|On July 26, 2016 the Board of Supervisors directed that an Agricultural Labor Ad Hoc Board Subcommittee be formed to gain a better understanding of the needs of farmworkers in Yolo County. Supervisors Saylor and VIllegas were subsequently appointed to the Subcommittee. What follows is a summary of the key findings from the report and recommended strategies for County assistance.
It is acknowledged that some of the issues facing farmworkers reach beyond the grasp of the County or local stakeholders to solve. However, these are included in the report in order to acknowledge the larger issues faced by farmworkers and to identify any remedies or assistance that may be within local power to provide. It is the intention of the County that this report be a working document that will continue to develop and be implemented by stakeholders and organizations throughout the community with available resources.
Through the Agricultural Labor Ad Hoc Board Subcommittee, an outreach of stakeholders was conducted during the Spring/Summer of 2017 to determine the needs of farmworkers and potential strategies to address those needs at the local level. Information was gathered through interviews with representatives from seventeen organizations as well as farmworkers in various locations of Yolo County. The organizations consulted specialized in the fields of medical care, education, housing, legal services, and other assistance services.
Those interviewed were asked questions pertaining to seven major categories: Medical Access, Housing, Food Security, Transportation, Education, Labor Force, and Additional Concerns. Famworkers were also interviewed directly, either individually or in groups in various locations in Yolo County. The information gathered was formed into an Agricultural Labor Report (Attachment A) that details the issues facing farmworkers and the strategies to assist, as identified by those interviewed.
In addition to interviews, data was explored to give wider context to the issues. However, this information is limited due to a lack of available quantitative data for farmworkers at the state and local level. For this reason, data from the 2013-2014 Sonoma County Farmworker Health Survey is included as the best inference of potential conditions of farmworkers in Yolo County. While the agricultural commodities and environment of Sonoma County differ substantially from that of Yolo County, the make-up of the farmworkers in both counties are likely to be similar when it comes to ethnicity, age, family status, access to health care, affordability of housing, etc.
The individuals interviewed identified fifteen key issues facing farmworkers.
||-Barriers that prevent access to available services
-Need for preventative care
||-Lack of affordable housing
-Substandard conditions of some private rentals
||-Low enrollment in public assistance programs
-Difficulty in accessing affordable food
||-Limited access to transportation
-Lack of knowledge regarding transit services
||-Lack of affordable childcare and afterschool programming
-Barriers to educational attainment for adults
-Difficulties in school transitions for parents that migrate with their children
||-Labor shortage and a need for skilled labor
-Vulnerability of farmworkers to exploitation
-Low income common among farmworkers
||-Fear of deportation
Various strategies were recommended by interviewees to assist in addressing the identified issues. While some of the strategies reach beyond the grasp of the County or local stakeholders to solve, some are County actionable and a few are already being implemented at the County level (See Attachment B: Potential County Actionable Strategies).
Ultimately, staff recommend that the Board direct the identified County departments to implement the following strategies:
- Direct the County Administrator's Office to implement a farmworker outreach coordinator program at a non-profit organization. The Rural Community Investment Fund requests for the FY17-18 adopted budget include a proposal to fund a full time farmworker outreach coordinator position at a non-profit organization for up to two years as a pilot program. This position would establish and facilitate a collaborative of stakeholders that work directly with farmworkers and would work with those stakeholders to directly outreach to farmworkers to assist them in accessing services. It is envisioned that the newly established collaborative would evaluate the additional strategies in the Agricultural Labor Report and assist in its implementation. The outreach coordinator position would also assist in restarting the Viva La Vida farmworker conferences (2 times a year) formerly established by Rise, Inc. and, for that reason, Rise, Inc would be the non-profit organization the County partners with for the position. The proposal is for the County to provide funding to pilot the outreach coordinator position for up to two years. In the meantime, Rise, Inc. will seek grant funding opportunities for long term continuity of the position.
- Direct the Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) to work with stakeholders to provide greater outreach regarding the County Medical Services Plan (CMSP). CMSP provides limited-term health coverage for uninsured low-income, indigent adults that are not otherwise eligible for other publicly funded health programs. It is also offered in a limited scope to undocumented immigrants, offering basic primary care benefits. Ultimately, this form of health insurance appears underutilized by farmworkers and their families and many providers seemed to be unaware of its recent applicability for undocumented individuals. Outreach regarding this resource among local health providers, non-profits, and through the County Health and Human Services Agency is therefore a low cost strategy to addressing the health insurance need. This outreach may be performed in conjunction with the recommended farmworker outreach coordinator program.
- Direct Community Services to explore alterations to the County’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance and return to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation. The County ordinance requires new developments to contain a certain percentage of affordable housing. Enforcing this ordinance through requiring affordable housing units onsite or a higher in lieu fee may be an efficient means of increasing the production of affordable housing for farmworkers as well as other low income individuals.
- Direct Community Services to explore the provision of subsidies for County building permits and other fees for farmworker housing projects and return to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation. Currently the Yolo County zoning code already streamlines the planning process for farmworker housing, consistent with state law. However, the County could assist in providing building permit fees or other fees (such as environmental health fees) through the General Fund for such projects.
- Consider including in the Board of Supervisors Legislative Platform:
- Advocacy for federal (USDA and HUD) and state funding for farmworker housing; particularly for single adults; and
- Advocacy for immigration reform
- Direct HHSA to explore the establishment of a low cost career training program and return to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation. Interest was expressed in having classes that allowed farmworkers the opportunity for career advancement, either within the agricultural industry or into another career. This was expressed particularly for workers who, due to an injury or health condition, are no longer able to work in the agricultural industry. Additionally, as the agricultural industry moves toward mechanization, classes that focus on skill development in agricultural technology such as GIS or technician work would be desirable. This could be formed through partnering with employers and community colleges to provide training paid for through ETPL-WIOA and using CalWorks for placement. To ensure utilization the program would need to fit the schedules of most farmworkers and be offered in Spanish. The development of such a program is currently under consideration by HHSA through the agricultural workforce development work group under the Strategic Plan: Flourishing Agriculture goal.
|Agricultural Labor Ad Hoc Board Subcommittee
Individuals interviewed for this report included representatives from:
California Human Development; Yolo County Health & Human Services Agency; Empower Yolo; Yolo County Farm Bureau; RISE, Incorporated; Center for Land Based Learning; CA Institute for Rural Studies/UCD; La Cooperativa Campesino de California; Health Access; Yolo County Office of Education; Mutual Housing; Yolo County Housing Authority; Western Center on Law & Poverty; Legal Services of Northern CA; UC Davis Center for Regional Change; UC Davis Chicano/Chicana Studies; Sacramento Area Council of Governments; and farmworkers (in Woodland, Madison & Davis Migrant Center, West Sacramento, Clarksburg, and Knights Landing).