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January 2009, Volume 15, Number 1

Rural America

California: Education, Housing, Air
California's unemployment rate was 8.4 percent in November 2008, the third-highest rate in the US. Most San Joaquin Valley counties had unemployment

Agriprocessors, JBS-Swift, Smithfield
A May 12, 2008 ICE raid at Agriprocessors in Postville in northeastern Iowa resulted in the arrest of 389 workers. Within eight days, 302 of the

Rural Development
About 50 million Americans live in the 2,051 nonmetro counties, those outside commuting distance of urbanized areas with at least 50,000 people.

Farm Workers

California: Heat, EEOC, OSC, Machines
Four of the seven deaths due to heat-related stress among California workers in 2008 were in agriculture, as were more than half of the 60

UFW, ALRB, California Unions
The UFW in November 2008 announced a renegotiated contract with Countryside Mushrooms in Gilroy that raised wages by 8.6 percent over three years.

Florida: CIW, Sugar
Florida. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers in December 2008 signed an agreement with Subway, the largest restaurant buyer of tomatoes, that obliges

North Carolina
The Toledo-based Farm Labor Organizing Committee represents 6,000 H-2A workers brought from Mexico by the North Carolina Growers Association, the

Northwest, Northeast
Oregon. Oregon's minimum wage rose from $7.95 to $8.40 an hour effective January 1, 2009. The federal minimum wage, $6.55 an hour, is scheduled to

Labor, DOL, NLRB, Unions
The US unemployment rate rose to 7.2 percent in December 2008, the highest rate since 1994, as payroll employment shrank by almost 20,000 jobs per


Immigration Reform: AgJOBS, EARA
Immigration is not likely to be among the first issues to be tackled by the Obama administration. In 2004, President Bush announced principles for

H-2A Re-Engineering, Braceros
The US Department of Labor (DOL) "re-engineered" its H-2A regulations effective January 17, 2009, converting the H-2A program from a certification to

Canada: SAWP, Unions
SAWP. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) of Canada (, has been trying to organize Mexican workers admitted under the

UK: Migrants
The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme allows British farmers to hire foreign farm workers to fill seasonal jobs. In 2005, half of all farm

New Zealand, Australia
Australia and New Zealand, which have important fruit-exporting industries, have begun to import seasonal workers from Pacific Islands in a bid to

Korea, Brazil
Korea. President Lee Myung-bak in December 2008 instructed the Cabinet to give special consideration to farmers requesting foreign workers. Lee


Food Costs and Labor Costs: 2007
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistic's Consumer Expenditure Survey, there were 120 million "consumer units" in 2007. They had an average of

California: Crops, Prop 2
Almonds have been a success story for California farmers, with prices and production rising. However, prices fell from $2 a pound in 2007 to $1 a

USDA projected net farm income of $87 billion in 2008, about the same as in 2007 but far above the $60 billion a year average of the past decade.

Wine and Food
Wine. California growers received an average price for wine grapes of $522 a ton in 2007; $626 for red varieties and $482 for white varieties. The

Global: CO2, China, Fish, Potatoes
Representatives of 187 countries met in Poznan, Poland to discuss ways of combating global warming under the UN Framework Convention on Climate

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