Environmental Justice and Farm Labor

Utilizing a model derived from literature on environmental justice overlaid with multiple scales of agriculture, Environmental Justice and Farm Labor provides key insights about laborers in agriculture in the United States. It addresses three main topics: (1) justice-related issues facing farmers and laborers on farms; (2) how history and policy have impacted them; and (3) the opportunities and leverage points for change in improving justice outcomes.

It explores who labors in US agriculture and the justice-related issues facing these workers, including occupational injury and illness, lack of access to healthcare, substandard housing, hunger, low wages, issues pertaining to immigration, and the inability to organize. In addition, it assesses the impacts of labor safety, immigration and international policy, and in particular the effects of organic and fair trade certification. Two detailed case studies, one based on conventional agriculture in Florida and the other on organic agriculture in the Northeast, highlight the interrelated but unique challenges facing those who labor in the different sectors of this complex agricultural system.

Finally, it touches on justice claims and the role of grassroots activism in improving justice outcomes by highlighting organizations operating at multiple scales to contribute to the livelihood of farmers and laborers in the different areas of agriculture.

 

Reference

Berkey, R.E. (2017) Environmental Justice and Farm Labor. Routledge, London and New York

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North America

North America is the northern subcontinent of the Americas covering about 16.5% of the Earth's land area. This large continent has a range of climates spanning Greenland’s permanent ice sheet and the dry deserts of Arizona. Both Canada and the USA are major food producers and some of the largest food exporters in the world. Industrial farms are the norm in North America, with high yields relative to other regions and only 2% of the population involved in agriculture.

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