I have an obligation to these workers, that they go home safely, everything intact. I’ll have those other conversations in my personal time. 

Q; Why is farming so dangerous? What are the biggest safety and health concerns facing farm workers?

A: The government has said farming is the most dangerous industry after coal mining. The data comes from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, based on the number of fatalities per 100,000 workers. [Editor’s note: you can read more on these stats here and here]. The crux is because of the equipment and machinery used.

Q: Don’t these hazards fluctuate based on the kinds of crops and farming methods?

A:  Yes, but they remain a core danger, even when you have an industry like the specialty crop industry in California, which is a similar industry in Mexico because of the crops we are growing. We have reliance on a lot of bodies, yet there is still a lot of equipment, tractors, forklifts and custom machinery; for instance, when you look at the nut industry, the shakers, the sweepers, and the augers. There are so many pieces of custom equipment that now complement the hand-harvesting and hand-pruning of our large workforce. This is not a paper-cut kind of equipment. These are large pieces of heavy machinery that cause serious injuries and fatalities. 

Q: The LA Times piece reported some egregious violations and abuses. In your experience, have you discovered any serious worker safety problems, intentional or unintentional?

A: It’s an interesting thing. I’ve been with AgSafe for six years in June, and I’ve worked in agriculture my entire career, 15-plus years. I have yet to encounter one person who hasn’t genuinely cared about their people. In this industry, growers and farm labor contractors recognize their workers are as important, if not the most important element in their ability to get their crop to market.

We focus a lot on the drought in California, and water is such an issue, and we talk about air quality and other elements that challenge the agricultural industry in the State. But at the end of the day, people are what make this industry turn. They are what make the world go around.

When we see the issues, honestly, it’s really a function of lack of knowledge; it’s not to cause harm, it’s not intentional, and it’s not a conscientious decision to provide improper equipment.

Q: How complex are these different health and safety regulations, compensation procedures and other labor requirements?

A: We work with 11 different federal agencies to have knowledge of the various issues and oversights when it comes to workers. An almond farmer knows how to farm almonds, but the expectation that he knows all the different agencies that have oversight and dictate how he treats his workers, I’m sorry, but it’s unrealistic.

A lot of times, the position we end up being in is that they truly didn’t know there was a law. They’ve done it this way for five generations, talking to their people about looking out for one another and using common sense. That’s what their grandfathers did, and what their great grandfathers did.  

So, when you have someone like me come in and say, well actually, five years ago, or three years ago, or just last year, the federal government or state of California decided this is how you have to do it. It really does come down to a lack of knowledge. Equally important, things are written in complicated legal terms, many times by people that have zero farming knowledge. How does what you told me look like in real life? How do I actually implement that in a practical way?

Q: That sounds like a conundrum. Could you point to some examples?

A: We work at night in different commodities here in California. The wine grape industry has been doing it for years. Folks put on the bright orange vests with the reflective tape so if they’re out working, someone can see them. Now the State says it has to be a Class 2 high visibility vest, with a specific amount of reflective tape and color brightness.

People think they are complying with the law, but there’s a good chance they’re not meeting the classification change. We’re getting down to a nitty-gritty level of detail. Growers are providing effective reflective vests, but politics being what it is, they have to replace them.

Q: You describe a technical change, frustratingly bureaucratic in nature, which doesn’t address a significant safety problem. That’s quite different from the violations exposed in the LA Times piece…

A: The working conditions that we see in Mexico are in a very different environment than we see in the U.S. That has been driven by regulation and by culture. You don’t see children working in California in agriculture in the same way you see it in Mexico. You actually see more kids on the farm in the Midwest and back East than you see in California. And that’s just the nature of the crops you’re growing and the business you’re in.

In the Midwest, you’re talking about commodities — corn, soybeans — where you still have the small family farm, you have your parents, your kids, you may have a couple of guys helping on the property, because it can all be managed with equipment, large combines, large tractors and doesn’t require the bodies. Even though a lot of our businesses are still family-owned, the scope of work is so large because our crops require so many people. It has a very different flavor to it.

We have mandatory education requirements and truancy laws. That’s a big difference in cultures between what exists in Mexico and the United States, and within California, even though we are using a predominantly Mexican workforce. There has been a cultural expectation shift of what’s done here versus what’s done there.

Q: Can you expound?

A: Because of the migratory nature of the commodities in Mexico, you see entire families working their way up through the different regions during the growing seasons, making that loop and taking their kids with them. Moms want to keep an eye on the children, and to be sure they are OK because they are not in their hometown in the community they grew up in. Their kids end up in the fields with them, and as such end they also wind up working in the fields.  

Q: So any solutions must start with an understanding of cultural mores in conjunction with familial migratory demands of field labor, and the related challenges?  

A: The growers in Mexico have not done enough to insure they address these issues from the larger cultural perspective. In the same way we’re looking at how to get adults to change their behavior to be safe on the job, it’s a similar concept. You have to get to the root of the problem.

This is a migratory workforce with a culture that says, “My children are not staying with a grandmother or an aunt. They are coming with me so I can protect them. I’m not sending them to day care or a school. I want to keep my eyes on them.”

So the grower community needs to take steps to first, acknowledge the cultural reasons behind the actions and work with those workers to help develop a solution that would appease the families so they know their children are safe and getting an education in school while those families’ parents work in the fields.   

Q: Can some of these solutions prove costly? Do you find smaller and mid-size growers can afford the requirements needed?

A: It becomes a function of cost, and why there’s an opportunity for trade associations within those commodities and states to come together and ask what they can do to facilitate change. It does become difficult for smaller growers.

Many here in California talk about the regulatory burden in trying to address some of these challenges. It costs a lot of money. If anyone understands the way the system works, none of us are willing to pay more money at the grocery store. It is all a trickle down of this expectation that the farmer absorbs those costs. Yet he has no one to pass those costs on to.

I’m not sure average U.S. consumers fully understand they drive this entire ship. They have total control because, through their pocket books, they have said they are not going to pay anymore for x, y, or z. We then have to figure out a way to make it work within the confines of what’s available from a fiscal standpoint.

Q: What role do retailers play in this scenario?

A: Growers in Mexico and their counterparts in the United States, as well as the retailers buying and receiving product, must play a role. If everyone is coming together and acknowledging change needs to be made, then everyone has to be willing to invest the time and resources necessary for a systemic solution.

Q: What are the biggest challenges moving forward?

A: We had an opportunity to meet with growers who do some work in Mexico, and organizations looking to address these problems, prior to the LA Times exposé coming out. The LA Times piece certainly shined a very bright light on an issue that merits greater attention. No one is discounting that problems exist. Changing a culture is very difficult. It doesn’t happen overnight or with a heavy hand. It can’t be purely a regulatory or enforcing tactic because you’re not going to see long term results. You’ll only see a short-term fix and not a systemic solution.

It does mean taking the time and sitting down and having conversations with the workers themselves. We see this all the time. You can do a training program on wearing protective clothing. For example, in California, we have a litany of regulations about how long people have to wait before reentering a field after pesticides are sprayed so they don’t risk exposure, and the protective clothing and respirator equipment to wear.

Even with logical, thoughtful regulations, it’s not enough to say, ‘just do it.’ You have to talk about the procedures and repercussions if you don’t follow them. Ask workers, why aren’t you wearing your respirator suit? Does it not fit properly? Do you get really hot in it and does it make you uncomfortable? There has to be a two-way dialogue to find out from the worker’s perspective. What barriers prevent you from making the changes we’re talking about? 

People dictate from on high and expect everyone to toe the line. That’s not going to solve the problems exposed in the LA Times piece. You need to talk to these men and women to find solutions. What will help make this transition to a safer workplace, where your children are protected? What do we need to do to solve this problem?

Q: You point out that workers may have access to the necessary safety equipment and procedures, but may not be using it, or following the procedures properly?

A: When you think about it, a Tyvek suit is not a breathable material by nature because we’re trying to prevent a potentially dangerous chemical from penetrating the body. If someone is out working, even if it’s 75 degrees outside, it’s like having a greenhouse on your body. So you have guys saying, “I’m sweating, I’m just too hot in it.”

The physical environment it creates is unbearable. So let’s wait to do those activities until a cooler time of day so they will wear the suit. Stop writing them up and disciplining them, and actually ask them why they aren’t wearing the suit, and getting to the root of the issue.

Q: What you describe is a basic communication problem, with issues extrapolated by the cultural and linguistic divides…

A: It’s why it takes getting people out of compartmentalized mindsets, going into the fields and the processing plants and experiencing the conditions themselves, walking in the workers’ shoes, and listening to their genuine issues. Solutions to the problems are with the workers.  

Q: With everything we’ve discussed, could you transition back to the LA Times piece, and help put it into context?   

A: I think the LA Times piece was negligent and a gross exaggeration of the circumstances. From my standpoint, in the years since I’ve had this job, I go on the farm or a processing facility and I talk to management and meet with the executive leadership. I’ve never met anyone that is deliberately or consciously causing harm to their workers. Just the opposite; they want to do everything they can to protect them. 

Q: Yet the LA Times piece honed in on some egregious acts by particular growers…

A: The article painted a picture of an industry where you have these evil guys in the back room twirling their mustaches, thinking of all the bad things that could happen to these people, and not caring for them. In my experience, owners are third-generation and their workers are third-generation, and they work together as their parents and grandparents did. I struggle to believe that it’s a sinister situation, like villains from a Walt Disney movie. I haven’t met those people.

I’m not naïve. It’s not to say people like that don’t exist. But I’ve traversed the State and many other states, and I’ve been in this industry a long time. It’s not the people I’ve encountered. That’s not to say bad things don’t happen, or there are people out there solely bent on generating a profit and will do whatever is necessary, because people like that do exist.  

Those people are the minority in this industry. This industry has its roots in family. Even though California’s agriculture industry is painted as this big corporate farming, it’s still family businesses. When you have an industry that comes from that familial center, there is a natural extension into how we run our businesses. It’s still a very family-oriented environment.

My experiences have taught me, more often than not, it’s a lack of knowledge and lack of understanding of how to fix a problem as opposed to a conscientious and measured attempt to prevent workers from being protected.  

Q: Do you meet with worker rights groups like the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)?  

A: We have had some interaction. A great example, as a charitable organization, we’ve received grant funding over the years from the California Wellness Foundation, which addresses all types of health issues for people in the State. For years, it has had a program around occupational health. We were funded by CWF, as were a number of worker rights organizations, so we did have a chance to interact and share ideas and look at how we’re both trying to be of service to the same population.

We’re beginning to do more work in Florida. Sitting down with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers is on our to-do list, reaching out, learning how the group came to be, and hearing about some its successes, and how it interacts with grower groups.

Q: Do you get push back because your clients are the growers and farm contractors, rather than the workers?

A: We make no bones about letting people know we reach the worker by working with the owner. Our model has found if you don’t have the buy-in from owners, if you aren’t helping them know how to do this, you may not have the success you want to have by going to the workers directly.

Q: You’re a liaison and mediator of sorts…

A: Everything we do is about education, training and resources. We have an education series for owners, all the way down to the workers. Harvest food safety protocol as an example, we have a series for all groups in the supply chain, the ownership, food safety management, the crew boss or foreman responsible for managing people in the field, and then the workers themselves.

The concepts are the same, the principles are the same, but involve very different messages and the appropriate training and resources, depending on what role you play in the organization. This creates consistency of education and messaging throughout the hierarchy.

We do sexual-harassment-prevention training classes across that entire spectrum as well. We teach the human resources manager, what are the laws, your responsibilities, the agencies with oversight, and what do you do if you have a problem.

You must craft an appropriate policy and ongoing training within your organization. Then the conversation with the workers; what are your rights, how should you be protected, do you know your company has a policy, where do you go if you have a problem, how do you report it? It’s all the same information but we’re targeting the message appropriate for the audience, looking through different lenses.

Q: A lot of this comes down to communication …

A: Exactly. Inherently, successful businesses require successful communications up and down the chain. It can’t be a one-way system of communication. The cultural, linguistic and literacy challenges add a whole layer of complexity. At the end of the day, the grower just wants to farm almonds. At what point does the farmer look at what’s involved and say, I give up?

Q: And this comes within a politically charged climate of unsettled immigration reform, which channels another level of complexity… You say you’ve stayed out of the political fray. How do you do that?

A: Politics absolutely adds to the complexity. We get asked quite a bit to get into the politics. My board of directors and I have been very committed to remain a neutral resource. Part of the reason we work very well with those 11 agencies is because I don’t have a lobbyist, or a super Pac.

I’m not putting political pressure on their bosses and their bosses’ bosses, who are all political appointees. They see us trying to do right by our workforce. Quite frankly, it gives us an advantage. We’re given a heads up when they’re considering changes to regulations. We made a deliberate decision to stay out of the politics because it allows us to be much more effective in the work that we do.

Q: To sum up this extensive discussion, what are the most important things you want readers to know?

A: The biggest thing I want readers to know is that we exist, we are a resource for the industry and are expanding our reach. I’d also like to dispel misconceptions. People look at the companies on our board of directors, and our larger donors and think these big companies are the only ones we help. That’s absolutely not true.

We serve more small- and medium-size owners. Part of the reason we are a charitable organization is to help keep costs down for them. People think we only work in California, and only with farm contractors. There are lots of misconceptions around the scope and depth of our services. Our vision is to be a one-stop solution for employers to address this cacophony of issues affecting their workforce, whether food safety, worker safety, or wage and work conditions.

A grower has done right by his workers, but is scratching his head, dealing with bureaucracy, overlapping federal and state regulations, and multiple duplicate forms. The pendulum has swung to overzealous. It’s no longer about insuring that worker rights are maintained. No elected official or appointee of an elected official wants to be seen as the guy who was falling down on the job. I can appreciate that after a while, an employer throws his hands in the air.

For years we’ve held workshops partnering with Western Growers, but that’s not the only way we do things. We now have this breadth of knowledge all in one place and are here to help companies one on one. We like to say we’re small but mighty. We come from working in farming and have a personal connection with this industry, what it is like in the fields. For us, there’s a real calling and purpose.  

Q:  This is an angle missing from the LA Times series…

A: We’re part of the solution, which doesn’t grab headlines in this frantic environment. What we do isn’t sexy or sensational. Migrant issues and social impacts are complicated. As an industry, we need to be more media-savvy in getting a balanced message out and learn how to tell our story, especially to people not rooted in agriculture.

*******

Wow, what an incredible organization! So focused on not just the right issues but on the real obstacles to implementing solutions.

It is easy to paint people as Simon Legree or demand laws. It is so hard to get down to the micro-level of people’s lives and real business operations and actually solve problems. So a hat tip to Amy and her board for working in this manner.

Still, we don’t think that the rest of the world should get a free pass and that these problems should be seen as solely a grower problem.

The story about the wine grape harvesters wearing the high-visibility vests sounds small and unimportant, but you multiply that by a thousand such edicts, sometimes contradictory, from various government agencies at various levels of government, and you wind up having an enormous waste of resources for little or no gain in safety or anything else.

Half the time, if you research the matter, you find out that the provider of many solutions are gaming the system. In the wine grape harvesting scenario, we have no idea how this particular change came about, but certainly it would make sense for high-visibility vest manufacturers to implement minor changes every few years and then try to get the new vests required by law or regulation.

It is also worth noting that these things all have negative competitive implications for California farmers. California has no authority to make farmers in other states or countries follow these regulations. So these are costs California growers must shoulder, but not competitors from other states or countries.

We also don’t think retailers and other buyers should be given a free pass. When we wrote about child labor on a blueberry farm in Michigan in a piece titled, When Child Labor Laws Don’t Necessarily Help Children, we pointed out that retailers terminating procurement from this farm weren’t actually helping these children. They still had no school or summer program to go to; they still had no way of getting to and from such programs that did exist and now their parents would also be unemployed!

The LA Times piece was very unfair because it didn’t quantify anything. Obviously all horrors are terrible, and we want them purged from the supply chain. But it makes a big difference in understanding the nature of the problem if 99% of production has the issue or 1% has the issue. One is a systemic problem; the other is a bad apple.

I remember when Joe Nucci was alive I would visit with him, and very often female laborers would want to give him a burrito or some other dish they made. He never turned them down. They were his people and he wanted the best possible relations with them. That has been my experience across production agriculture in the produce industry.

Organizations such as Agsafe are providing useful services in helping to translate that inclination into positive action.

Many thanks to Amy Wolfe for sharing what Agsafe is doing for the industry.

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