Farm workers are the poorest workers in the country, earning average annual incomes of less than $20,000 per family. They rarely get health and workers’ compensation insurance, despite laboring in unsafe conditions. In addition, farm workers often are excluded or given less protection from many U.S. labor laws, such as the right to organize and bargain collectively.
In 2010, the Rosenberg Foundation made an inaugural grant to support Equitable Food Initiative, an ambitious, multi-year effort that seeks to address these and more systemic injustices by enabling retail consumers to choose to buy food that has been grown and produced in compliance with domestic fair labor standards.
The Equitable Food Initiative is bringing together major food retailers and food growers to establish, enforce, publicize, and monitor a set of comprehensive fair and verifiable farm labor standards that will guarantee farm workers decent wages, safe and dignified work environments, and protection from employment discrimination, and more.
Recent research by Oxfam has found that socially conscious consumers make up 40 percent of the U.S. market, creating a substantial opportunity to raise the visibility of domestic migrant farm worker issues. Forty percent of respondents in a related Oxfam survey indicated that they would be willing to occasionally pay higher prices for certified products.
To date, the Rosenberg Foundation has supported the Equitable Food Initiative with $185,000 in grants.