In the last several weeks, health workers in Immokalee, Florida, the nation’s tomato-growing capital, have detected an alarming spike in Covid-19 cases: an average of 24 new positives a day, reports Elizabeth Royte in FERN's latest story. (No paywall)
Like firefighters and police officers, farmworkers have been deemed “critical infrastructure workers,” meaning they will stay on the job even as the pandemic grows. But despite their essential status and a persistent outcry from their advocates, many of their employers, as well as state and federal agencies, have so far failed to address their heightened risk, reports Esther Honig in FERN's latest story.(No paywall)
In a first for the dairy industry, the ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s has signed an agreement to eventually buy all of its milk from Vermont dairies that uphold rigorous standards for treatment and pay of employees. The standards, known as Milk with Dignity, were devised by the workers themselves and based on the Fair Food Program established by tomato workers in Florida under the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW).
The nation’s largest produce industry groups have pledged to work together to improve farm labor conditions, in what could be the most significant step in the movement yet, says the Los Angeles Times. The Produce Marketing Association and the United Fresh Produce Association, which together represent thousands of retailers, growers and distributors, say they are considering an audit-based approach to improving working conditions, similar to that used by the apparel and electronics industries.
The Fair Food Program, the result of a years-long effort by tomato-farm laborers in Florida for better pay and working conditions, continues to expand, reports Modern Farmer.
Three years after winning a pay increase of 1 cent per lb, tomato workers in Florida are in dramatically improved conditions, says the New York Times in a story the describes better accounting of pay and better treatment in the fields.