WASHINGTON – Equitable Food Initiative, the workforce development and certification organization that partners with growers, farmworkers, retailers and consumer groups, announces the formation of its leadership team advisory group as a standing committee of EFI’s board of directors. The group is made up of farmworkers and production managers from certified farms who have completed EFI’s leadership team program training and participate in on-farm worker-manager collaborative teams.
The advisory group has been meeting since March to provide input on EFI’s strategic plan. It has brought a unique perspective to ensure that value is returned to workers through EFI’s multistakeholder model. The advisory group has also offered important suggestions to improve EFI’s training program and will help develop videos and stories that will be incorporated into consumer and retailer outreach.
From the time EFI began certifying farms in 2014, the board of directors has sought interaction with leadership teams to better understand the impact of its programs on the lives of agricultural workers. As the EFI program matures and continues to evolve to meet industry challenges, EFI board members and staff want a more ongoing and formal way to engage workers and gather their input on program improvements. The process to form the group started in early 2021 when leadership teams from certified growers were invited to participate in virtual consultations to form the leadership team advisory group. On October 6, the board voted to integrate it as a standing board committee to maintain the group’s influence on EFI’s governance.
“The advisory group is a pivotal step in maintaining our organizational commitment to have all members of the supply chain included, and to offer more voice and value for the future of EFI,” said Alice Linsmeier, senior facilitator for EFI. “Receiving direct input from the farmworker and farming operation perspective on program improvements is vital.”
Each participating leadership team nominated an advisory group member to serve as point person for any ongoing communication with the group. From 26 nominations, 14 members were selected, representing a wide diversity of EFI worker-manager “leadership teams” from the following companies:
· Buenaventura Ranch
· El Milagro de Baja
· El Sol, El Cultivo y La Tierra
· Frutos de Huerta Real
· NatureSweet Invernaderos Tuxcacuesco
· Promotora Agricola el Toro
· Rainier Fruit
· Rancho Don Juanito
· Rancho Nuevo Produce
· Rouge River Farms
· Stemilt Growers
· Windset Farms (United States and Canada locations)
The group has been meeting monthly to define its scope and form recommendations to the EFI board of directors and staff as part of the organization’s strategic planning process.
“With the support of the liaisons and staff, our leadership team advisory group will help refine the component of our program that returns value to workers and provide feedback on development and training,” continued Linsmeier. “The group members also have interest in providing valuable input and creative ideas on other areas of the EFI program, including our consumer and retail partner outreach.”
Equitable Food Initiative is a nonprofit certification and skill-building organization that seeks to increase transparency in the food supply chain and improve the lives of farmworkers through a team-based approach to training and continuous improvement practices. EFI brings together growers, farmworkers, retailers and consumers to solve the most pressing issues facing the fresh produce industry. Its unparalleled approach sets standards for labor practices, food safety and pest management while engaging workers at all levels on the farm to produce Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured® fruits and vegetables. For more information about Equitable Food Initiative, visit equitablefood.org.
View a list of EFI-certified farms at equitablefood.org/farms.