July 7, 2010

Eight, and counting...

DOJ officials announce yet another prosecution for forced labor in Florida fields, eighth since 1997.

According to yesterday's Gainesville Sun: "... dozens of Haitian nationals were the victims of human trafficking... when they were delivered to rural Alachua County and forced to work on area farms."

This latest slavery prosecution underscores the urgent need for broad-based labor reforms in Florida agriculture. Stories of extreme exploitation are so tragically commonplace in Florida's fields that, rather than hear them as a call to action, we run the risk of growing inured to the abuse, each case of forced labor losing a measure of its ability to spark outrage and action.

We cannot let that happen. We must redouble our efforts to make this latest prosecution -- now the eighth since 1997 -- the last prosecution for forced labor in Florida agriculture.

And food industry leaders -- companies like Publix, Ahold, Quiznos, Sodexo, Kroger, and WalMart -- must also, finally, heed this call, recognize once and for all the overwhelming case for change, and commit to work with us to bring about a more modern, more humane agricultural industry in Florida.