Do you believe in dignity, respect and human rights? This Farmer Friday, we will chat about food justice in the farm system.
Each Friday in November and December, we are excited to bring you stories of what Florida Organic Growers (FOG) has accomplished in the organic and farming industry and how its impacted farmers, consumers and the community while spotlighting farmers in Florida who have benefitted from our work.
Food Justice: Fair treatment for all who labor in the food and farm system
Buying organic is important not just for your personal health and the health of the land, but also for the health of those who work in the fields growing that food. However, there are other challenges in our food system when you start looking through a social justice lens.
Did you know farmworkers are exempt from some of the labor laws that protect almost all other workers in the United States (e.g., such as right to overtime pay and right to organize)?
Farm work is consistently one of the top three most dangerous jobs in the United States and also one of the lowest paid jobs, with an average annual income of between $12,500 and $15,000 for an individual and $17,500 and $20,000 for a family.*
These statistics are shocking yet very real.
In 1999, recognizing that the U.S. National Organic Program’s standards did not address the people involved in organic agriculture, FOG Executive Director Marty Mesh collaborated with other nonprofits working to create equity and fairness in our food system to begin a stakeholder process to develop standards for the fair and just treatment of the people involved in organic and sustainable agriculture. The group called the effort the Agricultural Justice Project(AJP).
AJP seeks to set the bar high for social justice in the food system and transform the dominant food system that has failed its farmers and workers into one where human rights and dignity are valued and rewarded, right alongside protection of natural resources.
AJP created a domestic fair trade food label, called Food Justice Certified, which is backed and governed by food system stakeholders. 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 Family Garden, a 25-acre Certified Organic farm located in Bell, was the first farm in the south to apply for the Food Justice Certified label.
“I want to grow food as respectfully and honorably as I can,” said Jordan Brown, owner of The Family Garden. “I have experienced positive feedback from many of our customers and others in the community in regards to our Food Justice Certified label. The positive feedback has helped us establish more loyal customers.”
“I am glad there are organizations working together to create a certification, to have a third party come in and verify what the farms are saying and create a level of accountability.”
To further advocate for farmworker rights, FOG, along with AJP and Little Bean Productions, created Hungry for Justice: Spotlight on the South, a social justice film that tells the story of The Family Garden and their commitment to focus on social justice issues for their workers by seeking Food Justice Certified label.
FOG’s passion is to advocate for farmer and farmworker rights, dignity and respect for the environment.
Please join us as we continue our fight for all who labor in the food and farm system and become a FOG member today!
*NAWS 2007-2009 data published by National Center for Farmworker Health, Inc.