Food Security and Farm Labor in California: A Case Study of Santa Barbara County

Food Security and Farm Labor in California: A Case Study of Santa Barbara County

Monday, May 24 / 3:00 PM
McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB

Mexican Immigrant Farmers and Collaborate Networks in Santa Barbara County
Teresa Figueroa (Chicano/a Studies, UCSB)

Organizing MILPA’s (Mexican Immigrant Labor and Producers’ Association) Association in Santa Maria
Global studies and chicano/a studies undergraduates Erika Herrera, Julio Vera, Jocelyn Gutierrez, Zenaida Perez, and Brenda Navarro

Mexican immigrant families have been producing agricultural commodities in northern Santa Barbara County for almost three decades. Since the early 1980s, they have been farming multiple commodities by borrowing capital and leasing small plots from corporations. Mexican families then create sophisticated infrastructures to produce staple and luxury commodities. Mexican immigrant families turn their commodities to “culers” or shipping and distribution companies that market local commodities at global markets. The resulting poor rate of return bankrupts family farmers who, in turn, cannot pay their laborers or their loans. In the absence of regulated markets and public policy, Mexican immigrant families experience the social, economic, and legal consequences of farming luxury and staple commodities at great risk.

We have developed an applied research project to address the most pressing needs of the Latino immigrant farmers in Santa Maria by organizing an association of Mexican immigrant family farmers and small farmers and linking them with fair trade networks. We have been developing collaborative relationships with social justice organizations and educational institutions to address the social consequences of producing food in a globalized world. This project will present the opportunities and challenges encountered while addressing the multiple needs of disenfranchised farmers.

Sponsored by IHC’s Food Studies RFG, Departments of Chicano/a Studies, Anthropology, Global Studies, Sociology, and History.