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Dear friends,

In 2008, a federal prosecutor called the fields of Southwest Florida “ground zero for modern-day slavery.”  

In 2014, one of the country’s premier public policy analysts called those same fields “the best working environment in American agriculture.”  

And in 2017, the MacArthur Foundation described the Fair Food Program – the force that had wrought the transformation of those fields – as a “visionary strategy… with potential to transform workplace environments across the global supply chain.”

And, now, we have the opportunity to expand that visionary strategy and eradicate slavery across U.S. agriculture, starting with the next Fair Food Program state: Texas. But we need can’t do it without your support as a Fair Food Sustainer.

What we have learned in this 25-year-journey is that slavery does not exist in a vacuum:  It is rooted in the fundamental imbalance of power between a farmworker and his or her boss, and in a sick economic system that trades the abuse of human beings for profit.  

But we have also learned that slavery and other human rights abuses are not inevitable.  If the underlying imbalance of power can be redressed, the abuse born of that imbalance can be eliminated, and ultimately prevented altogether. 

The Fair Food Program, which allows workers to harness the market power of massive retail buyers from Walmart to McDonald’s to enforce their own rights, has pulled slavery up by its very roots.  It does so by ensuring that human rights protections are a requirement for growers to do business with over a dozen of the world’s largest buyers, fundamentally changing the dynamics of the market.  It is no longer simply immoral to turn a blind eye to forced labor – it is now also bad for business.

The impact of upending the economics of slavery in U.S. agriculture has been nothing short of astonishing.  President Obama awarded the CIW a Presidential Medal for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Modern Slavery at a White House ceremony in 2015.  The Special Rapporteur of the United Nations declared  that the FFP “must be considered an international benchmark” in fight against modern-day slavery.

But, sadly, that isn’t the end of the story.  Here in Immokalee, we know the urgency of the problem directly and personally.  Outside of the Fair Food Program, we continue to receive and investigate reports from workers who have been beaten or pistol-whipped, forced to work for little to no wages, or driven into debt which they are forced to work off at gunpoint.

We’ve proven that we can put an end to those kinds of stories under the Fair Food Program’s unparalleled protections.  But, we can’t expand the Program’s footprint alone.  

Because you believe in a slavery-free food system, we need you to help bring this urgently-needed program to more fields across the U.S. by becoming a Fair Food Sustainer.

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RECENT NEWS

What is the secret ingredient to the Fair Food Program? Worker participation.

June 20, 2018

Dear friends, As we write, the CIW’s worker-to-worker Education Team is once again hard at work on a farm in South Carolina, talking to farmworkers about their rights under the award-winning Fair Food Program.  If today’s session is anything like the hundreds of others that have gone before it on farms from Florida to New Jersey, the dialogue will sound something like this: “Who really knows what’s happening between all of the tomato rows, each day?  Is it the people who work in the farm office?  Is it the crewleaders who drive between different areas of the farm?” “No,” the […]

“If I had stayed quiet, that man would still be doing this…”

June 19, 2018

“…If we stay quiet, change will not happen. If I had stayed quiet, that man would still be doing this… We need to speak out.  There were many abuses in the past, but I have more confidence because now, there’s the Fair Food Program.” Those are the words of a young tomato harvester who, in the very first year of the Fair Food Program, summoned the courage to call the Fair Food Standards Council to report a supervisor who had sexually assaulted her. Before the Program existed, she could have been fired for speaking the truth.  And so, far more […]

Big news out of the Fair Food Program!

June 18, 2018

Dear friends, Seven years ago, the Fair Food Program took root on a single tomato farm in Florida.  Within a month, it covered 90% of the Florida tomato industry.  Within five years, the Program reached tomato farms all the way up to New Jersey, and advanced into the strawberry and pepper fields of Florida.   As more and more fields were covered by the FFP’s unprecedented human rights protections, a new day dawned for the tens of thousands of women and men laboring on those farms, a day unmarred by sexual violence, poverty, and modern-day slavery, and instead defined by dignity, […]

No free passes: Wendy’s return to US doesn’t obviate duty to respect workers’ rights… It only puts them back where they started.

June 14, 2018

Despite repatriation of tomato purchases from Mexico, the imperative remains the same: Farmworkers in Wendy’s supply chains must be protected by the Fair Food Program, the only effective human rights program in the produce industry! Following Wendy’s announcement last week that that the company would be repatriating the vast majority of its tomato purchases from Mexico to greenhouses in the US and Canada by the end of the year, many in the media turned to the CIW for an idea of how the news might affect the farmworkers’ demand that Wendy’s join the award-winning Fair Food Program.  Because the Campaign […]

Half-way home…

June 8, 2018

Bowing to farmworker and consumer pressure, Wendy’s declares intention to bring tomato purchases back to U.S. “by the end of the year” in surprise announcement at annual shareholder meeting in Dublin, Ohio! Company stops short, however, of joining award-winning Fair Food Program, instead shifts purchases to greenhouse operations outside the FFP and professes blind faith in failed third-party audits… This past Tuesday, Wendy’s corporate executives and board members gathered at the company’s headquarters in Dublin, Ohio, for the fast-food giant’s annual shareholder meeting.  As the cool and rainy spring day dawned, nearly three dozen representatives of the Fair Food Nation […]

TAKE ACTION NOW: Email Wendy’s executives ahead of Tuesday’s annual shareholder meeting!

June 4, 2018

TODAY: Flood Wendy’s Board of Directors’ inboxes with support for farm labor justice! Tomorrow, June 5th, Wendy’s executives will be meeting with shareholders at their headquarters in Dublin, Ohio — and whether they like it or not, Fair Food is going to be squarely at the top of the agenda.  As we write, dozens of farmworker families are on the road to Columbus, readying to join scores of allies from across the Midwest at Wendy’s doorstep for a high-energy protest calling on the fast-food giant to join the Fair Food Program. Whether you’re headed to Columbus or reading this at home, […]

Fair Food Nation gears up for the June 5th Wendy’s Annual Shareholder meeting!

June 1, 2018

“Time’s Up, Wendy’s!”  40+ farmworkers, scores of allies to descend on Columbus to confront Wendy’s executives over failure to protect human rights in burger giant’s supply chain… Less than a week to go! We are in the final stretch before Wendy’s Annual Shareholder meeting, which will take place next Tuesday, June 5th, at the corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ohio, just outside of Columbus.  Building on the powerful momentum of last March’s 5-day Freedom Fast and 2,000+ person Time’s Up Wendy’s March to the offices of Wendy’s Board Chair, Nelson Peltz, farmworker leaders in Immokalee and consumer allies nationwide have been […]

“Where shooting is a pleasure”: Parkland students put Publix in the hot seat for political contributions to “NRA sellout”…

May 30, 2018

Parkland students notch another victory in fight for common sense gun reform with protest at Florida grocer Publix; Publix’s pledge to “never knowingly disappoint our customers or the communities we serve” prompts cries of hypocrisy, calls for supermarket giant to drop resistance and join the Fair Food Program… Last week, Florida’s “hometown grocer,” Publix, found itself trending on Twitter — for all the wrong reasons. Publix was under fire after being exposed as the top donor to a Florida gubernatorial candidate, Adam Putnam, who had happily declared himself a “proud NRA sellout.”  The revelation caught the attention of the ever-inspiring student […]

Civil Eats on Fair Food Program: “Meet the Farmworkers Leading the #MeToo Fight For Workers Everywhere”…

May 24, 2018

“By rectifying long-standing power imbalances, Worker-driven Social Responsibility drills into the foundation of the problem…” “No gender-based violence programs have achieved the same amount of leverage in fostering change…” Earlier this week, Civil Eats published an excellent, feature-length piece based on interviews conducted during the Freedom Fast in New York City that lends critical insight into the endemic, generations-old problem of gender-based violence in the agricultural industry – and the promise that the Worker-driven Social Responsibility model, fulfilled in the Fair Food Program, holds for eradicating such violence in low-wage workplaces around the globe. UC Berkeley PhD student Vera Chang’s […]

Campaign for Fair Food cited as example of new, diverse, grassroots movement with universal human rights as its compass…

May 21, 2018

National Economic and Social Rights Initiative Executive Director Cathy Albisa, in In These Times: “Effective human rights movements are not aimed at merely naming and shaming. They build power.” Some of you who follow this site closely may recall our first post — entitled “The arc of the moral universe is still ours to bend” — following the presidential election in November, 2016.  Here is an extended excerpt from that post: … Today, many people may find their faith in that prophetic phrase shaken.  Indeed, to many it may feel that our nation’s better angels have failed us, that our country […]