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Labor in the Food System from Farm to Table

INFAS-Sponsor-WebSubmission deadline: September 22, 2015

Publication in the winter or spring 2016 issue


From migrant laborers and apprentices in our fields, to cutters in meatpacking plants and line workers in restaurants and food service, the world's food system is balanced on the backs of an often exploited group of people. The food system may be the largest employer in the world, but there is a dearth of research on the subject of labor in the food system.


JAFSCD welcomes submission of papers that build on descriptions and analyses of the scale and scope of labor problems in the food system, as well as those that inform solutions. This might include the identification and testing of effective empowerment strategies, best practices, win-win relationships, and changed power dynamics.




Examples of papers might include (but are not limited to):

  • Case studies of the transition of farm laborers to management positions or to ownership
  • Analyses and reflections on household food labor, both paid and unpaid
  • Analyses of power dynamics and politics related to guest workers (H2A and H2B)
  • Economic impacts of the shift to guestworkers in the food system and immigration reform
  • Cases of win-win collaborations between management and labor in the food system
  • Surveys of farm apprentices with respect to the impact of their experience and what they learned
  • Legal and ethical considerations regarding unpaid farm interns and apprentices
  • Evaluations of labor movement self-help strategies in the context of food sovereignty
  • Comparative case studies of unionization and collective bargaining (both successful and postmortem)
  • Impacts of immigration reform on worker safety, wages, working conditions, deportation, food security
  • Legal and public-policy aspects of employer/labor relations in the food system
  • Case studies of successful line-worker adaptation to using local raw ingredients
  • Commentaries or policy analyses on current and proposed labor regulations
  • Comparisons of the health status (including morbidity, mortality, and life expectancy) of food workers compared to the public at large
  • Environmental factors affecting the health of farmworkers and other food workers
  • Case studies of collaborations, solidarity actions, and successful movement-building between food workers, worker organizations, and other actors working to transform the food system
  • Effects of philanthropic interventions (positive and negative)

For more details about this call, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . In addition, JAFSCD welcomes articles at any time on any subject related to the development aspects of agriculture and food systems.


Download the flyer (see PDF here or below) and post or forward to colleagues!




Top: Worker at a raisin operation in Fresno, California, USA. Copyright © 2007 by Duncan Hilchey.

Bottom: Workers at a citrus orchard's packing plant in the Indian River region of Florida, USA. Copyright © 2007 by Duncan Hilchey.

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Banner photos include a Cape Cod cranberry bog; a cranberry “screen house” used to grade fresh cranberries; farmland near Lake Placid, NY, in the Adirondack Mountains; Montmorency cherry trees on the Mission Peninsula of northern Michigan; the historic Round Barn in the South Mountain Apple Belt of Adams County, Pennsylvania; the “Sea of Grapes” district of the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt, near Erie, Penn; a field of cabbages near Shortsville, NY, home to one of the world’s largest sauerkraut factories. All photos copyright by Duncan Hilchey.


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