Equitable Food Initiative Offers Free Responsible Recruitment Scorecard for the Produce Industry
WASHINGTON - As the labor shortage in the produce industry increases, growers and shippers are looking to recruiters, labor contractors, and H-2A guest workers for assistance. Due to these developments, Equitable Food Initiative has put together a free resource to help the fresh produce industry take into account how to best come to fair terms with workers. In doing so, EFI hopes to reduce labor recruitment blind spots that could put growers at risk.
So, how is EFI helping growers and shippers avoid these common hurdles and situations when recruiting workers? The company has created a Responsible Recruitment Scorecard, two detailed questionnaires that will provide a rating indicator along with key areas growers can address to drive continuous improvement across their recruitment processes. One questionnaire is designed to help identify risks that are often associated with the foreign recruitment of workers, and the second is used to determine risks that can be present when working with farm labor contractors.
“These scorecards allow growers to have visibility into what are often invisible risks they take on by using third-party labor providers,” stated Kenton Harmer, Director of Certification and Impact. “As a self-assessment tool, growers use the results internally to determine which recruiters and farm labor contractors are most aligned with the ethos of their business and to build partnerships that further reduce their vulnerabilities around forced labor.”
According to the press release, the number of workers admitted to the United States via the H-2A program rose to nearly 243,000 in 2018, a whopping 46 percent increase since 2016. Because labor recruiters play an important role in identifying a potential workforce for many grower operations, workers are vulnerable to exploitation from corrupt recruiters who are involved in labor trafficking and charge illegal recruitment fees. The produce industry’s 2018 release of the Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices created an increased demand for social responsibility, calling for every farmworker to be treated with dignity and respect, and stated that employers must not tolerate modern slavery.
“Responsible recruitment is the right thing to do, and we’ve found that it can also drive business performance,” said Harmer. “Not only does it reduce the legal and commercial risks for the grower, but it can also create an environment for meaningful worker collaboration which results in better quality products and increased company efficiencies.”
The resource is provided at no cost at www.equitablefood.org/scorecard in both English and Spanish. For more improvements and updates in the produce world, keep with us at ANUK.