Equitable Food Initiative

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Employer Summary

Labor-Management Collaboration Makes for Better Produce

Our food system produces affordable and abundant food. Nonetheless, food safety remains a major concern, and the workers who harvest our fresh fruit and vegetables face low wages and dangerous working conditions. EFI is tackling these problems simultaneously, by creating a set of standards and training processes to protect farm workers and to produce safer, healthier food. This approach creates additional value and quality throughout the food system, benefiting workers, growers, retailers and consumers alike.

Informed, motivated, and respected farm workers can play a key role in assisting farm owners and other partners in implementing and monitoring EFI standards. Much like quality improvement teams in an industrial setting, farm workers who understand and embrace food safety and environmental stewardship can help improve productivity, safety and quality. EFI engages workers and growers alike in a common commitment to reducing threats to working conditions, the environment and food safety.

EFI Labor standards cover worker health and safety, freedom of association, fair wages, benefits and conditions of employment, freedom from discrimination and retaliation, dispute settlement, employer-provided housing, a social premium, and protections for H2A Workers.

EFI Pesticide standards deal with the management of pests, soil, water and habitat. The standards promote an Integrated Pest Management approach to managing crops in order to minimize the use of highly hazardous pesticides. EFI requires full pesticide use reporting, including quantification of pesticide risks to workers and the environment.

EFI Food Safety standards address accountability and record-keeping, water use, soil amendments, environmental assessments, animal controls, and post-harvest packing, storage, testing and transportation.

Click Here to learn more about the EFI Standard.

The key to EFI’s approach is collaboration among workers, farmers and retailers. EFI helps farm workers and growers improve the quality of their produce. EFI has created the EFI Leadership Training Program to provide on-site training and facilitation for companies that commit to continuous improvement of production processes to meet or exceed the EFI Standard.

The EFI Leadership Training Program will assist with the formation of on-farm teams to improve communication and understanding between growers and farm workers, and to continually improve on-farm production processes to meet or exceed standards for EFI certification. A well-trained agricultural workforce provides quality control, mitigates risk, and enhances productivity.

This approach creates additional value and quality throughout the food system, benefiting workers, growers, retailers and consumers alike. When farm workers are trained to improve production processes, reduce risk in handling pesticides and monitor threats to food safety, everyone wins:

  • Workers develop valuable skills that increase their productivity and enhance their employment opportunities.
  • Growers get a more stable and motivated workforce that generates safer and better  produce
  • Retailers reduce the risks in their supply chain and meet customer demand for safer food
  • Consumers purchase better fruit and vegetables that are produced in an ethical way.