North Carolina is one of the leading agricultural states in the country, bringing in billions of dollars each year. All of us have been nourished by the fruit of farm labor.
Yet what are the conditions faced by these essential men and women who pick the food that we eat? A woman who has worked as a farmworker for over a decade told me her story.
She traveled to the U.S. from Mexico as a single mother to find work and a better life for her children. She told me that in migrant farmworker camps in Georgia and in North Carolina, people were often packed into small trailers with no air conditioning, water or light.
She has also experienced wage theft at the hands of farm labor contractors, employed by some growers to bring migrant farmworkers to the fields.
Many farmworkers work 12-hour shifts, several days a week, yet according to the North Carolina Farmworker Institute, the percentage of farmworker families living in poverty is “nearly double that of other working families in the U.S.”