April: CIRS Releases 3rd Farmworker Food Insecurity Study with Focus on Yolo County & Early Findings Published in Research on Heat Illness + More

This email contains graphics, so if you don't see them, view it in your browser.





 In this Newsletter  

CIRS Releases 3rd Farm Worker Food Insecurity Study with Focus on Yolo County

"We Just Have to Keep Working" Early Findings Published in Research on Heat Illness

Cal Ag Roots Podcast #2 Available

Rural California Blog

7th Annual Small Farm Resource Conference

California Institute for Rural Studies (CIRS) is the only California non-profit with a mission to conduct public interest research that strengthens social justice and increases the sustainability of California's rural communities. 

  Keep in touch!



Apologies for the lateness of this email, we have been having technical difficulties!


CIRS Releases 3rd Farm Worker Food Insecurity Study with Focus on Yolo County

"Assessing and Addressing Farm Worker Food Security – Yolo County 2015,” reveals food insecurity among farm workers in Yolo County is almost three times the national average, based on survey responses.

Even though the county has agricultural, community and programmatic assets, there is still food insecurity among farm workers at rates triple both the US (14.5%) and the California (15.6%) averages, at 47% of farm workers interviewed. In two previous CIRS studies of farm worker communities in California, levels of food insecurity among participants were also well above county, state and federal levels. In Fresno County we found that 45% of the workers we interviewed were food insecure and in Salinas, Monterey County we found 66% of the workers we interviewed were food insecure.

Food Insecure Graphic

From the Executive Summary, “California Institute for Rural Studies assessed the food assistance resources in Yolo County and the level of food insecurity among selected Yolo County farmworkers living in a rural food desert. The project was designed to address the USDA Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program priorities by determining the level of farmworker food security and planning long-term solutions utilizing the existing network of food assistance resources in Yolo County.

“For this project, we focused our efforts on farmworker families living in rural communities in Yolo County and, using survey methodology, assessed their level of food security.  We also identified the current extent of farmworker participation in food assistance programs.  We created three food inventories: types of foods farm workers prefer, actual fruit and vegetable consumption, and types of food offered by the Yolo Food Bank. In this way we were able to determine where the gaps exist, and how to address them to better serve farm worker communities. Based on our results, we offer guidance for food programs in Yolo County regarding both optimal geographic locations for food distribution to reach farm workers and the types of foods that are appropriate for this population. This report outlines the level of food insecurity among rural farm workers in Yolo County and includes a directory of food resources for the county, map of distribution locations and suggestions for improving services specifically for farm workers.” This report also includes maps showing where farm workers interviewed live in relation to the service areas of food programs, and the survey instruments themselves, both in English and Spanish. Read Full Paper Here

"We Just Have to Keep Working" Early Findings Published in Research on Heat Illness

CIRS in partnership with UC Davis Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (WCAHS), have published early findings from the California Heat Illness Prevention Study (CHIPS) in a special edition of the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development.

JAFSCD Cover Vol6 Issue2 MedResSMALLER

Heat-related illness (HRI) is a recurring and avoidable condition that results in multiple deaths in California farm fields every year. CIRS conducted five focus groups of farmworkers in Fresno, California, during the summer of 2013. Findings suggest that HRI cannot be viewed as simply a biomedical or behavioral issue, and that preventive health interventions in agriculture also need to take into account power and control structures existing in the industry. The article presents a complex view of farmworker self-care behavior. The findings suggest that future prevention efforts should be guided by strategies that integrate worker control with work-site organization and employer relations, as opposed to strategies that focus exclusively on traditional modes of training to advance prevention.

Michael Courville, CIRS Co-Executive Director and lead author of the paper notes, “the focus group data presented a surprising emphasis on workplace relationships among and between farmworkers and their direct supervisors as a big piece of the puzzle, it points our attention to the dynamics of low-wage workplaces and the motivations for self-care at work.” Courville further emphasizes, “this also calls to question the premise that better training alone will compensate for ongoing, structural workplace barriers to self-care. Our findings push workplace safety researchers and advocates, to engage more squarely with interventions that might reduce day-to-day barriers to self-care.”

CIRS serves as a research partner on this study with UC Davis. CIRS collects and analyzes qualitative data on the socio-cultural experiences of farmworkers in relation to HRI. Additional focus groups have been conducted with farmworkers in Kern, Madera, Merced, Stanislaus and Tulare Counties. Ongoing data analysis from those focus groups will further inform overall CHIPS findings and help shape recommendations for mitigation strategies and any proposed regulatory changes. Read Full Paper Here

Cal Ag Roots Podcast #2, "Can Land Belong to Those that Work It?" Now Available

Delta Mendota Canal

Until 1982, there was a law on the books—the 1902 Reclamation Act-- that limited the size of farms allowed to use government-subsidized irrigation water across the Western U.S. to just 160 acres. That's much, much smaller than the kind of massive-scale agricultural development that characterizes California farming in general and the Central Valley in particular. Our second Cal Ag Roots podcast tells the story of an activist group called National Land for People that fought to enforce the Reclamation Act-- and came close to achieving land reform in California's Central Valley. You can tune into the podcast on the Cal Ag Roots Story Hub-- or subscribe to the Cal Ag Roots podcast on iTunes. Take a listen, share it with friends and tell us what you think!

And there's good news for Capitol Corridor train riders, too: As of next month, our podcasts will be featured on the Capitol Corridor wifi landing page (where everyone lands when they log onto the internet on board), so that anyone who missed our Docks to Delta train ride last fall can re-create the experience with a mobile device and a set of headphones. We're excited to bring our stories to the wide audience of train riders.

Cal Ag Roots has been on the road lately, telling our stories live in Sonoma, Berkeley and Merced and we have a Santa Cruz event in the works for May. If you'd like to bring us to other places where we could be telling our stories, please reach out.

Next up: the story of the end of the Bracero Program, which will be available at the end of April. Stay Tuned! 

Rural California Report Blog Round-Up

El Niño’s Winter Storms Are No Cure-All for California Drought and In First-of-a-Kind Summit, White House Rallies Corporate Investment in Water Supplies both by Michael Doyle, California Agriculture Roundup by Philip Martin as well as our feature, below, Fight for $15 for Farmworkers by our own Co-Executive Director, Gail Wadsworth.All the articles are featured on our website and are available as free downloadable files.

Fight for $15 for Farmworkers

by Gail Wadsworth

Forty years after the enactment of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) in California, the economic status of California’s farm laborers has deteriorated, despite the remarkably positive performance of the industry as a whole.

A 2015 study by Don Villarejo compared the hourly wage rate for field workers in California over a 54-year period (1960-2014) (A New Paradigm is Needed for Labor Relations in Agriculture: California Agriculture and Farm Labor, 1975-2014. California Institute for Rural Studies) The long view shows that since 1974 farmworkers “have made no progress whatsoever in improving their earnings relative to other production workers in the state.” 

In fact, California’s farmworkers remain the state’s poorest-paid production workers. Current annual average wage rates paid to California’s direct-hire farm laborers are lower, when adjusted for four decades of inflation, than they were in 1974, before the law was passed. Seasonally employed crop worker wage rates are even lower. And fewer farmworkers today are covered by labor-management agreements than in 1974.

While employers say they cannot afford to pay higher wages, adjusting for inflation, the agricultural industry’s profits from farm commodities sharply increased during this same 40-year period, to a record high $54 billion in 2014 despite the continuing drought. Continue Reading

7th Annual Small Farm Resource Conference April 29 in Fresno

With this year’s theme “Together, One Voice, One Community,” the National Hmong American Farmers (NHAF) are the hosts, and it will be held at the Ramada University Hotel in Fresno.

"This conference is about allowing the farmers' to share their stories, building alliances, and coming together to connect agency resources to those who need it or do not have equal access," says, Chukou Thao, Executive Director of NHAF.

This event will give farmers the opportunity get hands-on lessons and get a better understanding of working with groups to better their farm operation. Groups present at this year's conference include U.S. Department of Agriculture, White House Food and Nutrition Services, Department of Pesticides, Wells Fargo, University Cooperative Extension, Community Alliance of Family Farmers, Cultiva De Salud, Hmong Veteran Farmers, Black Agriculture, Lideres Campesinas, CA Farm Bureau, and the CA Ag Commissioners Office. For pre-registration please go online.

Thank you for your continued support!

Gail Wadsworth & Michael Courville

 Co-Executive Directors,

California Institute for Rural Studies

 California Institute for Rural Studies
P.O. Box 1047, Davis, CA 95617


Not interested any more?