NR No. 23-46
Contact: Loree Levy/Aubrey Henry
CALEXICO – Employment Development Department (EDD) staff and local volunteers served approximately 2,500 Imperial County agricultural workers a pre-dawn breakfast today of tamales, beans, salsa, sweet bread, and coffee in recognition of their essential role in feeding the people of California, the nation, and beyond. For 44 years now, the EDD and local partners have hosted the annual Farm Workers Appreciation Breakfast in Calexico, California, as a way of thanking agricultural workers for their hard work, and the invaluable contributions they make to the state’s economy.
“California’s farmworkers make unquestionable sacrifices to ensure that we have fresh food on our table,” said EDD Director Nancy Farias. “EDD and its partners are honored to host this event in expression of California’s support and tremendous appreciation for its agricultural workers.”
This year’s event was held in Calexico’s America’s Job Center of California and conducted by the EDD’s Imperial County regional staff along with volunteers from sponsors including the Center for Employment Training, the City of Calexico, the Mexican Consulate in Calexico, and the Farm Worker Services Coalition of Imperial County. The event was also supported by the local agriculture industry, farmers, and contractors as well as by local businesses, agencies, and community-based organizations.
Imperial County’s Agricultural Workforce
Calexico is located within Imperial County, which has a significantly higher percentage of agricultural workers in comparison to most areas of California. As of October 2023, agriculture industry jobs made up 14.5 percent of all jobs in the El Centro Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Calexico. In comparison, only 2.3 percent of the total jobs within California were part of the agriculture industry as of October 2023.
The EDD estimates there were approximately 19,571 migrant and seasonal farm workers employed in Imperial County over the year from 2022-23 compared to 813,450 employed statewide during the same timeframe. The top farm and agricultural commodities produced in Imperial County include* cattle, alfalfa, head lettuce, leaf lettuce, broccoli, spinach, onions, and carrots. Imperial County accounted for over $2.6 billion in agriculture industry production in 2022.
Migrant and Seasonal Farm Worker Program
The EDD works in cooperation with many California agencies and community-based organizations to directly serve the state’s agricultural workers through the Department’s Migrant and Seasonal Farm Worker (MSFW) Outreach Program. Over the last year, staff have provided assistance to some 7,500 agriculture industry workers. The EDD deploys multilingual outreach staff directly to areas where farmworkers work, live, and gather to make sure that they receive information about job opportunities, their labor rights, and the many helpful services and resources the EDD offers California agricultural workers including:
- Multilingual assistance.
- General information about unemployment, disability, and paid family leave.
- Referrals to supportive services such as low-cost medical services, housing, utility assistance, food banks, and legal services.
- Assistance with job searches, résumé writing, and job referrals.
- Information about farmworker labor rights and filing complaints.
- Assistance with placement into agricultural and non-agricultural jobs.
Monitor Advocate Office
The EDD’s Monitor Advocate Office (MAO) serves as liaison between agricultural workers and the Department while verifying that employers are complying with federal and state regulations and policies relative to services for migrant and seasonal farmworkers, confirming that equitable employment services are offered to all job seekers. The MAO staff also maintain and provide training for an employment-related complaint system, which allows California agricultural workers to file a complaint for issues such as a lack of available shade from heat, problems concerning worker lunches or breaks, difficulties receiving due wages, and health and safety issues.
The MAO will elevate any unresolved issues to appropriate enforcement agencies. Program staff also assist agricultural communities in establishing Local Farm Worker Forums to coordinate services provided by community-based organizations and advocate on behalf of farmworkers.
Resources for Workers
For more information on these EDD services, visit the department’s Migrant and Seasonal Farm Worker webpage which also features external resource links for both workers and employers in the agriculture industry. Information about translation services is also available on the website’s Language Resources section or customers may contact an EDD representative to speak to someone in their preferred language. The EDD has bilingual staff available to assist customers, and the Department works with vendors to provide translation and interpreter services for more than 100 languages at no cost.