John Oliver segment on farmworkers, Fair Food Program garners millions of views!

The latest segment on Last Week Tonight hosted by John Oliver focuses on the plight of farmworkers in this country, and champions the Fair Food Program as a successful model of human rights protection that can guarantee farmworkers their basic rights. So far, the YouTube upload of the segment alone has garnered over 2.5 million views, generating a small cascade of press and expressions of empathy and solidarity with farmworkers in their struggles for dignity.

But what sets the in-depth segment apart from so many like it is its inclusion of a solution to the myriad problems facing farmworkers: the Fair Food Program, which he calls a “success” and adds that it is expanding into more crops in more states, going beyond its beginnings in Florida tomatoes. 

The whole segment is worth watching, but here’s a link to it that begins at Oliver’s discussion of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the unparalleled success of the Fair Food Program:

The YouTube are full of former farmworkers and allies voicing their appreciation for the spotlight on this important human rights issue and telling stories of toiling in the fields: 

Being Mexican and knowing and working in this conditions I fully know how bad my people have it!! My respects for standing up to them!!! ❤❤❤”

“I was a child farm worker. While my friends were on summer break, I was waking up at 3am to get ready for work. I hated going back to school and getting asked, “what did you do for summer break?” My dad is still out there working the fields. Super grateful my parents taught me the value of earning a dollar. 

I was hesitant to watch this, but you did us justice. Thanks, John 😊”


“This story brought tears to my eyes. My 72 year old father is still out there to this day picking lettuce. I was once one of those underage kids picking at 14 in order to have clothes for school. Seeing the legitimate anger, outrage, and heartbreak in John’s eyes during this segment hit close to home. It is way too normalized amongst the Mexicans in my community that these conditions are just part of the way things are. I’m glad a light is being shed to finally correct conditions for those still out there. My family worked hard so that I wouldn’t have to, and I’m grateful I was able to do better for myself.”


John Oliver’s segment generated press of its own. Here’s Sarasota Magazine:

Sarasota’s Fair Foods Standards Council Was Featured on Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

April 18, 2023

One particularly harrowing quote from the show illustrates just how brutal the conditions can be. “A lot of people can’t stand it because it’s so hot,” one migrant worker said. “Sometimes you could feel the breeze from the pesticides they were spraying over there. It felt good.” 

However, because of migrant workers’ precarious legal standing in our country, there is little political will or infrastructure to ensure their rights. But Last Week Tonight didn’t just serve up a massive dose of doom to its viewers. It also showed that there are people and organizations who are working to improve the lives of the people who provide our food. That’s where the work of the Fair Food Standards Council (FFSC) featured. 

The show highlighted the success of of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ use of the Fair Food Program to improve their conditions. The Fair Food Program (FFP) is a partnership between workers, farmers and sellers that ensures the humane wages and working conditions for migrants workers, and the FFSC is the organization responsible for ensuring that the farms that participate in the Fair Food Program are holding up their end of the bargain. 


And Here’s the Huffington Post.

John Oliver Exposes Some Of The Most ‘Horrific’ Working Conditions In America

April 17, 2023 

John Oliver on Sunday night pointed out that much of America’s food is still picked by hand ― and many of those hands belong to some of the most poorly treated people in the nation: immigrant farm workers.
They’re so critical that they were named “essential workers” during the coronavirus pandemic.
“And yet while we claim they’re essential, we sure don’t treat them like it,” he said, noting that they’re among the lowest-paid workers in the nation while facing dangerous conditions on the job ranging from natural disasters to pesticide exposure to horrible bosses.

That extends to when they’re not even working, as many are placed in living conditions so bad that one location Oliver found actually functioned as a haunted house on Halloween.
“That is horrific,” Oliver said after showing footage of some of those living conditions. “No one would see that and say, ‘That is a good place for people to live.’ They’d maybe say, ‘That’s a nice spot for ghosts to throw up’ and that’s it.”Oliver called for better conditions and a path toward citizenship for the farm workers who provide much of the nation’s food.
“Farm workers provide this country with our most basic necessity, and in return we act like they either don’t matter or don’t exist,” he said. “The message that we have sent to them has consistently been: ‘You don’t count.’”


And finally, here’s the Boston Globe:

John Oliver calls for better labor conditions for farmworkers

On Sunday’s episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” Oliver focused on farming in the United States, describing the harrowing conditions often faced by foreign-born agricultural workers and highlighting programs that seek to mitigate labor concerns.

While he said farmworkers were deemed essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, Oliver described how poorly they’re regarded by their employers. He outlined dangerous conditions they face such as pesticide exposure, and provided a quick history lesson on American labor law in the 1930s failing to protect agricultural workers, setting the stage for today’s problems.


While you are here, we are also calling on allies in the Fair Food Nation to sign a petition in support of farmworkers in their fight for dignity and to help expand the Fair Food Program!

Read the letter and sign on by clicking on the button with the words “sign the petition” below or by clicking here: