As conscious shopping and farm-to-table dining are becoming more popular, consumers who follow these trends are often more likely to focus on overall product quality, prioritizing organic ingredients. Ethical considerations are harder to connect particularly when it comes to selecting fresh produce. This may be because farmwork is stereotypically viewed as one of the oldest and most respected industries in our country.
What many people don’t know is agriculture is the second most prevalent sector of labor trafficking in the United States. Additional figures show that Florida has the third highest number of cases with the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Impoverished, rural communities that have large numbers of undocumented workers are especially at-risk for human trafficking of all kinds.
While new coalitions and programs are committed to stopping human trafficking in the greater Tampa Bay Area, it is important to remember that this is a long and arduous process. We can’t make human trafficking disappear overnight. However, consumers can do their part to fight human trafficking by making more conscientious buying decisions.
In a general sense, individuals can aid the movement by educating themselves on the warning signs of someone who is a victim of human trafficking and learning what resources can assist them. On a day-to-day basis, people can do research on the companies they are buying from — particularly those that sell fresh food or clothing, as these are heavily impacted by agricultural labor trafficking. You can use the Responsible Sourcing Tool and the Department of Labor’s List of Goods as a starting point.
Consumers can also advocate that companies publish information such as supplier and factory lists so that they can support businesses with good practices. Just as label transparency is becoming more of a fixture in the food and beverage industry, publicly available supplier information should also become more commonplace.
Large businesses can proactively monitor their own supply chains by creating social compliance and management systems that detect and prevent the presence of human trafficking. Employers of any size can also join the fight against trafficking by offering training and job opportunities to trafficking survivors.
Attorneys and law firms can also offer services to those impacted by human trafficking who may be in need of assistance with immigration, benefits, and other complex issues. Resources such as the Human Trafficking Legal Center can assist law firms in serving victims of trafficking.
Agricultural labor trafficking is an important issue that impacts many areas of our lives. Making well-informed decisions as a consumer is a key to preventing the spread of human trafficking, which is a societal issue that impacts many individuals, families, and industries. Survivors of human trafficking are encouraged to contact Gulfcoast Legal Services to see if they are eligible for comprehensive legal services.
This blog was produced by Gulfcoast Legal Services, Inc. under Project Number 2018-VT-BX-0005, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed here are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.