Creating Equality In The Fields

Expanding the Fair Food Program Beyond Tomatoes (2014)

Commitment by: Coalition of Immokalee Workers
Commitment Partners: Walmart, NoVo Foundation, Humanity United, Open Society Foundations, Oak Foundation, Ahold USA

In the recent past, farm workers on many of the tomato fields in Immokalee, Florida had to fill 153 buckets per day at 32 pounds each to earn minimum wage. Such hard work is made even more challenging by the abuse that farm laborers have historically endured in and out of the fields.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and its Fair Food Program (FFP) are changing these circumstances, using a market-driven approach that ensures that the human rights of tomato farm laborers are recognized, protected, and applied.

On a typical day before the Fair Food Program was in place, Benito and Carmela Garcia — tomato pickers living in Immokalee — started their day at 4:30 AM to get ready for work.

By placing farm workers at the head of the table and building alliances with major retail food companies, the FFP is harnessing the power of the market to end abusive and illegal farm labor conditions that have existed for centuries. At the same time, these major retail food companies — or buyers — are catering to a growing base of conscious consumers that care about how their food gets from the farm to the table.

Fair Food Program Farms Ensure:

  • A fair wage
  • Safe working conditions
  • Drinking water, shade, and clean restrooms
  • The right to not overfill tomato buckets
  • Zero tolerance for forced labor
  • No verbal or physical abuse, or sexual harassment
  • The right to report abuse without fear of retaliation

CIW’s 2014 commitment aimed to expand the FFP to include Walmart’s tomato suppliers along the Eastern Seaboard, as well as an additional crop within the company’s agricultural supply chain. In July 2015, Ahold USA — a major parent company for U.S. grocery stores — joined FFP. This fall, growers supplying Walmart’s bell peppers will sign on to the program.

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