Rotten asparagus and just-in-time workers:
Canadian agricultural industry framing of farm labour and food security during the COVID-19 pandemic
Keywords:Migrant workers, Farmworkers, Farm workers, COVID-19, Food Security
In early stages of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian farming industry expressed panic that travel restrictions could disrupt the arrival of migrant farmworkers from the Majority World. In this Perspective essay, we consider how farm industry lobbying successfully framed delays to hiring migrant farmworkers as a threat to national food security. After demonstrating how migrant workers have long been situated in spaces of legal exceptionalism, we argue that framing migrant farmworkers as essential for the national public good of domestic food production conceals how they are also essential for private capital accumulation in agribusiness. In the haste to hire migrant workers quickly, Canadian federal and provincial governments largely failed to prevent farmworker COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths predicted by researchers and activists. We conclude by underscoring the need to fundamentally transform temporary labour migration programs in ways that uphold migrant dignity beyond exceptionalism.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Anelyse Margaret Weiler, Professor Encalada Grez
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