May: CIRS to Study Impact of California Wage Increase on Farmworkers, "Break Down of the Bracero Program" Podcast is Now Live + More

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 In this Newsletter  

CIRS to Study Impact of California Wage Increase on Farmworkers

"Break Down of the Bracero Program" Podcast is Now Live

“Why the People Picking California's Tomatoes Can't Afford to Eat Them”

Focus on CIRS Partners: Aubrey White

Rural California Blog

12th Annual Pick & Gather Festival, June 4 & 5

Register to Vote in CA Primary by May 23

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. 

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CIRS to Study Impact of California Wage Increase on Farmworkers

On April 4th California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 3 into law, which will incrementally increase the hourly state minimum wage to $15 by 2022.

This decision to raise wages for working Californians rightfully included farmworkers, the 500,000 men, women and youth (i) who bring California’s harvest to the tables of millions.

This decision bucks a historical trend of excluding farmworkers from rules and legislation aimed at improving the well-being of low-wage workers. This is an important time in California agricultural history and there is much to be learned from the changes the bill will bring in the years ahead.

CIRS is ready to study these changes. This May we will embark upon a targeted research initiative that builds upon our archive of farm labor research, to inform and guide responses to SB 3 implementation within agricultural communities. Continue Reading

Cal Ag Roots Podcast #3 "Break Down of the Bracero Program" is Now Live!

Podcast 3 Braceros

Cal Ag Roots project’s 3rd podcast “Break Down of the Bracero Program,” is now live, and it rounds out our first story series, “Docks to Delta.” The podcast tells the story of the end of the Bracero program and the rise of the United Farm Workers. It explores how the Bracero program became abusive over the course of decades, eventually crumbling under organizing pressure from farm workers. And it’s also the surprising story of what that farm worker movement missed in bringing down the Bracero program-- told here by people with personal connections to the work. 

Cal Ag Roots Project Director Ildi Carlisle-Cummins says, “We've been hearing a lot of searingly anti-immigrant statements in the news lately. It’s hard to imagine, but Mexican immigrants who came to work in California’s farm fields weren’t always treated as criminals. In fact, Braceros were guestworkers sent to the US by the Mexican government during WWII as part of the war effort. They were young men, sent to save the crops left in the fields as American men enlisted. And they were seen at the time as heroes pitching in-- a forgotten part of the “greatest generation.”

Cal Ag Roots worked closely with two scholars who are also the grandsons of Braceros, Ignacio Ornelas and Mario Sifuentez, to produce this podcast, and also had immense help from Audio Producer Aubrey White (read more about Aubrey below). Listen here

“Why the People Picking California's Tomatoes Can't Afford to Eat Them”

Thank you to Reporter Sara Rathod for helping us spread the word through Mother Jones Magazine about "Assessing and Addressing Farm Worker Food Security - Yolo County 2015" our third farm worker Food Insecurity Study. Her article is below.

Spring is upon us, which means the weather is finally nice enough to sit outside and munch on a grilled burger slathered with ketchup. Or, if you prefer, a crispy salad topped with strawberries and walnuts. Either way, chances are that at least a few of the ingredients in your meal were grown in California—the country's cornucopia. The Golden State cultivates more than a third of all vegetables and two-thirds of all fruits and nuts sold domestically. California is also home to the largest number of farmers markets and, according to the most recent USDA Organic Survey, the highest number of 100 percent organic farms of any state.

But many of the people growing and picking this food would view a fresh spring picnic as a rare luxury. A high percentage of farmworkers in California's agricultural counties struggle with hunger and diet-related health problems, according to a new report by the policy research group California Institute for Rural Studies. Nearly half of the workers interviewed in Yolo County, just east of the state's capital, have trouble putting dinner on the table, a rate nearly three times higher than national and state averages. Continue Reading

Focus on CIRS Partners: Aubrey White

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Aubrey White has worked closely with our Cal Ag Roots Project Team as audio producer for the Docks to Delta podcast series. Any of you who joined us on the train last fall for Docks to Delta, Live! You have also heard her narration of the tomato harvester story. Her expert story-crafting and audio editing skills have shaped Docks to Delta in important ways-- since the series is now complete, we thought it was a good time to spotlight her work here.

Aubrey is a communications professional focused on multimedia production, information design, and stakeholder outreach largely about agricultural issues. She works as a freelance media producer and writer and serves as the Communications Coordinator for the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, where she works with faculty, UC Cooperative Extension and growers to improve the translation of agricultural science through digital media, writing, and social media technologies. She has a master's degree in Community Development from UC Davis and a certificate in documentary production from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. She has several years of agricultural experience and previously co-owned and operated a small farm in California's Central Valley. She's interested in the intersections of agriculture, technology, and seeks ways that innovative communication and storytelling can improve the viability of sustainable agriculture. Learn more about Aubrey's work here.


Rural California Report Blog Round-Up

Combating Food Insecurity in California Schools by Fran Kritz, Northern California Lawmakers Question Huge Westlands Water District Deal by Michael Doyle, Valley’s Westside Farmers Seethe Over Tiny Water Allocation From Feds by Robert Rodriguez as well as our feature, below,

What Is Climate Smart Agriculture? By Renata Brillinger, Executive Director, California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN).

All the articles are featured on our website and are available as free downloadable files.

What is Climate Smart Agriculture?

by Renata Brillinger

climate smart graphicNewsletter

You may have been hearing the phrase “climate smart agriculture” more lately. Governor Brown embraced the term in his 2016-17 budget proposal. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a climate smart agriculture initiative. And international climate efforts include the UN’s work on support climate smart agricultural practices.

So what is climate smart agriculture? Like the phrase “sustainable agriculture,” it is not universally defined, and it is used to mean many things to many people.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations takes credit for first coining the term in the lead up to the 2010 Hague Conference on Food Security, Agriculture and Climate Change. The FAO defines climate smart agriculture as “a means of identifying which production systems and enabling institutions are best suited to respond to the challenges of climate change for specific locations, to maintain and enhance the capacity of agriculture to support food security in a sustainable way.” Continue Reading

12th Annual Pick & Gather Festival, June 4&5

 Pick and Gather collage

Riverdance Farms in Livingston, Merced County will host their annual festival on June 4th and 5th. The Pick and Gather offers a fun family experience along the Merced River with a whole weekend full of activities including kayaking lessons, 3 stages with live music, science, wildlife viewing, vendors, food, games, crafts and storytellers, Geo-catching, pick your own fruit, river adventures and lots more. There is overnight camping along the Merced River with campsites in the lush organic orchard groves for overnight visitors. If you interested in advance tickets/group rates, more information, camping reservations, vendor spots, or volunteer opportunities, check the website or email Cindy.

Register to Vote in CA Primary by May 23

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Thank you for your continued support!

Gail Wadsworth

 Executive Director,

California Institute for Rural Studies

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


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