Florida’s Farm Workers
Less than two percent of the American workforce is engaged in farm work. Nevertheless, more than 550,000 farmers create three million agricultural jobs each year – and one million are hired farm workers. Today, Florida has one of the largest agricultural workforces in the country led by over 100,000 hard-working farm workers. These workers are important to our state’s growth and economic success and continue to leave their mark in our state, not just with their strong economic contributions, but with their rich and fruitful culture and community participation.
Farm laborers reside in rural and remote locales and are among the most hidden workers despite the fact they typically work in open fields. Not surprisingly, population estimates are inexact and wide-ranging. In one count the University of Florida estimates 105,759 men and women work in nurseries and crop agriculture statewide over the course of the year. Two-thirds are seasonal workers and one-third migrates. This 2013 report finds 91,423 households support 184,322 household members through agricultural jobs. Twelve counties are home to more than 8 of 10 Florida crop workers: Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Manatee, Hendry, Collier, Orange, Indian River, Lee, Polk, Highlands and Valusia.
Earning marginal income themselves, farm hands are the engine that drives Florida’s row crop, citrus, nursery, cattle and dairy sectors generating billions of dollars in revenue and employment for others in food processing, sales and marketing. Farm worker families living and working in one community tend to have the highest income levels among agricultural employees: 4% earn less than $10,000 per year, 50% earn between $10,000 and $25,000, and 45% earn more than $25,000 per year. In contrast, unaccompanied migrant workers fall into the lowest income group: 54% earn less than $10,000 per year.
Investigate more about those who toil in Florida’s fields and discover additional resources.
In “Common as Dirt” read about crewleaders and their exploitation of field workers through wage left and other shady dealings.
Learn how new innovative advocacy efforts like the Campaign for Fair Food is augmenting Florida workers’ wages.
Read the University of Florida Shimberg Center’s most recent in-depth analysis “The Need for Farmworker Housing”.