The History and Evolution of Forced Labor in Florida Agriculture

Sean Sellers and Greg Asbed (2011): The History and Evolution of Forced Labor in Florida Agriculture, in: Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts, Vol. 5, No. 1, Food Justice (Autumn 2011), pp. 29-49.


Since 1997, federal officials have successfully prosecuted seven farm-labor servitude operations in Florida involving well over one thousand workers. Modern-day slavery in Florida agriculture cannot be understood in a vacuum. It is not separate from the past; rather, its roots extend deep in the state’s history. While the phenomenon of forced labor has taken many forms over the past four centuries in Florida agriculture, the industry has never been entirely free of the scourge of slavery. Though the extent of slavery in Florida agriculture has diminished over the centuries, one thing has remained constant: farm workers have always been, and remain today, the state’s poorest, least powerful workers. If we are to abolish slavery once and for all in Florida agriculture, we must pull it up from the roots by addressing farm-worker poverty and powerlessness.

More on Human Trafficking and Forced Labour on the Website of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.


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