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Annual Breakfast Celebrates Contributions of Farm Workers

-Editorial

The Annual Farm Workers breakfast on the morning of Dec. 1 honors the men and women who work in the fields daily.

As usual, there was a big line of volunteers to serve nearly 2,000 farm workers that made line early morning to get their meal before going to work.

The farm workers’ breakfast started in 1970 where they served coffee and donuts during the first few years and since then has grown to a big event that includes various agencies throughout Imperial County. One of the pillars of this event and responsible for its success was Loli Torres and the late Isabel Wong who worked every single breakfast until her death.

“I have been here every year to thank the farm workers because thanks to them we get what is produced in the fields. That’s why I am here volunteering to serve delicious breakfasts, even if it’s once a year we do it with lots of love,” Wong said in 2014 in an interview.

Torres continued to attend this event and was present in the 2023 edition always supporting the farm workers like she always does.

“This annual Imperial County tradition allows us to express our gratitude for hard-working farmworkers whose labor keeps food on our tables and supports our local agricultural economy. Today, was dedicated to serving and honoring our farmworkers for all they contribute,” Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia said.

According to USDA, hired farmworkers make up less than 1 percent of all U.S. wage and salary workers, but they play an essential role in U.S. agriculture. According to data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture, wages and salaries plus contract labor costs represented just 12 percent of production expenses for all farms, but 43 percent for greenhouse and nursery operations and 39 percent for fruit and tree nut operations.

Hired farmworkers are found in a variety of occupations, including field crop workers, nursery workers, livestock workers, graders and sorters, agricultural inspectors, supervisors, and hired farm managers. The majority are wage and salary workers, hired directly by farmers, but some are employees of agricultural service companies, including farm labor contractors, custom harvest providers, and management service providers. Many industrywide employment estimates also include support personnel on farms, such as human resource managers, sales agents, and truck drivers.

The coronavirus pandemic exacerbated a lot of problems in Imperial County being that it is one of the poorest countries in California and is considered a disadvantaged community due to the high levels of poverty. Interestingly enough, the agricultural industry is the second largest employer in Imperial County, behind only the government sector. The county generates a high value of agricultural revenue from cattle ranching. There are a handful of crops that routinely generate more than $100 million in activity each year, including all types of lettuce, alfalfa, and broccoli.

The event was hosted this year by the Employment Development Department, Center for Employment Training, Farm Worker Services Coalition of Imperial County, the city of Calexico, and many others.

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