Kenton Harmer, Matt Rogers, and Andrea Rojas Discuss EFI's Online Responsible Recruitment Scorecard Relaunch
WASHINGTON, DC - Since the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) came on the fresh produce scene in 2008, the organization has been not only striving to make greater assurances for fair working conditions for farmworkers and increasing food safety, it has executed its vision. While the team behind EFI would tell you the work is never truly done, we honor what they have achieved to date, including the relaunch of its online Responsible Recruitment Scorecard.
“The desire for shippers to demonstrate how they are proactively keeping forced labor out of their company’s workforce is top of mind for all those advocating to make this industry a safer and healthier place to live and work,” Kenton Harmer, Managing Director for EFI, shares. “Risk at the recruitment level is great. We hope that the free Scorecard can be used as an internal audit to assess and understand their risk and take steps to mitigate the challenges and elevate the system across categories and growing regions.”
The new interactive EFI version of the scorecard offers a digital self-assessment to help growers identify their risk factors in the recruitment process and pursue recommended action steps. With labor in higher demand than ever before, bringing a greater level of transparency to the foreign labor hiring and recruitment process is essential. Check out some of the new features here.
“As use of the H-2A program continues to increase in the United States, it is critically important that participants formalize relationships and increase due diligence to avoid the well-documented social risks that come with international recruitment,” Matt Rogers, Co-Founder and General Manager, AgSocio, states.
On top of the scorecard’s goal of mitigating forced labor, responsible recruitment is also tied into food safety and product quality.
“Recruitment fees play a direct role in food safety and quality because, in order to reach high standards, you need your employees directly engaged in their work and to feel the freedom and confidence to draw attention and raise their hand about a potential issue. If they are focused on their own survival and have a lack of trust in the system, they aren’t able to give the farming operation their full, complete attention,” Kenton expresses.
As the EFI team tells me, if there is the fear among grower-shippers of the unknown—an “I don’t know what I don’t know” around this issue—the Scorecard gives a starting point and guidance on developing an action plan for improvement.
“Abuse and exploitation of agricultural workers can happen at multiple levels due to the complex labor supply chain of recruiters, managers, contractors, subcontractors, growers, and buyers. The EFI Responsible Recruitment Scorecard it’s a great tool for fresh produce growers to get better oversight into the people and systems in their labor supply chain and help ensure workers aren’t paying unlawful recruitment fees to unscrupulous recruiters,” Andrea Rojas, Director of Strategic Initiatives on Labor Trafficking for Polaris, reflects.
With so much at stake and businesses across fresh produce elevating their values and strategies, EFI is bringing a solution to the table for today, tomorrow, and the next generation.