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Rural Migration Blog

California Agricultural Employment in 2020

July 10, 2020

Employment in California fell in spring 2020 compared with spring 2019. Employment in May 2020 was 15.5 million, down 16 percent from 18.5 million in May 2019. After beginning the year higher than in 2019, California’s agricultural employment fell 20 percent in April-May 2020 compared to year-earlier levels.

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Covid-19 and Agriculture: Efficiency versus Resilience

July 10, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted national and global economies and food systems, prompting a discussion of efficiency versus resilience in supply chains, including the food supply chain. In the US, the food supply system experienced a demand shock as consumers stocked up on food and staples in March 2020 and a supply shock when meatpacking plants closed in April and May 2020 as workers contracted the virus.

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Hired Farm Work Force Reports, 1945-87

July 10, 2020

Average employment in US agriculture declined by 75 percent between 1945 and 2020, from almost 10 million to less than 2.5 million. The hired worker share of average employment in US agriculture doubled from a third to two-thirds over this 75-year period.

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Mexican Braceros and US Farm Workers

July 10, 2020

The Bracero program refers to agreements between the US and Mexican governments that allowed Mexican workers to fill seasonal jobs on US farms. Both the 1917-21 and the 1942-64 Bracero programs that were begun in wartime and continued after WWI and WWII ended. Second, there were gaps between program regulations and workplace realities that became apparent over time and contributed to US decisions to end both programs.

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Social and Labor Audits

July 10, 2020

The social and labor audit business is expanding rapidly as buyers or brands require their suppliers to pass audits that check on supplier compliance with labor and environmental laws. Some buyers require their suppliers to comply with more than minimum labor or environmental standards.

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CDFA: California Agriculture in 2018

June 24, 2020

California’s farm sales were $50 billion in 2018, the same as in 2017. Iowa was the number two farm state with sales of $28 billion, followed by TX, NE, and MN. These top five farm states accounted for 37 percent of US farm sales of $373 billion.

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Mexico-US Agricultural Trade

June 24, 2020

Mexico-US trade totaled $671 billion in 2019, when the US exported goods and services worth $299 billion to Mexico and imported goods and services worth $372 billion from Mexico, that is, the US trade deficit with Mexico was $73 billion.

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US Farm Employment and Farm Workers

June 24, 2020

The average employment of hired workers in US agriculture is about 1.5 million, and there are 2.5 million individuals employed for wages on US farms sometime during a typical year. Farm employment is concentrated in three interrelated ways: by geography, commodity, and size of farm. The 10,000 largest fruit and berry, vegetable and melon, and horticultural specialty (FVH) farms in CA, WA, FL, and TX account for over half of US farm employment, including a third in CA.

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Covid-19 and Meatpacking

June 24, 2020

Meatpacking was considered an essential business during the coronavirus emergency, and most animal dis-assembly plants expected their employees to continue to work. Meatpacking plants, nursing homes, and prisons were three hotspots for US Covid-19 infections.

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Covid-19: Implications for Farm Workers

June 24, 2020

The Covid-19 virus that shut down large parts of the world and US economy in spring 2020 had both short- and long-term effects on farm workers. Farm and other food system workers were deemed essential and expected to continue to work during the pandemic. Foreign farm workers were also considered essential, and special arrangements were made to ensure that H-2A guest workers could obtain work visas and enter the US despite closed borders.

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