Decent Work in Agriculture and the Global Food Chain: An International Framework
Date: December 8, 2016
Location: Portland, OR
Posted November 2016
Domestic Fair Trade Association Pre-conference Workshop
Space is limited – register early!
The structure of US agricultural labor relations changed dramatically over the past fifty years as rural communities shrank and suburban and urban populations grew. Where family labor once dominated small and mid-scale agricultural production, now hired labor is prominent in mid-scale operations producing food for wholesale markets, as has long been the case for large-scale operations. Larger small-scale farms are also increasing their hired labor. As a result, employing hired labor under “decent conditions of work” has become a limiting factor for mid-scale agriculture.
As markets expand for local and regional food, there is an opportunity to proactively address labor issues on mid-scale farms. A leading Wisconsin farmer says, “We are noticing that a barrier to scaling up local food production is labor—there simply isn’t enough money in food production to make it worthwhile to hire people at a decent wage or to pay ourselves.”
So, one of the challenges for values-based food supply chains is to determine what constitutes “decent work” on mid-size farms, and determine what is necessary to implement it.
To help farmers, domestic fair traders and other supporting mid-scale agriculture, this workshop on promoting decent work in agriculture aims to share international efforts. Peter Hurst, consultant to ILO and FAO on decent work in agriculture will:
- Present an international overview, especially with reference to smallholder farmers and medium-sized farms. He will give an overview of the workforce in agriculture – hired workers including migrant labour, self-employed farmers, women farmers and women waged workers, youth, child labor and how “decent work” applies to all these categories
- Outline the broader international framework of labour standards and conditions in agriculture which still has the world’s largest workforce, often working under poor and exploitative conditions (i.e. not under decent work conditions)
- Focus especially on the four pillars of “decent work” of the United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO) – a tripartite body made of up of governments, employers’ associations, and workers’ associations (labor/trade unions):
- Pillar 1: Standards and rights at work
- Pilar 2: Employment creation and business development
- Pillar 3: Social protection, including health care, education, etc.
- Pillar 4: Social dialogue and agency
- Show how the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is helping promote decent work in agriculture, including food security
- Refer to other international instrument and processes relevant to decent work in agriculture – the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food; UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights etc.
Refer to the role of certification and auditing in the global food chain in promoting decent work
Lead a discussion on ways workshop participants can apply decent work to their projects to improve the US food system
This workshop is part of a research project on domestic fair trade for agriculture of the middle, organized by the University of Wisconsin – Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, and funded by the United States Department of Agriculture Small Farms program.