Farmworkers are an integral part of the American economy, playing a significant role in providing an ample supply of low-cost food, year-round for U.S. households. Yet, despite their essential role in feeding our nation, they are often mistreated and abused by employers and face a multitude of barriers that keep them from ensuring even the most basic of living standards.
Farmworkers are routinely subjected to substandard housing, pesticide exposure, dangerous and exhausting work, inadequate wages, frequent housing and labor violations, intimidation, job loss if violations are reported, language and educational barriers, lack of transportation, and extreme isolation. The poverty and injustice that farmworkers endure are not merely the problems of an invisible group of transient unknowns, but of individuals with names and identities.
Between 100,000 and 200,000 mostly Mexican laborers are estimated to work in North Carolina’s fields each season. And while many return on a yearly cycle, more than 300,000 have settled out of the migrant stream and made our state their permanent home.