Suggestions to Agricultural Justice Project standards

January 20, 2016

Agricultural Justice Project
214 West University Avenue Ste D
Gainesville, FL 32601

To the AJP:

The scope and depth of the Agricultural Justice Project standards are impressive. They are thoughtful and appear to cover every possible point of concern for labor in the supply chain.

As PCC Natural Markets seeks ways to make farm workers more visible to consumers, and a valued part of food production, we are pleased for the opportunity to comment during the standards revision process.

There are some sections in the standards that discourage engagement by retailers of some size with multiple stores, such as PCC Natural Markets. We address those sections on the attached. We also have a couple suggestions for the Proposed Changes in the Master List of Changes in the AJP Board Draft.

In the Master List of Changes to the AJP Board Draft:

  • Under General, 3. “Adjusting the AJP scope to be more inclusive of additional sustainability claims, such as animal welfare:” There already are numerous animal welfare certifications and another is not needed. We recommend that AJP remain focused on social justice concerns, unless or until such time that existing certifications prove insufficient. We think that the range of certifications, from Animal Welfare Approved to Certified Humane are sufficient, not to mention USDA Organic Standards, are sufficient for the market demand.
  • Under General, 5. “Requested input: Standards for coops?”
    We cannot think of additional standards relevant or needed by co-ops that are not covered. PCC Natural Markets, however, is a union employer, where store employees (excepting management) are covered by a union agreement and labor rights are spelled out to address the elements in Part 4.
  • Under Section 3, “Farmer Responsibilities to Workers,” 29. “Labor Committee for advising farmers on short-term needs:” It is our understanding that all farmers already rely on word of mouth for meeting labor needs, so don’t see the need for this but would defer to our wholesaler, Organically Grown Co.
  • Under Section 3, “Farmer Responsibilities to Workers,” 30. “Addressing full-time employment opportunities for part-time staff:” PCC Natural Markets agrees and supports that employers should not hire multiple part-time employees as a means to avoid hiring full-time.
  • Under Section 4, “Food Business Responsibilities to Employees,” 42. “Revisions to clarify living wage language in general, and for part-time workers:” While we understand the intent to help families with more mouths to feed, we cannot support a provision where wages are adjusted for family size. We agree with the concerns noted, that it can create problems with discrimination against workers with big families because they’re more expensive to employ, and we agree it can create situations where employees are paid differently for the same work.

For comments on the body of the standards, see attached.

Respectfully,

Trudy Bialic
Director, Public Affairs

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