CIRS Blog about Rural California
As we approach Thanksgiving 2017, let’s give a thought to workers who work along the food chain, often in the lowest paying and most tenuous positions. According to a report from the Food Chain Workers Alliance, “More than 86 percent of workers reported earning subminimum, poverty, and low wages, resulting in a sad irony: food workers face higher levels of food insecurity, or the inability to afford to eat, than the rest of the U.S. workforce.” And workers along the food chain are not a small portion of the US workforce, five core segments of the food chain employ 21.5 million workers the largest employment sector in the US.
Our economy has been transitioning from one in which workers have been able to exercise their rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions to one where workers are, in effect, disposable. What are the trends that contribute to this situation?
 Production, processing, distribution, retail and service are the 5 core segments.
By Brian Shobe
The State Legislature took an important step in September toward recognizing and remedying centuries-long injustices for people of color and women in agriculture. Both chambers passed Assembly Bill 1348 – the Farmer Equity Act – with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill, authored by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), now heads to the Governor’s desk.
By building racial and gender equity priorities into the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s responsibilities, executive staff structure, advisory committees, and programs, the Farmer Equity Act moves us closer to ensuring that all of California’s farmers have equitable influence on and access to government resources, including the state’s Climate Smart Ag programs.
Approximately one in four farms in California are managed by farmers of color and approximately one in five are managed by women. California has the largest population of Asian farmers and third largest population of Latino farmers in the country.
But despite their sizable numbers, data from the 2012 Ag Census shows that farmers of color and women tend to operate on significantly smaller acreages, earn significantly less revenue from the products they sell, and receive significantly less in government funding compared to white farmers and men.