Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida, in support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, has asked Pax Christi USA to help them gather signatures for this letter to be sent to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. In November, the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships lifted up the Fair Food Program as a powerful model for addressing human trafficking here in the U.S. As such, a variety of faith-based groups are using the opportunity to urge the USDA to embrace the model and purchase tomatoes for school lunches and market stabilization through the Fair Food Program. The opening of the letter is below with a link to the entire letter where you can also add your signature and send it in.
On this 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation we remember our nation’s courageous ancestors who denounced slavery, resisted its practices and devoted themselves to creating structures of commerce that upheld the human rights and dignity of all people. Advances that had been unimaginable became possible because of the creativity and perseverance of slaves, abolitionists and key government leaders. The work of freedom takes all of us; and it is ongoing.
Though enormous strides were made, the scourge of slavery has persisted, despite its illegality, in different forms, including in the agricultural fields of the United States today. Since 1997, Florida agriculture itself has seen nine prosecutions of cases of forced labor, involving over 1,200 people.
Modern-day slavery in Florida agriculture cannot be understood in a vacuum. It is not separate from the past, rather its roots extend deep into the state’s history of farmworker poverty and powerlessness…