Environmental Justice and Farm Labor: 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Environmental Justice and Farm Labor

1st Edition

By Rebecca E. Berkey


200 pages | 9 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780367227791
pub: 2019-02-04
Hardback: 9781138183155
pub: 2017-02-27
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pub: 2017-02-17
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Utilizing a model derived from literature on environmental justice overlaid with multiple scales of agriculture, Environmental Justice and Farm Labor provides key insights about laborers in agriculture in the United States. It addresses three main topics: (1) justice-related issues facing farmers and laborers on farms; (2) how history and policy have impacted them; and (3) the opportunities and leverage points for change in improving justice outcomes.

It explores who labors in US agriculture and the justice-related issues facing these workers, including occupational injury and illness, lack of access to healthcare, substandard housing, hunger, low wages, issues pertaining to immigration, and the inability to organize. In addition, it assesses the impacts of labor safety, immigration and international policy, and in particular the effects of organic and fair trade certification. Two detailed case studies, one based on conventional agriculture in Florida and the other on organic agriculture in the Northeast, highlight the interrelated but unique challenges facing those who labor in the different sectors of this complex agricultural system.

Finally, it touches on justice claims and the role of grassroots activism in improving justice outcomes by highlighting organizations operating at multiple scales to contribute to the livelihood of farmers and laborers in the different areas of agriculture.


"In this book, Rebecca Berkey has made an important contribution to the growing literature on farm labor movements in the United States. She analyzes the historical and current day injustices experienced by farmworkers, aptly arguing that farm labor is an issue of environmental as well as social justice. It is a book that will resonate with all scholars, students, activists, and consumers who want to make big changes to the food system." - Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern, Assistant Professor, Food Studies, Syracuse University, NY, USA

"Environmental Justice and Farm Labor examines environmental justice issues facing farmworkers in the United States. A growing scholarship has critically documented the injustices facing the low-wage, immigrant workers who do the bulk of the work in U.S. agriculture, and this book introduces the reader to these findings in an accessible way. The conclusion’s catalogue of organizations working for farmworker justice will be a valuable resource for readers wanting to get politically active beyond their food purchases and support organizations already doing this important work." - Jill Lindsey Harrison, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Colorado-Boulder, USA

"Berkey opens new lines of inquiry for two scholarly fields that don’t usually overlap so comprehensively. She persuasively shows how farmworkers are frontline casualties of not only labor exploitation, but also environmental injustice." - Margaret Gray, Associate Professor, Political Science, Adelphi University, USA

Table of Contents

Introduction: Environmental Justice and Farm Labor

Labor Across the Continuum

Book Structure

A Word to Readers

1. Environmental Justice and Framing Labor in Agriculture as a Justice Issue

A Brief History of Environmental Justice

Philosophical and Theoretical Foundations of Environmental Justice

The Environmental Justice Summit: Defining a Movement

Key Considerations of Environmental Justice

Drawing from Coalition Building and Asset-Based Community Development

Dimensions of Environmental Justice

Labor in Agriculture as an Environmental Justice Issue

2. Justice Issues Facing Laborers in Agriculture

Process Claims: The Social Dimension of Farm Labor

Evidence Claims: The Environmental and Structural Dimensions of Farm Labor


3. A Brief History of and Impact of Policy on Laborers in US Agriculture

Process Claims: The Social Dimension of Farm Labor

Policies Impacting Immigrants in US. Agriculture

The Role of Policy in Organic Agriculture: Definitions of Organic, Certification, and Impact on Practice

Concluding Thoughts

4. Case Study in Conventional Agriculture: The Farmworker Association of Florida

Introduction to the Farmworker Association of Florida

The Farmworker Association of Florida: An Exemplar of Justice for Farmworkers in Large-Scale Conventional Agriculture

5. Case Study in Organic Agriculture: The Northeast Organic Farming Association

Introduction to the Northeast Organic Farming Association

Situating the Work in the Continuum of Farm Labor and Environmental Justice Claims

Process Claims (Social Dimensions)

Evidence Claims (Environmental/Structural Dimensions)

Justice Claims (Recognition, Capabilities, and Participation)

6. The Current Landscape of Change: Fighting for Justice for Agricultural Labor

Justice Claims: How Should Things Be?

7. Conclusion: What Will It Take to Change the Story?

About the Author

Rebecca E. Berkey is Director of Service-Learning, Northeastern University, Boston, USA, and Associate Director, Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative, USA.

About the Series

Earthscan Food and Agriculture

Earthscan Food and Agriculture
This series includes a wide range of inter-disciplinary approaches to food and agriculture, integrating perspectives from both social and natural sciences. It includes textbooks, research monographs and titles aimed at professionals, NGOs and policy-makers. Authors or editors of potential new titles should contact Hannah Ferguson, Editor ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Rural