VENTURA, Calif. – The County of Ventura’s Farmworker Resource Program housed in the Human Services Agency provided a report on the program’s progress at the County Board of Supervisors Meeting on February 4. The program has assisted more than 170 community members. Data results show that most contacts have questions about resources, labor rights and supportive services.
Agriculture is a key component of Ventura County’s economic vitality and we want to be sure farmworkers and growers are supported in making improvements that are mutually beneficial,” said Mike Powers, County Executive Officer. “The program is intended to promote the agriculture industry in Ventura County, helping to attract farmworkers and highlight Ventura County as a first-choice destination for agricultural work. The program coordinators have already made a big impact and are doing an excellent job in supporting the agricultural community.”
The program was launched in July 2019. It was developed by the Board of Supervisors and an eight-member advisory committee at the recommendation of Supervisors Steve Bennett and John Zaragoza.
“We are most appreciative of the commitment and engagement of the Farmworker Advisory Committee, comprised of representatives appointed by the Farm Bureau and the Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP). The committee engaged the voice of both the farmworker and agricultural community to best inform the design and implementation elements of the program- which is already being recognized as a model program,” said Melissa Livingston, Chief Deputy Director of the Human Services Agency.
Program coordinators assist in facilitating prompt resolutions to workplace concerns such as payroll issues and working conditions, navigating services available from public agencies, and leveraging existing resources. The program is staffed by two trilingual employees who speak Mixteco, Spanish and English, are knowledgeable about the agricultural industry, and serve as outreach resources to farmworkers and their employers.
“Building trust and relationships with farmworkers, employers, farmers, and advocates has allowed this program to be very successful in assisting with resolutions for workplace issues,” said program manager Talia Barrera.
Through effective outreach activities, the Farmworker Resource Program has established partnerships between healthcare, education, human services and many other agencies that serve the agricultural community.
“This program is an innovative approach to both supporting the County’s 36,000 farmworkers and helping growers meet their need for workers,” said Supervisor Bennett. “The great majority of growers and contractors are excellent employers. At the same time, this program offers a non-regulatory approach to resolving concerns and this is making things better for everyone.”
The program has received national acknowledgement with a collaborative roundtable meeting with the U.S. Department of Labor last November. The meeting included active participation and engagement from a number of county, state and federal agencies. The outcome of the meeting resulted in a strategic plan for 2020 and a strong commitment to partnership and sharing of ideas and resources moving forward.
“I am a longtime supporter of farmworkers, farmers and our agricultural industry in Ventura County,” said Supervisor Zaragoza. “The program is providing a friendly gateway for farmworkers to seek helpful resources and address their concerns. With the support of the Board of Supervisors we have created an environment where farmworkers and growers can improve working relationships.”
For additional program information, call (805) 385-1899 or email HSA-AGFRP@ventura.org
Farmworker Resource Program Locations:
1400 Vanguard Drive, Oxnard
Monday, Wednesday, Friday and 1st Saturdays
11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
725 E. Main Street, Santa Paula
Tuesday, Thursday and 3rd Saturdays
11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
828 Ventura Street #200, Fillmore
Tuesday and Thursday
11 a.m. – 7 p.m.