Three keys to the future of the Fair Food Program: Expansion, expansion, and expansion…

You’re not in Florida anymore... When we’re up here, what I say goes, not the CIW!

Those were the words of a crewleader with one of Florida’s largest tomato growers speaking to his crew on a company farm in Georgia during the early years of the Fair Food Program, before the FFP had expanded up the East Coast, all the way to New Jersey (many of Florida’s biggest tomato growers have operations in multiple states, allowing them to supply tomatoes year-round, after Florida’s season ends in May).  Workers used the Fair Food Program’s hotline to report their crewleader’s thinly-veiled threat, but at that time the crewleader was right — there was nothing we could do to reassure the workers because the FFP’s groundbreaking protections didn’t extend to Georgia’s fields… yet.

Today, however, thanks to the CIW’s agreement with WalMart in 2014, workers on that farm in Georgia enjoy shade and adequate drinking water in the fields, no longer have to overfill their picking buckets or face the prospect of sexual harassment at the hands of their farm bosses, and have access to the FFP’s 24-hour complaint investigation and resolution process in case problems do arise.  Today, the Fair Food Program operates in seven states and multiple crops, and is expanding every day, with groundwork already underway to lay down roots in two of the country’s most important farm states — Texas and California.

We’ve proven that we can expand the Fair Food Program, and quickly.  But there are still far, far more farmworkers who toil beyond the reach of the program’s powerful protections than those who harvest our food in an environment of dignity and respect.  With every step forward into a new crop or a new state, we have relied on the donations and support of allies across the country to expand the program’s unique mechanisms for monitoring and enforcing workers’ rights.  

And to reach those workers who still desperately need the FFP’s help, we are going to need your support once again.  Help us reach our goal of $50,000 by the end of this year to celebrate the CIW’s 25th Anniversary and ensure that all of the food on your plate is Fair Food.

Because expansion, while possible, is not a foregone conclusion – not without your support.

The establishment of the Fair Food Program in 2011 created two distinct worlds for farmworkers: The new world, in which the protection of fundamental human rights had become a given, and the old world, in which business as usual – wage theft, sexual harassment, and even slavery – continued unabated.

For the first few years of the Program, workers described crossing the border between those two worlds like passing from day to night.  In 2014, however, the boundaries confining the new world expanded dramatically.  Walmart – a company with unparalleled consumer reach and a market footprint to match – joined the Fair Food Program, and that game-changing development instantly expanded the program up the East Coast, and into Florida strawberries and peppers, as well. 

That expansion in 2014 provided tangible proof that the Fair Food Program is scalable, and not a one-off event in U.S. agriculture, destined to be confined only to a single region.  Quite to the contrary, the FFP can be the future of U.S. agriculture, and beyond.

But to turn that potential into reality, farmworkers need your help.  Join the hundreds of other donors from this week – some who have given $1,000, others who have given $20 – in ensuring that the promise of the Fair Food Program is fulfilled on farms across the country. 

Donate here to help us reach our goal of $50,000 by the end of the year!