Pondering Farmworker Justice: The Visible and Invisible Borders of Social Change


  • Anna Erwin Virginia Tech




Immigration, Alternative Agriculture, Farmworker Justice, Critical Agrarian Studies, Social Change


Farmworkers play an integral part in both industrial and alternative agriculture, and in recent years the alternative agriculture and farmworker justice movements have been collaborating in more fruitful ways. These collaborations are applauded and are definite steps in the right direction; however, unlike many members of the alternate agriculture community, many farmworkers are discriminated against for their race, class, and citizenship status. These realities endure in that 25% to 50% of farmworkers are estimated to be undocumented individuals, new destinations for new farmworkers are often in states with tight immigration policies, and much of our immigration debate is based on a rhetoric of individual choice. As these types of partnerships become more common, power relations must be addressed and shifted if we wish to see more equal participation from both parties. This commentary outlines a framework for change at all levels of governance, and specifically expresses five ways in which the alternative agriculture movement can begin to shift power associated with race, class, and citizenship, and therefore create and maintain stronger partnerships with the farmworker community. These shifts will not happen overnight and will only occur if we work collaboratively to insist on a more transparent global capitalist system, advocate for immigration laws that are not based on fear, implement local food programs that include farmworker participation and input, and create new organizational policies that encourage individual voice and agency.

See the press release for this article. 


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biography

Anna Erwin, Virginia Tech

PhD student, Planning, Governance, and Globalization program, Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs; 140 Otey Street NW; Blacksburg, Virginia 24060 USA; +1-910-620-6026.



How to Cite

Erwin, A. (2016). Pondering Farmworker Justice: The Visible and Invisible Borders of Social Change. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 6(2), 29–33. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2016.062.007