EcoFarm has heard from folks questioning the legitamacy of Driscoll's sponsorship of the EcoFarm Conference. We hope this addresses some of the questions people may have about Driscoll's sponsorship of the EcoFarm Conference.
Driscoll’s has been a major financial supporter of the EcoFarm Conference for many years, helping to make the important annual gathering a reality. Neither Driscoll’s nor any other corporate sponsor sways or manipulates the agenda of the EcoFarm Conference. EcoFarm has never allowed a sponsor to adversely affect the agenda. In fact, EcoFarm has lost numerous sponsors over the years due to its insistence on a completely open and democratic process that encourages as wide of a range of voices as possible. The workshop planning is often slow but affords the democratic process to work.
In keeping with its ongoing role as a conference organizer in addition to our goal to fulfill our conference theme Cultivating Diversity, EcoFarm agrees that it is not just important, but it is vital to hear from the myriad different voices in the agricultural community. From social justice activists, to large companies like Driscoll's that also play a major role in our food system. It is at EcoFarm where people from a broad spectrum of perspectives come together, discuss, exchange ideas, and impact one another’s decisions. Once that stops, the conference will be an event where attendees are merely preaching to the choir.
EcoFarm will have a number of farm worker and social justice advocates who will not only be attending, but also speaking and featured prominently in the 2017 EcoFarm Conference, including Rosalinda Guillen, an outspoken leader of the Driscoll’s boycott.
EcoFarm commends the efforts of those who organized for the rights of farmworkers and their families affected by Driscoll’s. And we commend Driscoll’s for responding to the call and renewing their required role in shaping the well being of all who labor in order for their berries to be made available on supermarket shelves. It clearly has made a difference.
The Washington farm workers union Families Unidas for la Justicia, has ended the strike against Driscoll's. The union and Sakura have been in agreement negotiations as of November 14, 2016. The Baja Strike ended in June of 2015. The Mexican Government, the entire agriculture industry and farm workers have negotiated wages.
One of our founders shares this historical perspective:
“Driscoll’s is one of the only in the US ag industry, to have significantly empowered Latinos. It is a company that has grown literally from the ground up with the vast majority of its contracted certified organic growers operating small to medium sized farms. Many of the Driscolls farmers started out as farm workers, including undocumented farm workers, and were financially supported, educated, promoted, and enabled by Driscoll’s company owners to become farm managers, and eventually full owners of their farms. Driscoll’s pioneered these Hispanic empowerment efforts in the strawberry industry, and set such a successful and high standard that now many other strawberry shippers have instituted similar programs to support farmworkers in becoming farm owners.” - Amigo Bob Cantisano