the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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proposed immigration legislation could have devastating effects on agriculture.

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President Donald Trump has today endorsed legislation proposed by two republican senators (David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas), which would introduce new limits on legal immigration. The new system would be based on merit over any other criteria, which means that highly skilled workers will receive priority over lower skilled workers or potential immigrants who have family members already residing within the United States. If passed, it would also reduce the number of refugees accepted by half, at a time when the world is facing the worst refugee crisis since WWII due to a complex combination of factors which include climate change and conflict.

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wages, immigration, and a labor shortage on california farms

CA Fruit Picking

According to a recent article in the LA Times, wages are up for farm workers in California and some farms are even offering perks (think 401(k), health care, vacation days, and profit-sharing bonuses) that were often unheard of in the world of agriculture. So why, then, are farmers struggling with what sounds like a crippling labor shortage? Paired with an increasingly restrictive immigration policy, the article suggests that it’s because native-born Americans simply don’t want to work in the fields:

But the raises and new perks have not tempted native-born Americans to leave their day jobs for the fields. Nine in 10 agriculture workers in California are still foreign born, and more than half are undocumented, according to a federal survey.

What do you think? Although the article has its holes and shortcomings, it’s a great start to a debate that must be had in California and throughout the country. Give the entire piece a read by clicking HERE.


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rad social justice and farmer training in the bay area

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The Bay Area Farmer Training Program provides the education, training and tools for a new generation of farmers in California’s Bay Area to create socially-just, ecologically sustainable and economically viable urban and peri-urban farm businesses. Exceedingly high recidivism rates, increasing immigrant populations, a scarcity of living-wages for vulnerable citizens, and the rapidly aging farmer population all combine to create an urgent need to champion collaborative strategies in community development and seed opportunities to access training, land, and jobs in urban areas. Between MESA’s experience connecting educators, mentors and farmers around the world, and Planting Justice‘s years of innovative and successful re-entry programs, we bring a wealth of experience to the Bay Area Farmer Training Program!
This program supports immigrants, refugees, formerly incarcerated, and under-resourced beginning farmers in having strong voices to lead their communities towards thriving, equitable and resilient food systems. Co-Lead Farm Educators Ana Galvis Martinez and Paul Rogé offer a comprehensive program featuring experiential learning, site visits, participatory presentations, anti-oppression trainings, online curriculum, and ongoing mentorship support for those who aspire to farm as a career path.

 


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NPR’s the salt puts spotlight on industrial ag workers

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Photo by Dan Charles/NPR

We don’t often see mainstream media outlets report on the often invisible farm workers that hold up so much of American agriculture– let alone do in depth and humanizing interviews with them. So, in case you missed it, we wanted to bring your attention to a series created by Dan Charles for NPR’s The Salt in which Charles interviews the largely-Hispanic migrant immigrant workers on sweet potato, apple, orange, strawberry, and blueberry farms. Even for those of us who have worked on smaller-scale farms, a look into the lives of workers on these gigantic combines is both fascinating and critical. We can’t recommend a listen more highly.

You can read Charles’s summary of his findings here and follow his links to listen to each piece individually.


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documentary: the hand that feeds

The Hand That Feeds trailer from Robin Blotnick, a film on reforming the food system by organizing from the ground up for fair wages, fair working conditions, and collective bargaining rights. This is a rare story in which workers, with tenacity beyond imagination, are actually able to defeat the giant. It is also a good reminder that food justice work in the United Staes should be inherently intertwined with immigration reform.