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Rural Migration Blog

Farm Workers and Paid Sick Leave

April 9, 2020

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201) requires private-sector employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide their employees with up to two weeks of fully or partially paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons between April 1 and December 31, 2020. DOL, which administers the FFCRA, can exempt employers with fewer than 50 employees if an employer believes that paid leave benefits would jeopardize the viability of the business.

Food Spending and Covid-19

April 9, 2020

Americans spent a record $1.7 trillion on food and beverages in 2018, including $628 billion at supermarkets and $678 billion in all types of restaurants, including taxes and tips. Spending on food in restaurants first exceeded spending for food at home in grocery stores in 2015, and the gap was widening until the coronavirus closed many restaurants in March-April 2020.

Mexican Fruit and Vegetable Agriculture

April 9, 2020

Mexico’s two million farms produce food and fiber for 130 million Mexicans and millions abroad, primarily Americans.

Corn in Mexico and the US

April 9, 2020

Corn (maize) is the world’s most produced grain. Most US corn is used for animal feed and ethanol fuel rather than food. The US produces about 367 million metric tons of corn a year, a third of global corn production of 1.1 billion metric tons. Mexico produces 27 million metric tons a year, three percent of global corn.

Covid 19 and Farm Workers

April 9, 2020

The coronavirus, which likely originated in a food market in Wuhan in Hubei province in December 2019, quickly changed work and personal lives around the world. First in China, and then in many other countries, workplaces and schools closed and people were asked to stay at home to avoid catching and spreading the virus.

The US food system

March 17, 2020

The US food system provides food and fiber to 330 million Americans and millions more abroad. The food system encompasses the farm input sector such as farm equipment makers and seed companies, farming, and the processing, transportation, and service involved in getting farm commodities to consumers.

Imports are over half of US fresh fruit and a third of US fresh vegetables

March 17, 2020

Over half of the fresh fruit available to US consumers, 57 percent in 2018, was imported, as were 32 percent of the fresh vegetables. Three-fourths of the 115 pounds of fresh fruit available per person involve seven items: 28 pounds of bananas, 17 pounds of fresh apples, and eight pounds each of fresh avocados, grapes, oranges, pineapples, and strawberries.

Farm hourly earnings are rising faster than nonfarm earnings

March 17, 2020

The average hourly earnings of hired US farm workers are rising faster than the average earnings of US nonfarm production workers. The earnings of all US hired farm workers averaged $15 an hour in 2019, according to USDA’s Agricultural Labor Survey, while nonfarm US workers in the BLS Current Employment Statistics program earned an average of $24 an hour.

A tale of two states: farm labor in CA and FL

March 17, 2020

California is the largest farm state, with farm sales of $50 billion in 2017, and the state with the highest farm labor expenses. The state’s farmers had $11 billion in COA total farm labor expenses in 2017, or 28 percent of the $39 billion US total labor expenses. Florida is the fourth largest farm labor state, with farm sales of $7.5 billion and farm labor expenses of $1.8 billion in 2017 (WA had labor expenses of $2.4 billion and TX $2 billion).

Overtime and California Farm Workers

March 17, 2020

AB 1066, the Phase-In Overtime for Agricultural Workers Act enacted in 2016, requires large farm employers to pay overtime wages to workers after eight hours a day or 40 hours a week by 2022. Since 1976, farm employers have been required to pay overtime after 10 hours a day or 60 hours a week.

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