WASHINGTON – Equitable Food Initiative (EFI), the workforce development and certification organization that partners with growers, farmworkers, retailers and consumer groups, announces its support for the proposed new guidance on ethical recruitment from the Biden-Harris Administration’s Collaborative Migration Management Strategy.
The Guidance on Fair Recruitment Principles is part of the Administration’s strategy to expand access to lawful pathways for migration and to better manage the H-2 visa program that provides essential labor for the agriculture industry.
The new guidance outlines key areas related to recruitment infrastructure and processes, including the protection of fundamental worker rights, contract transparency, and the role of retailers and downstream supply chain actors in preventing abusive recruitment practices. The policy builds on existing Department of Labor regulations, as well as United Nations efforts to improve the recruitment process through the International Labour Organization’s Fair Recruitment Initiative and Guiding Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment.
Peter O’Driscoll, executive director for EFI remarked, “We welcome the Biden administration’s new guidance because it aligns well with EFI’s efforts to promote ethical recruitment and address the abuses that are still too common in the process. We have made our Responsible Recruitment Scorecard available at no cost to any employer who wants to detect potential human trafficking in their labor supply chain. And through interviews with over 1,100 agricultural workers we published 10 Ways to Improve Recruitment of Guest Workers to help produce grower-shippers optimize the recruitment process and reduce the risks to workers so they can arrive at the farm gate as highly engaged and productive employees. Because the new Fair Recruitment Initiative Guidelines reinforce our established standards, EFI is glad to endorse them.”
The new guidance is announced at a time when consumer demand for responsible supply chains is pushing companies to raise their own social, environmental and governance performance, and holding government officials accountable for immigration policy reforms.
Kenton Harmer, managing director of EFI, adds that “Just as the fresh produce industry adds value by building brands around their products, we must continue to de-commodify labor, recognizing the contributions each worker brings to creating sustainable businesses and healthy, safe produce. This starts by getting every mile of the recruitment journey right. Unethical recruitment leaks value out of the system and creates untenable risks for workers and employers. EFI welcomes the efforts of the Administration, the buying community, and grower-shippers to identify, mitigate and remedy forced labor in agriculture. Fresh produce should be known just as much for the ethical way it recruits and manages farmworkers as for its flavor and health benefits.”
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.