A new day dawns in Florida’s tomato fields…

Jon Esformes (left), Operating Partner of Pacific Tomato Growers, shakes hands with the CIW’s Lucas Benitez on August 12, 2010, after signing a groundbreaking agreement to implement the Fair Food Code of Conduct on Pacific’s farms.

“The wall comes tumbling down.”

“Victory long time coming for Florida tomato pickers.”

“Tomato grower, harvesters strike historic accord.”

Those were the headlines, splashed across newspapers all over the country, that marked a watershed moment in the history of U.S. agriculture: the announcement of the landmark agreement between the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Pacific Tomato Growers in August, 2010, launching the CIW’s Fair Food Program.

In celebration of the CIW’s 25th Anniversary, we need you to help us reach our $50,000 fundraising goal and set in motion the next phase of the Fair Food revolution.

Following the launch of the Campaign for Fair Food in 2001, farmworkers from Immokalee and countless consumer allies like you spent the next decade marching, fasting, traversing tens of thousands of miles on cross-country bus tours, and protesting outside the stores of some of this country’s largest fast-food, foodservice, and grocery industry companies.  Thanks to those protests, and the unwavering commitment of the “Fair Food Nation,” by 2010, when Pacific signed on to partner with the CIW in the launch of the Fair Food Program, we had won legally-binding agreements with 10 of the world’s largest retailers, including McDonald’s, Whole Foods, and Aramark (today, that number is fourteen, including the largest food industry company in the world — Walmart).

That historic moment of partnership between the CIW and Pacific Tomato Growers was captured by The Nation in an article published October 18, 2010:

It was an unlikely place to hear Abraham Joshua Heschel quoted, and the rabbi’s words came from an unlikely messenger.

At a news conference on a farm outside of Immokalee in southwest Florida, Jon Esformes, operating partner of the fourth-generation, family-owned Pacific Tomato Growers—one of the five largest growers in the nation with more than 14,000 acres in the US and Mexico—declared, “In a free society, few are guilty, but all are responsible.”

And with that he announced an agreement with the 4000-member Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to implement a penny per pound pay raise—which stands to increase workers’ annual earnings from about $10,000 to as much as $17,000—and establish a code of conduct that includes an external complaint resolution system, shade and protective equipment in the fields, and a worker-to-worker education process on their rights under the new agreement.

“For us, you wake up and you realize that maybe this is something we could have done yesterday, but I am certainly not going to wait until tomorrow,” said Esformes.

For those who have followed CIW’s decade-long fight to raise farmworkers’ sub-poverty wages and remedy oppressive working conditions—including slavery—this agreement marks the moment when a wall of denial maintained by the Florida agricultural industry came tumbling down.

To mark the CIW’s “Silver” Anniversary, help us celebrate the groundbreaking Fair Food Program by donating today!  We are calling on all of our supporters – whether you recently joined the movement or you’ve been walking shoulder-to-shoulder with CIW for the past 25 years – to help us reach our goal of $50,000 by the end of 2018.

Please donate and share our fundraiser with your networks!