FRUIT FARM WORKERS DIVISION
Mission – The mission of the Fruit Farm Workers Division is to provide employment to farm workers with requisite skills and experience, while adding training components — remaining regulatory compliant to produce nutritious, delicious and disease-free fruit, organically grown to be known for its exceptional quality worldwide.
Goal – The goal of the Fruit Farm Workers Division is to fulfill approximately 1% of the world’s fruit need, marketed aggressively within the first thirty years of initial production, with continuing production expansion of apples, pears, cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines, and apricots.
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF FRUIT FARM WORKERS
Farm workers perform a combination of tasks involved in planting, cultivating, and harvesting of fruits and nuts such as — cranberries, apples, and pecans, according to instructions from a supervisor.
The farm worker also:
Tills soil, plants stock, prunes trees and bushes, and removes suckers and runners from vines and plants using tools such as shovels, hoes, tampers, pruning hooks, and shears.
Removes blossoms and thins fruit to improve fruit quality.
Harvests fruit [Harvest Worker, Fruit 403.687-018].
May light smudge pots and torches or start wind machines that heat and circulate air about crop during cold weather to minimize frost damage.
May lay out irrigation pipes, install sprinklers, and open and adjust water valves and gates to irrigate assigned fields.
May repair wire fences and farm buildings, using hand tools such as hammers and saws.
May load and unload trucks.
May guide harvester discharge spout over wooden bins to load fruit on trailer.
May bag or box harvested fruit.
May lay harvested fruit on trays in sun to sun-dry fruit.
May clean, lubricate, and adjust farm machinery, such as welders and harvesters, using tools such as wrenches and grease guns.
May clear and burn roots and brush and gather ladders and containers to clean fields.
May be identified with tasks being performed, such as thinning, smudging, and picking.
May be designated according to crop grown as Farm-worker — Berry; Farm-worker — Cranberry; or according to work location as, Laborer — Orchard; Laborer — Vineyard.
Farm-workers Working Crop History
The breakdown of the primary crops worked is as follows:
35 percent of farm-workers worked in fruit and nut crops.
23 percent worked in vegetable crops.
20 percent worked in horticultural crops.
16 percent worked in field crops.
5 percent reported working in miscellaneous or multiple crops.
Farm workers are employed in several states associated with various crop productions, all benefiting the American population at the dinner table. It is imperative therefore that the demographics of the farm-worker population, be presented in an attempt to stay abreast of workforce changes, due to pending laws and crackdowns on migrants working in the agricultural sector. Thus, the demographic information is important to EIF-Farm-workers Division, as it moves forward with plans to hire workers from this pool. Accurately assessing the demographic information of this population has proven difficult due to: a highly mobile lifestyle — limited English proficiency — varying levels of citizenship status — cultural barriers — and difficulties in classifying agricultural workers, all posed by the peak time and seasonal crop productions.
However, progress is being achieved. For twenty-three years, the Department of Labor has contracted NAWS — National Agricultural Workers Survey — an employment-based, random survey of the demographic, employment, and health characteristics of the U.S. crop labor force. NAWS collects information from migrant and seasonal farm-workers, and it has been one of the most accurate sources for obtaining demographic information on this group. The information is obtained directly from farm-workers through face-to-face interviews. It is made available to the public through periodic research reports and a public use data set.
Each year, between 1,500 and 4,000 workers are interviewed. This factsheet highlights recent demographic data from the 2007-2009 NAWS results. EIF Farm Workers Division will post the latest findings on this website as soon as it becomes available.
The majority (72%) of all farm-workers is foreign-born and 68 percent are born in Mexico. Nearly 50% come from west central Mexico while twenty percent are from southern Mexico. Three percent of farm-workers are born in Central American countries. 1 percent of farm-workers is born elsewhere.
Twenty-nine percent (29%) of foreign-born farm-workers have spent 20 or more years in the United States; Twenty-six percent have been in the U.S. for 10 to 19 years; Nine-teen (19%) have been in the U.S. for 5 to 9 years, and 26% have been here for 4 or less years. Farm-workers in the United States are an average age of 36. Seventy-six percent (76%) are over 25 years old; 13 percent are between 18 and 21; 9 percent are between 22 and 24, and 3 percent are between 14 and 17.
Seventy-eight percent (78%) of crop workers are male and 22% are female. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of farm-workers surveyed are married, 35% are single and 6% divorced, separated or widowed. Fifty two percent (52%) of all agricultural workers are parents.
The following was noted for English speaking ability: Thirty-five percent said they could not speak English “at all”. Thirty percent (30%) said they could speak English “well”. Twenty-seven percent (27%) said they could speak English “a little”. 8 percent said they could speak English “somewhat”. The average level of completed education was 8th grade. 40 percent had completed grades 1 to 6 — 17 percent completed grades 7 to 9. 28 percent had completed grades 10 to 12. And 9 percent attained some form of higher education.
The average individual farm-worker income ranged from $12,500 to $14,999 and the average total family income ranged from $17,500 to $19,999. Twenty-three percent (23%) of all farm-workers had total family incomes below the U.S. government’s poverty guidelines. Forty-three percent (43%) of farm-workers said they, or someone in their household, had used need-based or contribution-based public assistance within the last two years: 23 percent used need-based assistance.12 percent used contribution-based assistance. 8 percent used both need and contribution based assistance.
Forty-two percent (42%) of farm-workers surveyed were migrants, having traveled at least 75 miles within the previous year to obtain a farm job. 35 percent of migrants traveled back-and-forth from a foreign country, primarily Mexico. 26 percent traveled only within the United States, of whom: 14 percent traveled to multiple farm locations inside the United States. 13 percent traveled 75 miles or more to one location inside the U.S. Farm-workers surveyed had an average of 13 years in U.S. farm experience.
Thirty-two percent (32%) of farm-workers had 4 or less years of farm work experience, 26% of farm-workers had 20 years or more of farm work experience, 24% had 10 to19 years of farm work experience, and 18% had 5 to 9 years of farm work experience.
The majority of farm-workers (69%) found their current job through friends or relatives. Eighty-two (82%) percent of foreign-born farm-workers obtained a job the same year that they came to the United States. Eighty-eight percent (88%) of agricultural workers said they were hired directly, while 12 percent said they were labor contracted. Eighty-three percent (83%) of farm-workers said they were paid by the hour, 11 percent were paid by the piece, and 6 percent were salaried or had other payment methods.
Farm-workers had been employed with their current farm employer for an average of four and a half years. The majority (60%) said that their current job was seasonal and 25 percent said they worked year-round. Farmworkers spent, on average, about 66 percent of the year performing U.S. farm work. Mexican-born farm-workers spent 36 weeks of their year working in U.S. farm jobs. U.S.-born farm-workers spent an average of 31 weeks working in U.S. farm jobs. Workers from Central America were employed in U.S. farm jobs for the most weeks of the year, with an average of 40 weeks.
Farm-workers worked an average of 42 hours per week, 25 percent worked less than 35 hours, 25 percent worked between 35 and 40 hours, 25 percent worked between 41 and 49 hours, and 25 percent worked 50 hours or more. When not employed by farm work, farm-workers spent 16 percent residing, but not working in the United States, 7 percent of the year outside of the U.S. and 10 percent of the year in non-farm employment.
Only 39 percent of farm-workers reported being covered by unemployment insurance, 54 percent said they were not and 8 percent did not know. A mere 8 percent of farm-workers reported being covered by employer-provided health insurance, a rate that dropped to 5 percent for farm-workers who are employed seasonally and not year-round.
One of the most common and important questions regarding the agricultural population is how many farm-workers there really are in a particular region, state or in the nation as a whole. Estimating the size of this population is difficult for the same reasons mentioned earlier, related to high mobility, language and cultural differences, and varying levels of citizenship status, among others. Fortunately, some resources are available, including the work of Dr. Alice Larson in the Migrant and Seasonal Enumeration Profile Studies and the NCFH population estimation studies, which use methodology developed in collaboration with JBS International Inc., Aguirre Division. NCFH’s population estimation studies use the best available data and a readily understandable formula to compute farm-worker population estimates. Information acquired from some of the sources listed below:
More information on both of these resources can be found on the NCFH website. Larson, Alice, and Plascencia, Luis. Migrant Enumeration Study.Washington, D.C.: Office of Minority Health, 1993. Carroll, Daniel, Georges, Annie and Saltz, Russell. Changing Characteristics of U.S. Farm Workers: 21 Years of Findings from the National Agricultural Workers Survey (presentation, Immigration Reform and Agriculture Conference: Implications for Farmers, Farm Workers and Communities, Washington D.C., May 12, 2011). 3
Findings from the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) 2001-2002. A Demographic and Employment Profile of United States Farm Workers.United States Department of Labor, March 2005.