FOG’s Social Justice Program
How can sustainable agriculture project our natural resources while ignoring our human resources? It cannot. FOG has always been dedicated to promoting agricultural and food systems that protect our planet, the people and animals who inhabit it, and our communities. One of the main ways FOG has activated this mission is by participating as one of the founders and management committee members of the Agricultural Justice Project.
Agriculture cannot be sustainable when farmers are subjected to injustice. Farmers today face insurmountable debt, many needing to work off the farm in addition to their full time, physically demanding on-the-farm work. Some farmers are subjected to predatory contracts that give all the power to the agribusiness firms to which they sell their products, while forcing the farmer to shoulder the risk. Agriculture under these circumstances is not sustainable.
Similarly, agriculture cannot be sustainable when farmworkers are subjected to injustice. Today in the United States grievous injustices still exist in dark corners of agriculture, where farmworkers don’t receive the same legal protections as other workers in the U.S. Some live in sub-standard housing, while some have their wages regularly held or stolen from them. Some farmworkers have had their passports confiscated from them, making it impossible for them to return home or find work on any other farm than the one that holds them. Many are exposed to toxic substances that make them physically ill and create developmental problems in their unborn children. Some farmworker families have to send their children to work in the fields to make ends meet. Agriculture under these circumstances is not sustainable either.
Florida Organic Growers, partnering with the Agricultural Justice Project, is working hard to bring justice and true sustainability to agriculture in the U.S.
Agricultural Justice Project’s Food Justice Certification
Florida Organic Growers (FOG) is a co-founder of the Agricultural Justice Project (AJP), which seeks to transform the dominant food system that has failed its farmers and workers into one where human rights and dignity are valued and rewarded, right along side protection of our natural resources. To this end, AJP created a domestic fair trade food label backed and governed by food system stakeholders. The Food Justice certification is unique in the high level of integrity set by the comprehensive standards, the non-proprietary approach, and the inclusion of farm worker organizations in the inspections. The third-party Food Justice Certified label means the highest standards of equity and fairness have been met, respecting all those who labor together to bring food to the table.
AJP’s food justice certification covers fair conditions and relationships for:
• Farmers and Buyers,
• Farmworkers and Food Business Workers,
• Farm Interns, and
• Children on Farms, in addition to requiring
• Protection of the environment (organic and sustainable farming practices)
For information and questions about the standards, trainings and technical assistance visit the AJP website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To sign up for participation in the launch of the program in the South email Leah Cohen.
Project partners are Florida Organic Growers, Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas/Farmworker Support Committee, and the Northeast Organic Farming Association.
Why Care about Fair?
To understand more about the challenged faced by family scale and organic and sustainable farmers in this country read up on predatory contracts, subsidies for large conventional agribusiness. The Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) works on protecting farmers from unfair contracts.
In the face of record low commodity prices and ever increasing market concentration, many U.S. farmers are turning to contracting for economic security. This program works to ensure these contract arrangements between individual farmers and processors are fair and equitable. Check out the latest news from their fight.
To understand more about the harsh conditions of farmworkers in this country, the efforts that some farmers are making to improve working conditions and the quality of life for farmworkers, and the advocates (including the Agricultural Justice Project) that are fighting for social justice in our food system check out this short three part video. Also check out this farmworker factsheet.
The California Institute for Rural Studies is the only non-profit organization in California with a mission to conduct public interest research that strengthens social justice and increases the sustainability of California’s rural communities. They often publish research on the conditions of farmworker in California which is one the biggest agricultural states in the US. Read more >>
Truth in Labeling:
Not all fair market claims are the same. When there is money to be made in ethical products, there will always be many who seek to make that money and capture the market share. Want to know more about how Food Justice Certification matches up to other fair trade certification programs? The Fair World Project did an interview with each program to get answers to five key questions. Learn more >>
In addition, the Domestic Fair Trade Association is in the process of developing a set of criteria by which to publish assessments of different fair trade market claims so the public can know what the differences really are. DFTA plans to have their final criteria published in 2012. Check back periodically for updates.