Stalemate broken — two Florida growers move to implement CIW agreement with Whole Foods!

Alderman Farms and Lady Moon Farms, two of Florida’s largest organic growers, officially onboard to pass penny-per-pound on to workers, meet strict labor standards…

Senators Durbin, Sanders issue statements on the new agreements…

In a press statement released today, Whole Foods has confirmed that two of Florida’s largest organic growers have agreed to implement the principles of the Campaign for Fair Food, effectively breaking the stalemate established nearly two seasons ago when the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange threatened to fine any of its members that sold tomatoes under the terms of the CIW agreements. At that time, two Florida growers who had been passing on the penny-per-pound increase under the Taco Bell agreement ceased doing so.

Here’s the press release, followed by statements by Senators Durbin (IL) and Sanders (VT):

Florida Tomato Growers Sign Agreement with Whole Foods Market supporting the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) “Penny-per-Pound” Program

Lady Moon Farms and Alderman Farms are First in Florida to Join Effort to Improve Worker Wages & Working Conditions

AUSTIN, TX (June 4, 2009) – Whole Foods Market, the leading natural and organic foods supermarket announced today that Florida tomato growers Lady Moon Farms and Alderman Farms are the first to sign agreements with Whole Foods Market supporting the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ “penny-per-pound” program designed to improve wages for tomato harvesters.

“Lady Moon and Alderman Farms are examples of Florida growers that Whole Foods Market is proud to support” said Karen Christensen, Global Produce Coordinator for Whole Foods Market. “These farms are long term partners of Whole Foods Market and we look forward to continued growth together. Agreements like these are consistent with Whole Foods Markets’ core values and are in the best interest of the people who harvest our tomatoes.”

“The Campaign for Fair Food is bearing fruit,” said Lucas Benitez of the CIW. “For nearly two seasons, the Campaign’s promise of fair wages for Florida’s farmworkers has been held hostage by the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange. Today, however, the higher wages and fairer conditions we have fought for will begin to reach the workers who so clearly deserve them, thanks to the leadership of Whole Foods Market and the forward thinking growers at Alderman Farms and Lady Moon Farms.”

“Without a doubt, the food market is changing, and for the better. Sustainability, social as well as environmental, is the way of the future,” continued Benitez. “Together we — as farmworkers, farmers, and buyers — are forging a path toward that better future.”

In September 2008, Whole Foods Market became the first in the supermarket industry to sign an agreement with the CIW to work in partnership to help improve wages and working conditions for Florida tomato pickers.



Quote from Senator Dick Durbin:

“I applaud Alderman Farms and Lady Moon Farms for recognizing that treating workers fairly and paying a better wage isn’t bad for business but rather the best way to ensure the long-term success of Florida’s tomato growers. Whole Foods should also be congratulated for its leadership in demanding higher standards from its suppliers. All Florida tomato growers should follow the example set today and join with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in bringing fairer wages and more humane working conditions to all of Florida’s tomato harvesters.”

Quote from Senator Bernie Sanders:

“Today’s agreement is an important and hard-earned victory for tomato workers who have been fighting for years for an increase in their abysmally low wages and an improvement in their working conditions. I commend the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Lady Moon Farms, Alderman Farms, and Whole Foods for working together to make this day a reality.

With the signing of this agreement, it is long past time for the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange to drop their threats of fines or surcharges on other growers who want to participate in the penny-per-pound program so that more workers can benefit. As someone who has been to Immokalee and seen the deplorable conditions of farm workers there, it is my hope that today will mark the beginning of the end of the ‘Harvest of Shame’ that has existed in the tomato fields in Florida for far too long.”

Check back soon for more on this breaking news!