Ag Labor Identifies Solutions for Farmworkers

Ag Labor Identifies Solutions for Farmworkers

March 30, 2014

Housing & transportation recommendations to improve ag labor quality of life and labor force stability

 

Sebastopol, CA – On Tuesday, April 1, 2014, a multi-stakeholder task force will present the ag labor findings and recommendations of the California Agricultural Workforce Housing and Transportation Project to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. The project was a year long investigation into the challenge of providing safe and affordable housing and reliable transportation to the state’s specialty crop workforce, resulting in a report, SHELTER + MOBILITY: Recommendations for California's Specialty Crop Ag Workforce.

The key recommendations of the report include:

  • Improve existing and develop new farmworker housing by reducing barriers and dedicating state funding sources.
  • Develop a central, online repository to house information related to farmworker housing and transportation.
  •  Incorporate ag labor housing and transportation needs in federal, state, regional, and local planning and funding policies and priorities.
  • Maintain the newly revised definition of “rural” under federal law and create a recognized and accepted rural-specific definition of ”smart growth.”
  • Increase farmworker transportation options, both public and private.
  • Increase farmworker driver safety through training for farmworkers and their families.

There is an inadequate availability of safe, affordable housing and transportation options for California’s farmworkers. Not only does this impact the quality of life for workers and their families, it also affects labor force stability for the agricultural industry. Recognizing this need, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) awarded a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant to Ag Innovations Network to bring together 50 of the state’s agricultural, labor, housing, and transportation leaders to develop a set of recommendations for addressing these issues.

"We all respect the tremendous contributions of farmworkers to successful food and agricultural production," said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “California Ag Vision: Strategies for Sustainability recommended we pursue a suite of policies and actions to secure a sustainable agricultural workforce for California agriculture, including options for public transportation and affordable housing. The open and frank conversations held throughout this project were a critical step toward identifying recommendations to achieve our goal of improving the availability of safe, affordable housing and transportation for farmworkers and their families.”

The stakeholders involved in the project offered these recommendations in the hope of ensuring that resources and systems are in place that will result in all of California’s specialty crop agricultural workers and their families having safe, reliable, and affordable transportation to their places of employment, and a home that reflects their dignity and importance.

More information about the project is available at http://aginnovations.org/workforce/. The report can be accessed athttp://aginnovations.org/images/uploads/Housing_Transportation.pdf.

The April 1, 2014 California State Board of Food and Agriculture meeting will be held at CDFA, 1220 N Street, Sacramento. Meeting details are available athttp://www.cdfa.ca.gov/state_board/.

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