Imagine a world in the way we farm is perfect. There is enough food supply for the entire population, farm workers have excellent living and working conditions, and there is no underlying structural racism in our food system. Sadly, this is hardly the case for America’s current farming practices as a result of many factors and barriers.

The readings, “This Land Is Whose Land? Dispossession, Resistance, and Reform in the United States”, by agroecologist Eric Holt-Giménez, “Workers On Organic Farms Are Treated As Poorly As Their Conventional Counterparts” by Jason Mark, and “Produce Industry Promises to Improve Mexican Farmworker Conditions” by Los Angeles Times writer Richard Marosi all discuss this similar topic of the way America farms. The common issue between these articles being how concentrated authority in the farming industry has continually put immigrants, people of color, and women at a disadvantage. Through authors such as Holt-Giménez, Marosi, and Mark, the complexity of the issue of global farming monopolies abusing their power can be shown by the working and living conditions of immigrant farm workers, the disconnect between the population and farming corporations, and the history of structural racism found in the way we farm. Though they have similar ideas, they go about it in a different way.

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For example, Marosi, in his writing brings attention to the often unknown mistreatment of Mexican farm workers and the poor living and working conditions they’re forced to endure. He speaks of the harsh reality of what it’s like to work on a farm, stating, “thousands of farmworkers lived in rat-infested labor camps, often without beds or reliable water supplies, and had their pay illegally withheld” (Marosi). Unfortunately, these working situations have gone largely unnoticed, mainly because larger farms haven’t been held accountable for their actions. This conversation has only now been brought to our attention due to the Los Angeles Times conducting an investigation exposing this ugly truth. As a response to this publication, farming companies have only now put into place an alliance that will hopefully improve working conditions. However, this resolution doesn’t consider any input from the actual farm workers themselves and has “drawn critical reactions from growers and top federal and state officials…,  dismissing the coverage as an effort to harm the Mexican farm economy on behalf of growers in California and Florida” (Marosi). Large farms and government officials have continuously used their power as means to silence and take advantage of Mexican farm workers.

Even in their “attempts” to come up with a solution to poor labor conditions, farming industries still find a way to contribute to the mistreatment of immigrants. This half thought out plan clearly shows that they clearly value profit over the wellbeing of their staff. The fact global farming monopolies have been allowed to get away with the inhumane treatment of their workers for decades and decades shows that they hold too much power and an obvious ignorance of the American people. Additionally, author Jason Mark continues the discussion on poor treatment of farm workers, but this time on organic farms. People tend to give the word “organic” more meaning than it actually holds, thinking that the vegetable they’re holding in the supermarket came from the world’s perfect farm. Mark argues about the “disconnect between reality and public perception”. There seems to be a lack of awareness or a possible disinterest between Americans and farm workers. A survey found that,  “workers’ rights ranked fifth on a list of food-related issues that interested respondents — right behind the treatment of animals” (Mark).

This data reveals the harsh truth that the American population values the lives of animals more than they do the human lives of Mexican farm workers. This disconnect has even presented itself as a barrier in potential solutions of different programs to improve working conditions. Mark states, “there is a danger that having too many separate standards will be confusing to consumers and cumbersome for growers”.

Possible resolutions have been halted because they’re inconvenient. Farming industries use people’s lack of understanding as an excuse to not enact change but this idea is lazy. Change is something that takes time, they’re simply unwilling to put in the effort and are stopping before even trying. The disconnect and disinterest of Americans about workers rights on farms have led this concentration of power to hold its authority and the continuation of the farming industries abuse in power.

Farming monopolies aren’t just limited to farms with pesticides on them, it includes healthy, organic farms. And the effects aren’t just limited farm workers, more people suffer from this abuse in power.For example, Eric Holt-Giménez argues this idea of land grabbing, where the mass majority of farming land is owned by only a small amount of people. This concentration of power has ultimately led to the contribution of structural racism in our food system, targeting immigrants, people of color, and women. He goes about arguing his point using the historical perspective of land dispossession, stripping people of their land, as evidence. He discusses in the past and in the present how farming has always geared against people of color, often being harsh and cold in the process.

Holt-Giménez states, “Klan violence and Jim Crow laws enacted in southern states stripped African American farmers of their rights to vote or have a say in their destiny, forcing many into chain gangs, sharecropping and wage salary” (Holt-Giménez 253). Global farming industry have literally been ruining people’s lives for decades now. The racism embedded into our laws continue to give authority to farming industries, allowing them to do whatever want to whoever they want. If you thought racism in our farming industry was abolished, then you would be wrong. Holt-Giménez goes on to talk about the current reality of what it’s like to be a farmer, stating, “their prospects could not be worse. Unregulated market forces — in commodities  and land — are both a means for dispossession and barrier to entry” (Holt-Giménez 254). Global farming monopolies have gone unchecked for over 50 years.

Families, who are more often than not people of color and women, just want to make a life in farming. They’re forced to go through unnecessary barriers to achieve their goals and even when they do, they are continually being pushed out. Government laws have done nothing to regulate these powers, only encourage them. Their abuse in power in the food industry continues to reign on, taking out whoever dares get in their way. Through the various articles, it’s clear the authors take a similar stance against the concentrated power of bigger farms and organizations that contribute to racism that can be food system. The complexity of this abuse in authority can be shown by many factors such as, the mistreatment of Mexican farmworkers, ignorance of the public, and the structural racism built into the farming industry.

The significance of this issue is no one is holding farming industries accountable. History shows that they have continuously been allowed to treat their workers like animals, due to the laws in place that have encouraged this behavior and the American people who continue to act as a barrier for enacting change. The complex nature of this issue tells us that coming up with a possible solution will take effort on everyone’s part, including input from farmworkers, farming industries, and the American population.


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