In the heart of the Deep South, where row upon row of thick blueberry bushes or blade-edged cornstalks stretch out for miles, you may find it easy to accept the notion that here, things never change. Surprisingly, the truth is exactly the opposite: wide-reaching changes to agricultural practices in farming regions have a tendency to take root just as quickly as watermelon seeds. Despite what the comforting and familiar scene of fields full of healthy crops might make you think, farms no longer operate the way they did sixty, thirty, or even five years ago; it’s no surprise, then, that the labor force of modern farms doesn’t look anything like it used to, either.
With willing and able farm labor from U.S. labor forces in short-to-non-existent supply today, farmers have become largely reliant on H2A labor. “H2A” is a classification of workers set by the United States Department of Labor (DOL) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). H2A laborers are nonimmigrant, temporary or seasonal workers who obtain permission from the government to reside in the United States for limited lengths of time each year in order to do the jobs that American citizens cannot or will not perform. Both the DOL and USCIS strictly enforce stringent rules and guidelines regarding H2A labor, including making sure that no U.S. citizens are available to do the work necessary in keeping crops harvested and pantries full. The government agencies maintain their strict rules and regulations in order to ensure that all H2A laborers are paid fair wages and subject to fair and reasonable working hours and conditions, which means that consumers can rest assured that their fruits and vegetables come from a good place, all the way from farm to table.
Just as important as knowing where your food comes from is knowing who it comes from. At Worthy Flavors, our farms rely on the hard work and many dedicated hours of both domestic and H2A labor, to ensure that you get the quality of freshness you deserve as well as the peace of mind you desire by maintaining fair and ethical treatment of all our employees. We continuously strive to go above and beyond the standards mandated by the DOL and USCIS in our treatment of all the hands that go to work getting our produce to you as quickly as possible. Our passions for sustainability and highest quality apply not only to the way we treat produce, but the way we treat people.
We recently invested over one million dollars in new housing for our H2A employees, and we pay all H2A workers the exact same wages earned by our domestic workers. We didn’t commit to these practices because they meet the minimum requirements on some list from a government agency’s website, either; no, we committed to these practices because the central focus of our farms is still, as it has always been, what’s best for people. We understand that it’s not simply what we grow, but how we grow and who grows from us that must remain paramount in our daily operations. H2A laborers come from many different places, but they typically share the same goal when moving to the U.S. to perform seasonal and temporary work: bettering their quality of life and the quality of life of their families back home. We at Worthy Flavors don’t take our role in our employees’ lives lightly; we want to see all of our employees succeed, and we work to responsibly and ethically ensure that they reach their goals.
As a consumer of Worthy Flavors produce, you can rest assured that everyone who picked your peppers or bunched your basil has done so while taking the utmost care in what’s best for you…and that we have taken the utmost care in what’s best for them, too.