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Migrant farm workers are people hired to work in the farming industry on a seasonal basis, often performing such tasks as cultivating, harvesting, and packaging fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Some also work in the fishing, meat packing, and dairy industries. Farm workers in the United States—including permanent farm workers—earn an average of $10,000 per year;1 migrant farm workers typically earn even less. Farm worker wages have decreased by more than 20% in the last 20 years, after accounting for inflation.2

Because very few American citizens are willing to accept the low pay and harsh working conditions typical of migrant farm work, it is estimated that 81% of farm workers in the United States are immigrants (including 77% from Mexico),3 and that 52% of them are undocumented immigrants.4 They are usually young, male, and married.5

Migrant farm workers are an important part of the Yuba-Sutter economy. A century ago, Ralph Haines Durst's exploitation of migrant farm workers in Wheatland led to the Wheatland Hop Riot. More recently, many of the 25 men whom Juan Corona was convicted of murdering and burying on a ranch near Tudor were migrant farm workers whom Corona had hired.

Links

Migrant worker Farmworker

Footnotes

1. National Farm Worker Ministry website
2. National Farm Worker Ministry website
3. BOCES Geneseo Migrant Center, Migrant Farmworkers in the United States
4. Oxfam America. 2004. Like Machines in the Fields: Workers Without Rights in American Agriculture
5. UDSA Economic Research Service, Briefing Rooms. Rural Labor and Education: Farm Labor. March 31, 2008

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