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Rural Migration Blog

Farm Workers in Mexico and Turkey

September 29, 2020

Mexico and Turkey had gross national incomes (GNI) of less than $10,000 per capita in 2019, according to the World Bank. Mexico’s GNI per capita was twice Turkey’s in 2002, fell behind Turkish GNI after 2008, and was slightly less in 2019, when GNI per capita was $9,430 in Mexico and $9,610 in Turkey. Mexico’s GNI per capita rose 50 percent in the first two decades of the 20th century, while Turkey’s GNI per capita more than doubled.

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Covid-19, Farm Workers, and Food System Resilience

September 29, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted economies and labor markets. Governments issued stay-at-home orders for non-essential workers and activities, and unemployment rates rose despite programs and subsidies aimed at keeping workers on employer payrolls.

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Australia’s Seasonal Worker Program

September 29, 2020

Australia has about 75,000 workers employed in seasonal fruit and vegetable jobs, including 12,000 who arrive as guest workers under the Seasonal Worker Program (SWP). The goals of the SWP are to fill jobs lasting up to nine months in Australia and to promote development in the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) of Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu plus Timor-Leste by allowing workers from these places to earn high Australian wages.

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The CAW at 30

September 29, 2020

The Commission on Agricultural Workers (CAW) was created in Section 304 of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 to answer nine farm labor questions, including how IRCA's Special Agricultural Worker (SAW) legalization program and IRCA's employer sanctions affected US farm workers and farm employers. CAW also dealt with farm labor questions not linked directly to IRCA, such as whether agriculture relies on a temporary workforce and whether farm employers have trouble finding US workers because they do not use modern labor-management techniques.

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Migrant Farm Workers in Greece, Italy and Spain

September 29, 2020

The agricultural systems of Greece, Italy, and Spain produce many of the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed by local residents and Northern Europeans. Most farms are small and farmers are aging, but there are also large farms that hire foreign workers to produce fruits and vegetables, such as the “sea of plastic” covering fruit and vegetable farms in southeastern Spain.

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California Agricultural Employment in 2020

August 27, 2020

California’s Employment Development Department reported that agricultural employment in 2020 was 20 to 30 percent lower than in 2019, with the largest drop in June 2020. All farm employers with 250 or more workers are asked to report their employment for the payroll period that includes the 12th of the month; a sample of smaller employers provide employment data.

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1965: A Year of Transition away from Braceros

August 27, 2020

PL 78, the 1951 law that allowed Mexican Braceros to be employed in seasonal US farm jobs, expired in 1964, ushering in a year of transition in 1965 as US farmers hired US workers to replace Braceros. DOL prepared a report on farm labor that emphasized 1965 was a first step on a long road to encourage farm employers to improve wages and working conditions in order to attract and retain US farm workers.

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Mexico’s economy shrank during Covid-19 pandemic

August 27, 2020

Mexico’s economy is expected to shrink by 10 percent in 2020. The government has resisted pleas to make large low-cost loans to businesses or payments to families because President Andrés Manuel López Obrador does not want to increase the public debt, which is approaching 60 percent of GDP.

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California’s Hired Farm Workers in 1965

August 27, 2020

The year 1965 was a “time of transition” in farm labor as farmers who had relied on Mexican Braceros hired more US workers. The US admitted 4.5 million Braceros between 1942 and 1964. Since many returned year-after year, perhaps two million Mexicans were employed on US farms over 22 years. Bracero admissions were less than half of their peak 1956 levels in 1964.

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Farm and Nonfarm Labor Markets in the 21st Century

August 27, 2020

For most of the 20th century, farm labor reformers such as Varden Fuller and Carey McWilliams wanted farm labor markets to be more like nonfarm labor markets. Reformers criticized three features of many farm labor markets: limited coverage of farm workers under labor laws, intermediaries such as labor contractors who were often in a weak bargaining position relative to the farmers for whom they provided workers, and piece-rate wage systems that made costs predictable for farmers but earnings uncertain for workers.

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