California is one of the world’s largest suppliers of agricultural products, with more than 400 crops, and exports topping $25 billion annually. The men and women who work on more than 80,000 farms and ranches across California are major contributors to our economy…and the food on our tables is a result of their labor.
And yet ag workers are among the most economically and socially disadvantaged groups in our nation. The majority are foreign born, and many are guest workers. Some of their challenges are rooted in the Bracero programs of the early 1900s.
Fast forward to 2023 and the recent flooding that devastated Pajaro Valley, and it seems that history still has lessons to teach. Thousands of acres of farmland are either underwater or steeped in mud and vulnerable to contamination. Farmers had already planted their crops when the March floods hit. Now they must wait 60 days or more before they can replant, assuming they have financial resources to do so. Meanwhile, farm workers are displaced, without work, housing or food for their families.
Edward Boss Prado Foundation, Rotary Club and other local organizations have mobilized volunteers to help with donations of food, clothing, hygiene products and other essential items.
Read about the Bracero Program history and its impact on generations of immigrant farm workers in our latest “Historically Speaking” column by Robin Shepherd and Mario Bañuelos in the Spring 2023 issue of gmhTODAY magazine.
Join us to commemorate Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, who contributed to the Farm Labor Movement by fighting for fair labor practices and civil rights. Check out these films, Cesar Chavez, Dolores (available on PBS), and Harvest of Loneliness.
Prefer a book? Consider The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Movement, and Dolores Huerta: Labor Leader (a Hi-Lo book for student education).