A new report on sex and labor trafficking in the United States places agriculture labor in the top 25 industries for human trafficking. The Typology of Modern Slavery report announced Wednesday breaks down instances of sex and labor trafficking into 25 distinct categories. The report ranked agriculture 11th in known instances of human trafficking. Specifically, the report classifies agriculture labor as “Agriculture and Animal Husbandry.” Restaurant and Food Service took the ninth spot on the list, which included a top ten dotted with several categories of sex trafficking. Construction ranked 14th, while manufacturing was listed as 20th, and forestry and logging took the 23rd spot. The report was commissioned by Polaris, a self-described leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery. The report relies on data gathered from Polaris-operated hotlines between December 2007 and December 2016. During that time, Polaris received reports of 32,200 cases of potential human trafficking and 10,000 potential cases of labor exploitation.
From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting news service.
Agriculture & Animal Husbandry
Traffickers exploit workers in the agriculture and animal husbandry industry, from corn fields to orange orchards to dairy farms. Some crops such as tobacco—the crop cited most often on Polaris-operated hotlines—require much more intensive labor to harvest, making them more susceptible to forced labor or exploitation. Others frequently mentioned are cattle/dairy, oranges, tomatoes, and strawberries.
Often an agricultural contract will promise an hourly rate but then pay on a piece-rate basis, which severely limits earning potential and further entraps the victims. Abuse and exploitation of agricultural workers can happen at multiple levels due to the complex labor supply chain of recruiters, managers, contractors, subcontractors, growers, and buyers.
Victims of labor trafficking in landscaping are responsible for maintaining public or private grounds, gardens, and nurseries. Landscaping is the most commonly referenced type of labor trafficking and exploitation involving H-2B visa holders in cases reported to Polaris-operated hotlines. H-2B visa holders are not eligible for federally funded legal services, making it extremely difficult to secure services for victims in landscaping.
Sixty-three percent of hotline cases involved men from Mexico. Some of the workers were from Guatemala or were U.S. citizens. Cases involving women and children are rare, according to Polaris-operated hotlines.
Forestry & Logging
According to data from Polaris-operated hotlines, trafficking in the forestry industry has included pine tree farm workers, reforestation planters, loggers, and workers maintaining woodland areas. Survivors in forestry are almost exclusively men from Mexico and Guatemala on H-2B visas, according to cases reported to the National Hotline.