March 19, 2021
The Farm Workforce Modernization Act
The Farm Workforce Modernization Act (HR 1603) was re-introduced in March 2021 by Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA). The previous version of the FWMA, HR 5038, was introduced in October 2019 and approved by the House on a 260-165 vote in December 2019. Most farm organizations and worker advocates endorse the FWMA.
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International Migration in 2020
The UN defines international migrants as persons who cross national borders and stay outside their country of birth a year or more. The 281 million international migrants in 2020 were 3.6 percent of the world’s 7.7 billion people.
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Labor Standards Enforcement in California Agriculture
California has a third of US farm workers and state labor standards laws that provide more protection for farm workers than federal laws. An analysis of 787 state labor law compliance investigations of California farms between 2016 and 2019 found that three-fourths of the farms owed back wages to their employees, and that most did not pay the back wages that were assessed by 2019.
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Farm earnings over three decades
Between 1989 and 2019, the real hourly earnings of nonsupervisory US farm workers rose by 40 percent, twice as fast as the inflation-adjusted average hourly earnings of nonfarm production workers. Farm worker earnings data are collected by USDA’s Farm Labor Survey, and nonfarm production worker earnings by the BLS Current Employment Statistics program.
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Farm Labor and the Prosperity Paradox
Most of the world’s workers were employed in agriculture until the 20th century, when economic development in industrial countries pushed and pulled farmers and farm workers into nonfarm jobs, where wages are generally higher and most jobs offer benefits that range from health insurance to pensions. Youth growing up on farms are often attracted to the bright lights of cities for opportunity, explaining why there is far more rural-urban than international migration.
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February 24, 2021
The H-2A Program and AEWRs
US farm employers may be certified by the US Department of Labor (DOL) to recruit and employ foreign workers to fill seasonal US jobs if they satisfy two conditions. First, they must try and fail to find local workers, and second, they must ensure that the presence of the migrant guest workers will not adversely affect similar local workers.
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California Farm Employment: 2019 versus 2020
What happened to farm employment and farm workers during the covid pandemic of 2020? California has comprehensive data on farm employment, but two major data sources present different pictures.
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US Imports of Fresh Fruit and Vegetable
The US imports almost two-thirds of its fresh fruit and one-third of its fresh vegetables. The share of imports is rising for many fruits and vegetables due to higher US incomes that support a year-round demand for fresh produce and freer trade with countries that export fresh fruits and vegetables.
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Alternatives to Hand Labor in Apples
Apples originated in Central Asia. China is the world’s major apple producer, accounting for 39 million of the 86 million tons of apples produced in 2018, when the US produced five million tons of apples, Poland four million, Turkey 3.5 million, and Iran 2.5 million. Apples play an important role in mythology and religion as a forbidden fruit, as with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
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H-2 Guest Workers and Florida Sugar
Florida agriculture is unlike agriculture elsewhere because most of the state’s fruits and vegetables are harvested during the winter months, when crop production in other states is low but fruit and vegetable imports from countries with warmer weather are high. As a result, Florida agriculture is more protectionist than US agriculture, which tends to embrace free trade because US agriculture is a net exporter of farm commodities.
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