Publications by topic

Don Villarejo is the sole author of the following publications, unless indicated otherwise. All documents are freely distributed for non-commercial purposes.

Recent Papers

Farmworker Anxieties, The New York Review of Books, February 18, 2019.

This publication is a brief comment written in response to Michael Greenberg's article, "In the Valley of Fear," published in The New York Review of Books in the December 20, 2018 edition.  Link to Full Text

Farm Labor Housing in the Salinas and Pajaro Valleys, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, February 13, 2018; revised August 8, 2018.

This paper summarizes findings concerning housing conditions within dwellings where hired farm workers reside at the Salinas and Pajaro Valleys of California. Analysis of data from the Census Bureau's 2016 American Community Survey (ACS) and five-year averages from the 2012-16 ACS demonstrate statistically significant associations between dwellings where farm workers reside and crowded conditions, a greater prevalence of renting vs. owning, and low per-person rental costs. In contrast, the 2017 Salinas-Pajaro Agricultural Worker Housing Survey (SPAWHS), based on face-to-face interviews with over 400 current hired farm workers in the region, reveals a much greater degree of crowded dwellings, and a majority of workers sharing dwellings, or renting a portion of space the floor of a room, among unrelated persons. The substantial disparity between findings derived from the Census Bureau's ACS and the SPAWHS underscores the critical importance of targeted surveys of farmworker demonstrated by Rick Mines more than a decade ago.  Link to Full Text

Positive Hourly Wage Rate Effects for California's Agricultural Workers from Increases in the State's Minimum Wage, July 12, 2018.

Based on an invited presentation for the annual agriculture, farm labor and immigration conference at UC Davis on April 14, 2017, this paper examines associations between periodic increases of California's minimum wage and inflation-adjusted hourly wage rates paid to California's direct-hire agricultural field labor during 1992-2015. The main finding is during four four-year periods when the state's minimum wage rates were substantially increased, inflation-adjusted, employer-reported field labor wage rates rose significantly. However, during four periods when the minimum wage remained constant, inflation-adjusted hourly earnings of field labor declined modestly. Overall, between 1992 and 2015, inflation-adjusted, hourly earnings of California's direct-hire field laborers had a net increase of 14.3% (S.D. 2.8%). During 1992 and 2015, both California's agriculture employment and production also increased.  Link to Full Text

Farmworker Housing Study and Action Plan for Salinas Valley and Pajaro Valley, Research Team: California Institute for Rural Studies-Lead: Gail Wadsworth, Don Villarejo, Richard Mines and Ildi Cummins-Carlisle. California Coalition for Rural Housing: Robert Wiener and Edward Samson. June 27, 2018.

This report presents findings of research and an action plan to address the shortage of safe, decent and affordable housing for agricultural workers in the Salinas and Pajaro Valleys of Central California. The study was commissioned by the City of Salinas and local government partners, with the active on-going participation of the 35-member appointed Oversight Committee representing agricultural employers, local government agencies, labor and non-profit service providers. The research examined trends in agricultural production and employment within the region, reviewed published findings of local housing conditions, and featured a summary of findings from in-person interviews with 420 representative agricultural workers as well as interviews with more than 60 agricultural employers and 21 local stakeholders. The action plan was based on the estimated 91,433 individuals employed as agricultural workers in the region, the housing needs assessment informed by the worker interviews, and on findings of best practices among existing farm worker housing programs in California. The action plan presented 57 itemized specific steps to be taken to address the housing shortage and proposed a goal of 930 new farmworker housing dwellings to be constructed over the next ten years, far short of the 5,300 units we think are needed. Key findings of the research and action plan were presented at an all-day Regional Forum held in Salinas on April 19, 2018. The Executive Summary and Appendix I, which provides a detailed description of the method for determining the number of individuals employed as agricultural workers, are available for direct viewing separately from the full report.  Link to Full Text

Jump to selected excerpts of the paper here:  Appendix 1 - Executive Summary

Stock Ownership and the Control of Corporations, New University Thought. Newly posted for the first time in digital access, a major paper, Parts I & II from Autumn 1961, and Part III from Winter 1962.

During the early 1960s, political economists and others had advanced the view that most large-scale American corporations were controlled by managers, and that the age of industrial oligarchs had long since passed. This report, based entirely on primary public record documents submitted by the nation's leading industrial corporations, posed a serious challenge to this view. The report identifies individual stockholders in 141 of the nation's largest industrial corporations for which the existence of concentrated ownership to the extent of securing potential working control in the corporation in question. The following link includes parts I-II from Autumn 1961, and part III from Winter 1962.   Link to Full Text

Agriculture in California - Structure and Production

Getting Bigger: Large Scale Farming in California, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, 1980, 104pp.   Link to Full Text

Prompted by the discovery of a previously undisclosed methodological ambiguity in the Census of Agriculture, a fresh compilation of farmland, cropland and land tenure among individual crop farms in every county of California finds a substantially greater degree of size concentration than previously reported. Among the state's largest farms, all but a handful are locally-based, family-owned businesses that have been able to expand, mostly by leasing land, to take advantage of the expanding market for the state's abundant output of food and fiber. A detailed review of Anderson Farms Company provides insight about how outside capital was successfully leveraged by a third-generation Yolo County farmer into a multi-million dollar enterprise.

San Diego County Agriculture, Report Prepared for Migrant Farm Worker Program of California Rural Legal Assistance, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, May 26, 1987.

San Diego County agricultural production substantially increased during the early and mid-1980s, despite rapid urban growth. Land designated for development was not being used for crop production. Losses of farmland were primarily among filed and livestock production. This paper was prepared for California Rural Legal Assistance.   Link to Full Text

San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria Agriculture, Report prepared for Migrant Farm Worker Program of California Rural Legal Assistance, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, October 5, 1988, 14 pp.

Agricultural production in the San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria area of California's South Coast expanded rapidly from the late 1970s through the mid-1980s, primarily as a result of greatly increased investment in developing new winegrape planting and greatly increasing strawberry production. As a result, agricultural employment in the region has increased as well. This report was prepared for California Rural Legal Assistance.  Link to Full Text

Farm Restructuring and Employment in California Agriculture, Working Paper #1, Working Group on Farm Labor and Rural Poverty, California Institute for Rural Studies, February 1989.

Of California's twenty largest farms in 1978, only seven remained intact in 1989. Yet most of the land remained in agriculture, albeit with new management. This Working Paper draws attention to the structural changes taking place in California agriculture, and their impact on the farm labor market. This paper was prepared for presentation at a statewide conference on Farm Labor and Rural Poverty in California, and funded by a grant from The Ford Foundation.  Link to Full Text

Ventura County Agriculture, Report Prepared for Migrant Farm Worker Program of California Rural Legal Assistance, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, May 11, 1990.

Agricultural production in the Ventura County region appeared to have been under severe pressure by increasing residential and commercial development during the 1980s. However, production of high-value fresh produce, such a strawberries, vegetables and lemons has increased during this period. Agricultural employment has increased as a result. This paper was prepared for California Rural Legal Assistance.  Link to Full TextLink to Appendices

"Agriculture and Community," Invited Paper, Symposium to Honor Prof. Walter Goldschmidt's "As You Sow," California Studies Conference, West Sacramento, California, February 8, 1991. From the collection "A Little Piece of Land: Writings on Agriculture and the Common Good in California," William L. Preston and Trudy Wischemann, Eds. Manuscript. For additional information about this manuscript, please contact Trudy Wischemann, 796 Homasell, Lindsay, CA 93247.

Since 1940, California agricultural has expanded at a remarkably rapid pace, doubling the amount of irrigated land, and witnessed the remarkable dominance of large-scale farms: in 1987 the largest 7% of the state's farms produced two-thirds of all crop and livestock output (based on value of farm cash receipts from the sale of agricultural commodities). Within the southern San Joaquin Valley region where Prof. Goldschmidt's classic study was conducted, the number of farms with at least 2,000 acres of cropland has increased ten-fold. This paper was presented at a conference honoring Prof. Goldschmidt and reflecting on his research contributions.   Link to Symposium- text version

Labeling Dole: Some Thoughts on Dole Food Company's Expansion in World Agriculture, Invited Paper, Workshop on the Global Fresh Fruit and Vegetable System, December 6-9, 1991, University of California, Santa Cruz.

The Dole Food Company's rapid expansion in the global fresh produce industry has resulted in an agricultural system in which the sun always illuminates one or another of farm fields Dole produce, from Asia to North and South America, and beyond. This paper was presented at the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Globalization Network conference as Working Paper #6, UC Santa Cruz, on agroecology and sustainable agriculture.  Link to Full Text

On Shaky Ground: Farm Operator Turnover in California Agriculture, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, November 1996.

This report assesses the risk factors for California farm operators by examining farm operator turnover for two California counties. Turnover and attrition rates are found to be quite high in both counties, while farm start-ups are also very high. Economic instability is found to be more prevalent in certain crops, farm sizes, and ethnic groups, providing a picture of who will be at greatest risk of economic failure in farming.  Link to Full Text

California Farming - Beyond Owner and Tenant, by Don Villarejo, Jennifer Sherman and Judith Redmond, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, June 1, 1998.

During the 1970s and 1980s, new forms of land tenure in California agriculture have been created, primarily in the fresh produce industry. Known as "joint deals," grower-packer-shippers have increasingly partnered with smaller scale farmers, sharing the costs, expenses, profits and risks inherent this high-risk industry.   Link to Full Text

California's Agricultural Employers: Twenty-five Years Later, Invited paper, Symposium to Observe 25th Anniversary of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act, California Institute for Rural Studies, October 4, 2000.

During the period 1978 to 2000, many of California's largest farms, based on size of cropland under cultivation, had gone out of business, or had been merged into one of their peers. A consequence of these changes is that size concentration has become even greater: in 1997 the largest 6.5% of the state's farms accounted for three-fourths of all food and fiber (measured by farm cash receipts from the marketing of agricultural commodities). Moreover, contract labor and other types of contracted agricultural service providers are increasingly replacing directly hired on-farm workers. This invited paper was presented at a conference sponsored by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act.  Link to Full Text

California Rural Communities

Economic Conditions in the Farming and Food Processing Industries: West San Joaquin Valley, Judith Redmond and Don Villarejo, Final Report submitted to the San Joaquin Valley Drainage Program, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Department of Interior. California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, July 1987, 13 pp.

The west San Joaquin Valley's agriculture was transformed during the 1970s by completion of the California Aqueduct that brought fresh irrigation water to hundreds of thousands of acres. This report presents summary findings from the 1982 business censuses, employment data and other sources. The paper was commissioned by the Bureau of Reclamation of the U.S. Department of Interior.  Link to Full Text

Rural Poverty: Can the Central Valley Qualify?, Don Villarejo, Invited Article, Legal Services Section News, The State Bar of California, San Francisco, CA, July 15, 1989.

Rural-Urban Divisions: Are They Real?, Don Villarejo, Invited Article, Earth Matters, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, Des Moines, IA, November 15, 1989.

This article was published in "Earth Matters," a journal of National Catholic Rural Life. Motivated by Congressional deliberations over the 1990 Farm Bill, the every-five-year legislation which establishes Federal farm policy, the author argues the fundamental values of working-class urban residents are actually closely aligned with those who live on farmer-worked plots of land. Whether it is bankers who charge high interest rates on loans to farmers or to city homeowners, middlemen and supermarkets who buy low and sell high, or chemical manufacturers whose products may pose serious threats to people and our shared environment, city and rural dwellers should realize they have a lot in common.  Link to Full Text

Community Organizing in Rural California - What should we do next?, Outline of presentation, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, June 1, 1995.

This 3-page outline was Don Villarejo's notes from a workshop he led in 1995, and was part of the effort to support new organizing initiatives in the southern San Joaquin Valley. See also the short, annotated list of suggested readings attached.  Link to Full Text

Rural California and Access to Telephone Service, Jennifer Sherman and Don Villarejo, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, January 7, 1997.

This report was prepared for the public utility advocacy organization Toward Utility Rate Normalization (TURN) which was seeking information about possible disparities among different types of communities within California. The principal findings is that Census 1990 reports of dwellings lacking landline telephone service indicates a significant disparity between rural or non-urbanized communities and urban communities. Among occupied dwelling in rural or non-urbanized communities statewide, the average proportion lacking landline telephone service was three times greater than the average for all occupied dwellings in the state as a whole. The report also discusses findings for several distinct geographic regions of the state.  Link to Full Text

The Firebaugh Community Case Study: Preliminary Findings, Don Villarejo, Invited paper, Conference on the Changing Face of Rural California, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of California, and The Urban Institute. California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, September 10-12, 1998.

Firebaugh, a community located on the west side of the San Jaoquin Valley, faced serious policy changes in the late 1990s when this preliminary study was completed. On the one hand, the Firebaugh Zip Code area encompasses over 200,000 acres of irrigated cropland, which is increasingly dedicated to fresh and processed vegetable and fruit production. On the other hand, evidence of buildup of salts in the soil poses a threat to the continued viability of irrigated agriculture; some advocates claim this soil contamination presents a threat to the health of residents. This paper describes these challenges. Meanwhile the population of foreign-born residents continues to increase rapidly as a result of the demand for labor needs of intensive crop production.  Link to Full Text

Poverty, Housing and the Rural Slum. Policies and the Production of Inequities, Past and Present, Sarah Ramirez and Don Villarejo, American Journal of Public Health;102(9):1664-1675, July 19, 2012.

The southern San Joaquin Valley has a little known history of mid-Twentieth Century tension between long-settled non-Hispanic white residents and newly arrived immigrants from Mexico. Small enclaves of the new settlers formed outside of municipal boundaries, where some lacked basic sanitation services. Pockets of of these rural slums remain today, where many residents of sub-standard housing eke out a livelihood at or below the official poverty level. Policy options are also discussed.   Link to Full Text

The Health Status of Residents of the East Coachella Valley, Don Villarejo, Lisa Kresge, Gail Wadsworth, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, December 31, 2012.

Official records pertaining to health status were consulted to obtain a community-wide population health profile of residents of the East Coachella Valley. This is an area where some local residents believe environmental contaminants are responsible for respiratory and other diseases among residents. This report was prepared to accompany a large-scale cross-sectional health survey of residents of the region. This project was supported by a grant from The California Endowment.   Link to Full Text

Congressional and Legislative Testimony, Expert Witness Testimony

Impact of Expanded Almond Plantings in California, Submitted in evidence to support lawsuit brought by Natural Resources Defense Council against the U.S. Department of Interior re failure to enforce acreage limitation under Federal Reclamation law. California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, 1989, 3 pp.

The rapid expansion of almond plantings in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys has fueled a debate between water conservation environmental advocates and agricultural interests. This 1989 Declaration describes the growth of almond acreage, which was stimulated in part by the availability of abundant supplies of Federally-provided, publicly subsidized, irrigation water. Some farmers who were members of the California Action Network believed they were harmed by overproduction of almonds, which drove down prices they received for their crops.   Link to Full Text

Agriculture's Underground Economy, Submitted to the Committee on Revenue and Taxation, California State Assembly. California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, December 8, 1993, 14 pp.

There is evidence that some agricultural employers deliberately understate the payroll amount on which employment taxes are based. Self-reported information provided by 180 representative labor contractors during interviews conducted in 1990 was compared with EDD records for each employer. There was a systematic difference between the two records for many of the employers who were interviewed, biased toward larger values of self-reported payrolls. Nearly all of the employers who were interviewed were licensed farm labor contractors in California, only a very few lacked the required state license.   Link to Full Text

Community Impact of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, Congressional Testimony, U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Resources, April 15, 1998.

This invited testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Resources, focused on the failure of policy makers to address the negative social and economic impacts on farm communities in rural California when local irrigation water supplies are permanently cutback and diverted to non-agricultural uses. The CIRS study of the impact of the 1987-2002 drought, a climate effect, not of policy, but of natural causes, led to a sharp decline of local wage income and employment, of city sales taxes, and of local business revenues. It is argued that neglect of rural communities when discussing transfers of irrigation water away from agriculture use has seriously implications for rural families.   Link to Full Text

Early Papers

American Investment in Cuba, New University Thought; 1(1):70-88., June 1, 1960.

Following the success of the modern Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959, led by Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement, most Americans were ill-informed about the extent of U.S. domination of the island's economy under the former dictator, Fulgencio Batista, who had enjoyed strong support by successive American Presidents. The article, which appeared in the inaugural issue of "New University Thought," describes in detail the extensive ownership of Cuba's sugar plantations by American companies, and of the major infrastructure of the Cuban economy. Link to Full Text

Electron Affinity of Oxygen, Fred A. Elder, Don Villarejo and Mark G. Inghram, Journal of Chemical Physics, 15 July 1965; 43(2):758-9.

This study applies photoionization of oxygen molecules to produce paired ions of oppositely charged oxygen atoms. A mass spectrometer is used to detect the positively charged oxygen atoms. The Hopfield continuum in helium was used as the source of ionizing radiation. Analysis of the variation of photon energy (wavelength) with the onset of ion formations leads to the result E.A. (O) = 1.461+/-0.024 eV.   Link to Full Text

Spectroscopic Study of the Early Afterglow in Helium: Visible Bands and Hopfield Continuum, Don Villarejo, Ronald R. Herm and Mark G. Inghram, Journal of the Optical Society of America, November 1966;56(11):1574-84.

Measurement of the time-resolved early afterglow of the helium spectrum show that the Hopfield continuum and the visible bands occur primarily as an afterglow following pulsed excitation. Following a rapid buildup, the slower afterglow decay of both the Hopfield continuum and a prominent molecular band occur as exponential decay for about 50 microseconds. The decay rate is found to vary with the helium pressure, but not with other discharge conditions. The kinetic constant associated with the exponential decay varies linearly with helium pressure, indicative of a two-body process. Together with other findings, it has suggested the Hopfield continuum arises from the collision of a binary, singly charge helium molecule and a neutral helium atom.   Link to Full Text

Measurement of Threshold Electrons in the Photoionization of Ar, Kr, and Xe, by Don Villarejo, Ronald R. Herm and Mark G. Inghram, Journal of Chemical Physics, 15 June 1967;46(12):4995-6.

A new approach to the study of photoionization of gaseous substances is reported in which an extreme ultraviolet monochromator is combined with a helium Hopfield continuum photon source to vary the wavelength of radiation impinging on a sample. Electrons produced by photoionization are extracted in a manner allowing detection of those produced at, or above, the photon energy associated with the threshold of photoionization. Results are reported for the rare gases Ar, Kr and Xe.   Link to Full Text

Photoionization of CO2 and the Franck-Condon Principle for Polyatomic Molecules, by Don Villarejo, Roger Stockbauer and Mark G. Inghram, Journal of Chemical Physics, 1 April 1968;48(7):3342-43.

The measurement of threshold electrons produced in the photoionization of carbon dioxide using the Hopfield continuum in helium and an extreme ultraviolet monochromator made it possible to determine the ground and first two vibrational levels 000, 001 and 002. In addition, the relative amplitude of the photoelectron count rate is found to be qualitatively consistent with calculations based on the Franck-Condon principle. Possible quantitative discrepancies with the magnitude of the calculated Franck-Condon factors are discussed.   Link to Full Text

Measurement of Threshold Electrons in the Photoionization of H2 and D2, by Don Villarejo, Journal of Chemical Physics, 1 May 1968;48(9):4014-26.

Measurement of threshold electrons in the photoionization of hydrogen molecules and, separately, of deuterium molecules, enabled determination of the onset of ionization of the sample molecules, as well as of the likely vibrational energy levels of the ions. The relative photoelectron count rates for the various vibrational energy levels are not in agreement with calculated Franck-Condon factors.   Link to Full Text

Large Vibration-Rotation Interaction Effects in Calculated Franck-Condon Factors, by Don Villarejo, R. Stockbauer and M. G. Inghram, Chemical Physics Letters, May 1968;2(1):11-13.

Calculated Franck-Condon factors for the Lyman bands of the hydrogen molecule are reported which include the previously neglected vibration-rotation interaction effects. Unexpected large cancellation results are found for a number of bands.   Link to Full Text

Vibration-Rotation Interaction Effects in Calculated Franck-Condon Factors. I. The Ionization of H2 and D2, by Don Villarejo, Journal of Chemical Physics, 15 September 1968;49(6):2523-32.

Calculated Franck-Condon factors for molecular hydrogen and deuterium are reported which include previously neglected vibration-rotation interaction effects. The results show a clear dependence of the computed Franck-Condon factors on rotational quantum number for fixed pairs of vibrational energy levels between the neutral molecule and the ion.   Link to Full Text

Vibration-Rotation Interaction Effects in Calculated Franck-Condon Factors. II. Hydrogen Lyman and Fulcher Bands, by Don Villarejo, Roger Stockbauer and Mark G. Inghram, Journal of Chemical Physics, 15 February 1969;50(4):1754-62.

Detailed Franck-Condon factors are computed for Lyman and Fulcher bands of the hydrogen molecule. Large cancellation effects, depending on rotational quantum number, are found for a number of Lyman bands. Where comparison is possible, the results show good qualitative agreement with experimentally determined intensity distributions.   Link to Full Text

Measurements of Threshold Electrons in the Photoionization of Methane, by Don Villarejo, Roger Stockbauer and Mark G. Inghram, Journal of Chemical Physics, 15 May 1969;50(10):4599-600.

There is considerable variation in the reported molecular ionization energies of methane. The measurement of threshold electrons in the photoionization of methane using the Hopfield continuum energy source and a vacuum ultraviolet monochromator yields 12.75=/-0.05 eV, in agreement with some previous findings, but not with some others. It is suggested that it the onset of ionization may involve a large change of molecular geometry. Thus, the present study's finding may not correspond to the adiabatic ionization energy.   Link to Full Text

Activism and Violence in the 1960s. Summary transcript of Interview with Don Villarejo.

Don Villarejo was interviewed by Scott S., a graduate student in Sociology at the University of California, Davis, concerning Villarejo's views on the role of political violence by protest movements and social change activists during the 1960s. The purpose was to learn from Villarejo's activists experience, which was 34+ years at the time of the interview. The interview was taped on May 11, 1989 and Scott provided a summary transcript of the interview and indicated that significant portions of the discussion were paraphrased by Scott in that process. Villarejo reviewed this summary transcript and approved the text for public access.   Link to Full Text

Food Processing Industry

Diamond Walnut Growers, Inc., and the California Walnut Industry, Report prepared for Cannery Workers Union, Local 601. California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, May 5, 1992.

During the early 1990s, the large farmer-owned agricultural cooperative, Diamond Walnut Growers, Inc., was the focus of a labor dispute between this processor-packer-shipper and Teamsters Local 601 representing employees at the San Joaquin Valley plant. This report presents a profile of the industry, the company, and of the walnut growers who served on the company's board of directors. The report was prepared for Cannery Workers Union, Local 601.  Link to Full Text

Kick the Can: Production and Employment in the West Coast Fruit and Vegetable Processing Industries, Don Villarejo, Shermain Hardesty and David Runsten, Report prepared under terms of a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, June 30, 1998.

This report examines the late 20th Century decline of production of processed fruit and of some vegetables. Consumption of canned and other types of processing has plunged during this period. For some vegetables, notably excluding tomatoes, a similar decrease of consumer preference is also apparent. Increasingly, consumers prefer value-added, fresh or fresh-cut produce, typically sold as triple-washed in relatively small bags. The rapidity of this adjustment by consumers suggests that convenience in meal preparation outweighs the increased costs of the newer forms of distribution.   Link to Full Text

Hired Farm Labor - Employment and Characteristics

Labor's Dwindling Harvest: The Impact of Mechanization on California Fruit and Vegetable Workers, Paul Barnett, Katherine Bertolucci, Don Villarejo, Regan Weaver and Cindy McNally, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, 1978, 233 pp.   Executive Summary

This research report, published in 1978, examined the then current status of the development and adoption of new labor-saving technologies for use in California's principal fruit and vegetable crops. Estimates of peak-season employment and of the likely number of jobs either lost, or potentially lost if uniformly adopted. The report also discussed how other industries, such as longshore and meat packing, developed adjustment programs to compensate displaced workers for loss of their employment.   Link to Full Text

Critique of: "Migrant Farmworkers: Number and Distribution" by Philip L. Martin and James S. Holt, by Don Villarejo, Leo Estrada and Paul Barnett, May 13, 1987.

This short paper, commissioned by California Rural Legal Assistance and published in 1987, reviews estimates prepared by Philip L. Martin and James S. Holt of the number and state-be-state distribution of migrant farmworkers. Those estimates were intended to serve as the basis for allocating Federal funds to agencies whose missions are to provide services to eligible farmworkers. The Critique concludes that these estimates were flawed, incorrectly underestimating both the total number of workers as well as their distribution among the states.   Link to Full Text

Farm Labor Contractors in California, by Howard R. Rosenberg, Suzanne Vaupel, David Runsten, and Don Villarejo, California Agricultural Studies, No. 92-2, Labor Market Information Division, Employment Development Department, State of California, Sacramento, CA, July 1992.   Link to Summary

This Research report, published in 1992 and supported by a contract with the California Department of Employment Development, examined the status of the Farm Labor Contractor industry in California. Personal face-to-face interviews were conducted among more 300 farm labor contractors, their employees and their grower clients. Interview participants were carefully selected to represent the major agricultural regions where labor contractors are reportedly active. Findings include the discovery that many licensed farm labor contractors, about one-fourth, are active in a wide range of types of agricultural businesses: some are also growers, some operate trucking businesses to haul crops to markets or for processing, still others are active in non-agricultural businesses ranging from restaurants to temporary employment agencies. Contrary to reports by some labor advocates, only a tiny fraction of contractors - defined as those who hire, supervise and pay wages - are unlicensed.   Link to Full Text

Farm Worker Needs in California, Report prepared for California Rural Legal Assistance. California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, August 14, 1992, 47 pp.; Revised November 12, 1992, 67 pp.

This report was prepared for the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation in the early 1990s and provides a portrait of agricultural trends, farm structure, farm labor markets, and the farm labor population itself, culminating in an overview of the main issues of concern to farm labor advocates.   Link to Full Text

Where Do California Farm Workers Live and Work?, A report prepared for California Rural Legal Assistance. California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, November 22, 1993.

This report, commissioned by California Rural Legal Assistance and published in 1993, provides estimates of the number of farmworkers employed in each county within which there is an appreciable agricultural industry. Two principal methods are utilized: monthly reports by farm employers identified by the county in which their principal office is locates; labor demand estimates based on harvested acreage of each crop and the overall labor requirement to plant, cultivate, irrigate, control for insects and other pests, and, finally, to harvest the final production. A few instances of sub-county analysis is also presented.   Link to Full Text

California's Agricultural Dilemma: Higher Production and Lower Wages, Don Villarejo and David Runsten, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, December 1993.

A vast surplus of workers, especially recent immigrants, and the decline in power of farm worker organizations and political interests have resulted in the erosion of farm worker wages, working conditions and living conditions over the past decade. This paper, published in 1993, explores the causes of and possible solutions to these problems.   Link to Full Text

Farm Labor Organizing in California, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, 1994.

This document is both a narrative overview of farm labor union activities in California, as well as some notes with comments about recent promising initiatives. Lessons learned are described at the conclusion of the paper.   Link to Full Text

Privatizing the Costs of the California Farm Labor Force, Invited paper presented to the Conference on the Changing Face of Rural California, The Urban Institute and Department of Agricultural Economics, University of California, Davis, June 12-14, 1995.

This paper was a prepared for a conference on the Changing Face of Rural California, published in 1995, and describes how the rapid growth of the farm labor contracting business during the post-lettuce-strike period in 1979 was associated with a decline in the number of workers protected by a collective bargaining agreement. Many firms active in the state's lettuce industry have followed suit, leaving just three producers with a union contract.   Link to Full Text

Promotores de Salud; Work Plan, by California Institute for Rural Studies, Prepared for 1995 US-EPA Environmental Justice grant program, July 1, 1995.

During the early 1990s, let by Guadalupe Sandoval, longtime colleague, the California Institute for Rural Studies sponsored and assisted in developing an annual Festival de la Salud, a Spanish-language health fair, at the Yolo County Fair Grounds in Woodland, California. Of concern was whether participants who were provided with a referral to address an adverse condition discovered during screenings at the event were able to follow-up and obtain treatment or other types of interventions. CIRS sponsored the development of a group of Promotores de Salud, lay health advocates. This brief paper describes the Work Plan for implementation under terms of the first-ever Environmental Justice grant awarded by U.S. EPA to a California-based organization during 1995.   Link to Full Text

California Farm Labor Contractor Data Base - Final Report, A report prepared for the California Labor Commissioner, California Department for Industrial Relations. California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA. November 15, 1996.

This brief report summarizes the products of CIRS research in 1996 to provide the State Labor Commissioner at the time, Victoria Bradshaw, with an accurate and reliable electronic database of farm labor contractors active in the state. The database linked license records of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement with registration records maintained by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition, the narrative describes protocols for data entry to enable the entire database to remain accurate.   Link to Full Text

Finding Invisible Farm Workers: The Parlier Survey, Jennifer Sherman, Don Villarejo, Anna Garcia, Stephan A. McCurdy, Ketty Mobed, David Runsten, Kathy Saiki, Steven Samuels and Mark Schenker, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, April 1997.

An innovative sampling technique used in the Parlier Health and Enumeration Survey successfully uncovered the residents of the town's many substandard and unofficial dwellings. This report examines the similarities and differences between the population found in the Parlier Survey and the population found by the Census of Population and other surveys, showing evidence of an undercount by the Census.   Link to Full Text

Hired Farm Workers and their Role in Community Food Systems, Don Villarejo, Invited Paper, Conference on Community Food Systems: Sustaining Farms and People in the Expanding Economy, University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program, Davis, CA, October 2-3, 1996, Proceedings, 1997.

This is the text of an invited paper presented by Don Villarejo to a conference on Community Food Systems during 1996. The paper addresses the many challenges facing those seeking to engage hired farm workers as participants of recent innovations linking consumers and producers, such as Community Supported Agriculture networks, Farmers Markets, and Food Cooperatives proliferating through much of California.   Link to Full Text

Critique: Proposed Allocation Formula for Federal Farworker Service Agencies, February 1, 1999.

This technical paper reviews the proposed Allocation Formula for the distribution of program funds to non-profit agencies who provide services to eligible U.S. hired farm workers. As described in the Federal Register announcement requesting public comments, each of three steps in the development of the formula are discussed and critical errors are examined in detail. For example, it is pointed out that Census of Agriculture data on labor expense includes wages, employer taxes, workers compensation insurance premiums as well as other types of non-wage expenses, e.g., free or subsidized housing.   Link to Full Text

Health Care Among California’s Hired Farmworkers, Invited Paper, California Program on Access to Care, California Policy Research Center, University of California, August 11, 1999. Corrections requested by CPAC and all original figures added by the author.

Commissioned as an Invited Paper by the California Program on Access to Care of the California Policy Research Center of the University of California, this report finds communities in the state in which agricultural workers are a plurality of private sector employment have the worst access to health care of all types of communities, whether urban or rural. Whether measured by the number of primary care physicians per 1,000 residents or the composite Index of Medical Underservice (IMU), these "farm worker communities" rank last in the entire state of California in having access to health care services. The paper also reviews current findings that are closely related to health access reported in the research literature, and, finally, proposes recommendations to remedy the problem.   Link to Full Text

Hired Farm Worker Health Needs Assessment, Invited paper, Symposium on the National Agricultural Worker Survey, "NAWS at 10," Department of Agricultural Economics, University of California, Davis, October 7, 2000.

This invited paper describes the initiative of CIRS, with substantial support of The California Endowment, to conduct a Health Needs Assessment among California's hired farm workers. The assessment includes both a face-to-face personal interview with participants, a comprehensive physical examination and other components. While it is too early to report preliminary results, the participation rate among randomly selected farmworkers has been unexpectedly high. NOTE: The initial findings of this research were published as "Suffering in Silence," and scientific papers by the author and co-investigators were published later. These reports are available on this website.   Link to Full Text

Research Brief. Summarizing the Key Findings of an Important New Study, A Summary of the Report Suffering in Silence: A Report on the Health of California's Agricultural Workers, Don Villarejo, David Lighthall, Daniel Williams III, Ann Souter, Richard Mines, Bonnie Bade, Steve Samuels, and Stephen A. McCurdy, California Institute for Rural Studies & The California Endowment, November 2000, 4 pp.

Key findings of the California Agricultural Workers Health Survey are summarized in the 4-page Research Brief. Supported by The California Endowment, the survey's comprehensive physical examination findings included evidence of a prevalence of some chronic diseases in the state's hired farm workforce.   Link to Full Text

Suffering in Silence: A Report on the Health of California's Agricultural Workers, Don Villarejo, David Lighthall, Daniel Williams III, Ann Souter, Richard Mines, Bonnie Bade, Steve Samules, Stephen A. McCurdy, California Institute for Rural Studies & The California Endowment, November 2000.

The California Agricultural Worker Health Survey (CAWHS) is a statewide health study of 971 California farm workers that was conducted by CIRS in 1999 with funding from The California Endowment. The survey represents the first randomized health study of farmworkers conducted in the United States. The survey encompassed: (1) levels of health care utilization by the participants' household; (2) current health status; (3) work history; (4) immigration status; (5) workplace conditions and training; (6) housing conditions; (7) wage rates and household income; and (8) occupational conditions, safety training, and injuries. Participants were also asked to participate in physical exams where baseline data on blood chemistry was collected. This landmark study brings the health crisis affecting California's farmworkers to the fore and provides the first-ever baseline health data for farmworkers in California.   Link to Full Text

Living at the Edge: Mexican Origin Farm Worker in Rural California, Invited paper, Urban Institute and University of California Conference on Immigration and the Changing Face of Rural California, El Centro, California, January 16, 2001.

During the previous forty calendar quarters, about 39% of the net growth of the U.S. labor force was among foreign-born workers, despite the fact that just 11% of the population was foreign-born. Thus, foreign-born workers are the little recognized labor force propelling the growth of the U.S. economy. Within agriculture, the reliance on Mexican-born workers is even greater, and accounts for the spectacular growth of fruit, vegetable and ornamental crop production in California. But the non-citizen workforce in agriculture has yet to benefit from the fruits of their labor. This paper reviews contemporary findings concerning the health, housing and and economic status of Mexican-origin workers who comprise more than 90% of California's farm laborers.   Link to Full Text

The Bounty of Food: The Poverty of Health, The California Endowment CEO Task Force on Agricultural Worker Health, 2001. Members: Hon. Esteban E. Torres, Chair; Vibiana Andrade, Juan Arambula, Douglas Blaylock, Diana Bonta, Henry Cisneros, Irma Cota, Ralph de Leon, Don Dressler, George Flores, Dean Florez, David Hayes-Bautista, Jane Henderson, Ilene Jacobs, Marta Lopez, Dona Mast, Adolfo Mata, Deborah V. Ortiz, Sarah Reyes, Marcia Sablan, Helen Thomson, Arnoldo Torres, Don Villarejo.

Stimulated by CIRS research findings of its California Agricultural Workers Health Survey, the California Endowment's CEO, Dr. Robert Ross, formed this Task Force of experts to recommend initiatives to address the specific health issues discovered in that research. This report summarizes the recommendations of the Task Force.   Link to Full Text

Access to Health Care for California's Hired Farm Workers: A Baseline Report, Don Villarejo, David Lighthall, Daniel Williams III, Ann Souter, Richard Mines, Bonnie Bade, Steve Samuals, and Stephen A. McCurdy, Research Findings: A Working Paper Provided from the Author's Pages, California Program on Access to Care, California Policy Research Center, University of California, Invited paper presented to the Binational Forum on Migrant Health: Tenemos Historia Hacemos Futuro, October 19, 2001, 45 pp plus 15 Figures.

This invited paper reports findings of the California Agricultural Workers Health Survey that pertain to access to care challenges faced by farm workers. This report provides detailed findings on housing, self-reported health care access, and physical examinations, separately for male and female participants. Also included are findings for participants who self-identified as documented or undocumented, by males and females. Additional information includes housing status findings.   Link to Full Text

The Health of U.S. Hired Farm Workers, Don Villarejo, Annual Review of Public Health. 24:175-193, September 25, 2002.

This report summarizes the state of knowledge about U.S. hired farm worker health as of 2002. The article includes recommendations for future research, notably to include modest physical examinations in new studies of this population, as well as suggestions for further reading and how to contacts with health professionals who serve this population.   Link to Full Text

Who's In Charge? Labor Market Intermediaries in California Employment, March 25, 2003.

Labor market intermediaries became the fastest growing segment of the employed U.S. labor force during late 20th Century as outsourcing of hiring was increasingly adopted in many industries, including manufacturing. The industry with the greatest reliance on contracted labor services is agriculture. This unpublished manuscript provides a detailed examination of business and labor practices among California's farm labor contractors. See also the accompanying bibliography on page 108.   Link to Full Text

Are Migration and Free Trade Appropriate Forms of Economic Development? The Case of Mexico and U.S. Agriculture, Don Villarejo, Journal of International Law & Policy; 9(2):175-207, April 1, 2003.

Presented as an invited paper at a conference on migration, trade and development at the King Hall School of Law, University of California, Davis, this paper explores how migration of Mexican farm workers contribute to the development of sending communities through remittances and non-monetary forms of exchange. The question is whether Mexican society as a whole receives more benefits from exporting young workers to offset the social costs of raising and educating workers who then migrate.   Link to Full Text

State Structures and Social Movement Strategies: The Shaping of Farm Labor Protections in California, Miriam Wells and Don Villarejo, Politics & Society; 32(3):291-326, September 1, 2004.

Labor market conflict in California agriculture eventually led to enactment of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975. As a result, conflict in the fields, and at the negotiating table, came under the jurisdiction of government-administered procedures. This paper describes how the fight in the fields subsequently became a fight for control of this agency and, ultimately, a political struggle in the California legislature. By tracking the decisions and rule-making by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, and its appointees, the power of organized labor sharply decline, and fewer agricultural workers were represented by labor unions than before the 1975 law was enacted.   Link to Full Text

Mendocino County Hired Farm Workers, Report prepared for California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc., March 4, 2005.

This paper provides then current information about Mendocino County's agriculture, with a focus on hired farm workers in the county. One of the most significant findings is that winegrape production has continued to expand, even as urbanization proceeds rapidly. Most farms have relatively small acreages of trees and vines, but farm employment has increased rapidly in response to increased production and labor demand.   Link to Full Text

Farm Labor Research Needs: How Do Workers Fare When Production Increases?, June 14, 2006.

Prepared for an invitation-only conference of farm labor researchers and selected advocates, this report provides an overview of the growth of the production of fresh produce - fresh vegetables, citrus fruits and berries - together with evidence of a major shift from direct-hire to labor intermediaries. A case study of the California strawberry industry indicates average wage rates declined while production increased, and labor union activity had no measurable effects on the industry. A five-item research agenda concludes the report.   Link to Full Text

An Assessment of the Demand for Farmworker Housing in Napa County, Ron Strochlic, Don Villarejo, Sandra Nichols, Cathy Wirth, Raoul Lievanos, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, March 1, 2007.

The Napa County Board of Supervisors commissioned this study of the demand for farm labor housing in Napa County, the state's leading region for the production of premium-quality wine. The research included face-to-face interviews with 200 farm workers during the 2006 winegrape harvest, and interviews with 158 growers, farm labor contractors and vineyard management companies. Crowded housing conditions were commonplace among farmworkers, and a substantial number lived in adjacent or distant counties owing, in major part, to the lack of safe, decent and affordable housing in the county. Both employers and workers agreed that meeting the housing needs of the seasonally-employed workforce was the single most important goal for Napa County.   Link to Full Text

An Assessment of the Demand for Farm Worker Housing and Transportation in Mendocino County, by Ron Strochlic, Lisa Kresge, Don Villarejo, Cathy Wirth, California Institute for Rural Studies, CA, August 1, 2008.

Prepared by CIRS under a contract with the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, this study found that most farmworkers lived year-round in Mendocino County. Unlike most agricultural counties in the state, Mendocino County farms are dispersed among the many heavily forested land of the county, with relatively isolated valleys providing land suitable for crop production. Some 205 workers and 100 farm employers were interviewed. Most winegrape production in the county is among relatively small producers, unlike other major winegrape production counties in the state. Combined with the dispersal of farms and residences, transportation of workers between home and jobs is a serious problem.   Link to Full Text

Health Care Access Among Undocumented Farm Laborers in California, March 21, 2009.

This report was presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology in 2009, and reports the findings of the California Agricultural Workers Health Survey regarding utilization of health care services according to immigration status. Findings were from 970 face-to-face interviews of randomly selected participants. The findings clearly demonstrate disproportionately fewer undocumented male workers had sought and used health services in the U.S. than was the case for male citizen and documented workers. In contrast, the proportion of undocumented female workers who accessed U.S. health care services was not statistically different than the proportion of female citizen workers. It is suggested that California's Emergency Medi-Cal program that provides free pre-natal and post-delivery care for mothers and their newborns accounts for this achievement.   Link to Full Text

Comments on JBS estimates of farm laborers eligible for health services, August 26, 2009.

This paper assesses the relative accuracy of estimates of the number of crop farm workers prepared by the consulting firm JBS International, the sole contractor responsible for the U.S. Department of Labor's National Agricultural Workers Survey. The JBS estimates were prepared for use by the Migrant Health Program to determine resource allocations to serve workers eligible for their services. The assessment compared JBS estimates for California with corresponding data from administrative data for California. The comparison between QCEW FTE data for California found the JBS estimate was within 2% of the QCEW data, a remarkably close agreement.   Link to Full Text

The Health of California's Immigrant Farm Laborers, by Don Villarejo, Stephen A. McCurdy, Bonnie Bade, Steve Samuels, David Lighthall, Daniel Williams III. American Journal of Industrial Medicine; 53(4):387-397, November 22, 2009.

This publication in The American Journal of Industrial Medicine provides an overview of the health status of California's immigrant farm laborers. Based on the findings of the California Agricultural Workers Health Survey, the article presents self-reported findings as well as results of a comprehensive physical examination. The survey finds elevated risk of chronic disease but lack of access to health care. Survey participants who lacked employment authorization were more likely to engage in personal risk behaviors and were also less knowledgeable about workplace protections.   Link to Full Text

Proposed Changes to New York State Labor Law: Testimony in Support of the 'Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act,' Submitted to the New York Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture, February 25, 2010.

At the request of the New York Migrant Ministry, testimony in support of the 'Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act' was prepared for submission to the New York Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture. The proposed law would include agricultural workers within New York State's labor relations laws that apply to workers in other industries. The testimony described how chaotic, and sometimes disruptive, labor actions, such as strikes by farmworkers, soon disappeared once California's Agricultural Labor Relations Act was approved and implemented in 1975. The fairness of the ALRA has been repeatedly tested, as when it has provided a neutral mechanism under which, by secret ballot voting, some workers have de-certified union representation with which they were dissatisfied. The New York legislature failed to approve the proposed law.   Link to Full Text

"The Challenge of Housing California's Hired Farm Laborers," Don Villarejo, Chapter 11, Rural Housing, Exurbanization, and Amenity-Driven Development, Perspectives on Rural Policy and Planning, Ashgate Publishing Company, pp. 207-222. January 1, 2011.

This invited article appeared in an edited collection concerning recent housing trends in rural regions of the United States. The article includes findings of housing conditions among farm laborers who participated in the statewide California Agricultural Workers Survey.   Link to Full Text

Health-related Inequities Among Hired Farm Workers and the Resurgence of Labor-intensive Agriculture, Don Villarejo, Health Program, The Kresge Foundation, December 1, 2012.

The Kresge Foundation requested the preparation of this report, asking that it focus on the risks to health, both occupational and non-work-related, faced by hired farm workers in U.S. agricultural. The foundation made a considerable effort to obtain confidential, independent, peer review to assure reliability of the publication. Disparities in health status and access to health care, as well as inadequate measures of mortality and life expectancy are among the challenges presented to public health agencies and providers who seek to improve the lives of the nation's farmworkers.   Link to Full Text

Improving the health of agricultural workers and their families in California, Marc B. Schenker, Stephen A. McCurdy, Heather Riden, Don Villarejo. University of California Global Health Initiative. February 1, 2015.

Sponsored by the University of California Global Health Institute, this report summarizes contemporary findings on the health status of California's agricultural workers and their family members. The paper concludes with a six specific policy recommendations.   Link to Full Text

A New Paradigm Is Needed for Labor Relations in Agriculture: California Agriculture and Farm Labor, 1974-2014, June 24, 2015.

Reviewing the economic status and the decades-long absence of labor actions by California's hired farm workers, the author suggests the "labor vs. capital" model of labor organizing may have become obsolete for agricultural workers. Moreover, with the dramatic shift of food purchases to meals prepared outside the home instead of those cooked at home, the "value added" sector may become a locus of consumer-worker pressure to improve wages and working conditions. Already, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers have won real gains in earnings for those workers involved in the southeastern U.S. fresh tomato harvest, mainly in Florida, as a result of consumer-worker pressure on fast-food and some mass-market discount stores.   Link to Full Text

Immigration Policy

The Tomato Industry in California and Baja California, David Runsten, Roberta Cook, Anna Garcia and Don Villarejo, U.S. Commission on Agricultural Workers, Case Studies and Research Reports, Appendix I, February 1993.   Link to Executive Summary

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) included agreements reducing tariffs and other obstacles to trade between Canada, Mexico and the United States. This report was authorized by the Congressionally-mandated Commission on Agricultural Workers to examine how the U.S. fresh tomato industry and the corresponding Mexican industry would be expected to adjust as trade obstacles were reduced. Of special interest were differences in wages and labor conditions among producers on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. There are both an Executive Summary and the full report on this link.   Link to Full Text

Agriculture & Immigration Issues in the 1990s, Don Villarejo, Invited Book Chapter, Immigration Reform and U.S. Agriculture, Philip Martin, Ed., University of California, Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics, April 1995.

This invited paper was presented at conference in Washington, DC, on March 27, 1993, at the USDA headquarters. The main points are that U.S. fruit, vegetable and ornamental horticulture production continues to increase; the corresponding increase of the demand for farm labor is readily demonstrated; and the pool of farm workers of the future is located outside of U.S. borders. Thus, immigrant workers will become an even greater share of the U.S. farm labor force than is the case today.   Link to Full Text

Employer Sanction Citations in California Agriculture, September 11, 1997.

Employer sanctions were a key part of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 which authorized penalties if an employer "knowingly hired" an individual who lacked authorization for U.S. employment. This report presents an analysis of the Employer Sanctions Data Base assembled by the Center for Immigration Studies from the INS Case Closed File. Data from FY1988 through FY1999 were available for this analysis. The main findings with respect employers of agricultural workers suggested that fewer than 1.25% of California employers of farm workers were cited per year. In contrast, the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) finds about 42% of California crop workers told official government interviews during FY1995-FY1997 they were not authorized for U.S. employment.   Link to Full Text

"Foreword," Don Villarejo, Forum for Transnational Employment, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, April 2001.

This anthology of research reports and policy essays focuses on alternatives to the status quo in immigration law. In light of the debate in Washington, D.C regarding guest-worker legislation, this publication provides a timely foundation for debate and progressive policy development. It also offers a much-needed historical perspective on this pressing issue. Foreword
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Patterns of Employer Sanctions Enforcement in the U.S. and California, Don Villarejo and Miriam Wells, Report submitted to the University of California Institute for Labor and Employment and the National Science Foundation, October 18, 2003.

Employer sanctions enforcement, especially fining practices are reviewed in the context of IRCA and the post-9/11 experience. The authors conclude that enforcement activity has been minimal, likely not sufficient to deter future violations of law. Moreover, enforcement activity appears to be newly aimed at workers in which employers are permitted to demand that workers produce adequate documentation if their I-9 Forms appear suspicious. Workers who fail to produce adequate documentation are then subject to immediate dismissal.   Link to Full Text

Methods for Researchers

Research for Action: A Guidebook to Public Records Investigation, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis CA, 1980, 112pp.

This classic guidebook to public records investigation returns to the publications listing due to popular demand. Although somewhat dated, many of the techniques it teaches are still relevant today, and it remains an essential tool.
Link to Full Text
Link to Back Cover Comic courtesy of Robert Crumb

New Method for Surveying Farm Worker Populations, Don Villarejo and David Runsten, Poster Presentation, The First National Conference for NIOSH-Sponsored Centers for Agricultural Disease and Injury Research, Education and Prevention, February 1994.

Description of sampling method using systematic identification of all where individuals are found to be living, including unconventional living spaces.   Link to Full Text

Hired Farm Worker Health Survey, Outline of Methodology, June 1, 1999.

This is a brief summary of the methodology used for the California Agricultural Workers Health Survey, supported by a major grant from the California Endowment. See the publication "Suffering in Silence" for additional information.   Link to Full Text

Pesticide Policy

Groups Call for Immediate Suspension of Pesticide Causing Birth Defects, statements by Cesar E. Chavez, Ralph Lighstone, Marion Moses, Lawrie Mott, Michale Picker, Don Villarejo, October 6, 1986.

Amid reports that the pesticide Dinoseb was associated with birth defects among female farm laborers exposed to the chemical, a coalition of advocates representing farm workers, consumers, environmentalists, and researchers called for an immediate suspension of use of the chemical. Cesar E. Chavez said it was time to end use of this dangerous pesticide.   Link to Full Text

A Review of Economic Models Used to Assess the Impact of Canceling Pesticide Registrations, Charles V. Moore and Don Villarejo, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, December 1995.

This paper questions whether partial budget or partial equilibrium models to estimate the effects of canceling registration of pesticides currently in use. The authors show that the welfare costs of ethyl parathion use in California was substantial, but ignored in such models. A careful analysis of lettuce crop yields in specific crop fields showed no loss subsequent to cancellation of this pesticide. There is an executive summary.   Link to Executive Summary and Full Text

A Critique of the Report "Economic Impact of Methyl Bromide Cancellation", Charles V. Moore and Don Villarejo, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, January 1996.

Critique of the January 1996 report by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which described economic impacts that were predicted to result from the potential suspension of the pesticide methyl bromide. The CDFA report is found to be seriously in error, based on faulty economic analysis.   Link to Full Text

Pesticide Cancellation and Kentucky Windage, Charles V. Moore and Don Villarejo, Choices, Third Quarter 1996, pp. 36-38.

This paper was published in the policy journal "Choices" in 1996. The paper reviews the use of ethyl parathion in lettuce before and after this pesticide's registration was cancelled. Findings based on 2,045 field-level data points demonstrate there was no statistically significant post-cancellation reduction in lettuce crop yields reported by six growers whose production accounted for 9% of U.S. production during the summer and early fall months.   Link to Full Text

The Parathion Ban: A Modern Parable of the Blind Man and Elephant - A Response, Charles V. Moore and Don Villarejo,Choices, Second Quarter 1997, pp. 37-38.

This paper is a response to a critique by Leonard Gianessi of the paper titled "Pesticide Cancellation and Kentucky Windage," by Moore and Villarejo (see full text of this latter paper on this website). While giving some credit to Gianessi, Moore and Villarejo point out several defects in his analysis, and end with the parable of "Chicken Little."   Link to Full Text

Economics and Pesticide Regulation, Charles V. Moore and Don Villarejo, Choices, Fourth Quarter 1997, p. 44.

This paper is a response to a short paper by Lichtenberg who argues that subjective and partial information in making economic conclusions is justified because efficacy and timeliness reduces costs. Moore and Villarejo argue that subjective information has no place in scientific discourse, and that erroneous partial information is worse than no information at all.   Link to Summary
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How Effective are Voluntary Agricultural Pesticide Use Reduction Programs: A Study of Pesticide Use in California Almond and Walnut Production, Don Villarejo and Charles V. Moore, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, October 1998.

Total pesticide use in U.S. agriculture has continued to increase in recent years. This report examines the effectiveness of programs designed to reduce pesticide use among California almond and walnut growers.   Link to Full Text

Information and Pest Management: A Study of the Impact of Information Availability and Pesticide Use in California Almond and Walnut Production, Charles V. Moore and Don Villarejo, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, October 1998.

This report compares pesticide use by two carefully matched cohort groups of almond and walnut growers in California's Central Valley: one group advised by independent pest control advisors, and one group advised by chemical company representatives. Data on advisor fees, pesticide use and expenditure, yields and rejection rates are all analyzed.   Link to Full Text

Reclamation Policy

New Lands for Agriculture: The California State Water Project, Don Villarejo with the assistance of Jude Crisfield and Phyllis White, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, 1981, 16pp.

A detailed examination of land ownership and use in the San Joaquin Valley service area of the State Water Project. This report explains the expansion of California agriculture into previously uncultivated areas of the state.  Link to Full Text

Agricultural Land Ownership and Operations in the 49,000 Acre Drainage Study Area of the Westlands Water District, Report 060-A, Assembly Office of Research, California State Assembly, Sacramento, CA, February 1985, 37 pp.

The finding of widespread birth defects among wildfowl at the Kesterson Wildlife Refuge in California's San Joaquin Valley resulted in the discovery that agricultural drainage water with high concentrations of selenium from nearby farming areas were being dumped in the refuge. The California State Assembly Office of Research commissioned this study of land owners and farm operators in the nearby Drainage Study Area whose effluent had been delivered to the Kesterson Refuge.   Link to Full Text

How Much is Enough? Federal Water Subsidies and Agriculture in California's Central Valley, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis CA, 1986, 115pp.

Supported by The Ford Foundation, this research examines compliance with the acreage limitation provisions of the 1982 Reclamation Reform Act which allowed farmers to receive Federally subsidized irrigation water on no more than 960 acres per farm. Primary data was compiled for named owners and/or farmers on every tract within ten water or irrigation districts in California's Central valley. The findings suggest that most landowners and farmers were in compliance, but a relative handful (13%) of large-scale owners and/or farmers control nearly two-thirds (62%) of the Federally irrigated land in these ten districts. The final chapter of this report examines changes in agricultural land ownership between 1940 and 1982 in the entire three-county area comprising Kern, Kings and Tulare Counties. During this period, more than one million acres were brought under irrigations with Federal water for the first time. The main finding is that just 4.1% of the agricultural owners controlled a majority (52%) of the farmland of the three counties.   Link to Full Text

Some Factors Influencing Future Agricultural Water Demand in California's Central Valley, Don Villarejo with the assistance of Stephanie Mandel, Final Report submitted to the San Joaquin Valley Drainage Program, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Department of Interior. California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, May 30, 1986, 44 pp.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation sought estimates of future demand for Federally-supplied irrigation water in the Central Valley of California. This report reviewed current agricultural practices and discusses trends toward greater production of fruits, nuts, vegetables, dairy products, and a few other commodities. Non-bearing acreage of trees and vines indicate further near term expansion. On the other hand, farmers are facing higher water costs, as well as the chronic cost-price squeeze which affects most commodities. Finally, increasing foreign demand for some agriculture commodities may be adversely affected by possible trade disputes.   Link to Full Text

Westlands Water District: Land of Super-Farms and Super Subsidies, California Institute for Rural Studies, August 7, 1986.

The Westlands Water District, located on west side of California's San Joaquin Valley, is the nation's largest irrigation district supplied with Federally subsidized water. This report summarizes a detailed examination of the district's farms and communities. Notably, the lack of compliance with the 1982 Reclamation Reform Act as well as the region's reliance on low-wage farm labor has made it possible for some of the nation's largest farms to received substantial subsidies while keeping many of its workforce in poverty.   Link to Full Text

Land Ownership in the Grasslands Study Area, Report submitted to San Joaquin Valley Drainage Program, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Department of the Interior. California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, September 30, 1987.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation commissioned this study of agricultural land ownership within the Grassland Study Area of the San Joaquin Valley Drainage Program. The intent of the study was to identify patterns of land ownership in a region in which excessive naturally occurring concentrations are leeching into drainage water, potentially posing a health risk to residents and wildlife of the valley floor. The main findings of this research are that land ownership is highly concentrated. The 28 largest ownerships account for one-third of all of the 1.5 million acres in the Study Area.   Link to Full Text

Missed Opportunities, Squandered Resource: Why Prosperity Brought by Water Doesn't Trickle Down in California's Central Valley, Don Villarejo and Judith Redmond, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis CA, 1988, 78 pp.

Findings of a study into implementation of reclamation law in the Westlands Water District where huge farm operations receive federally subsidized irrigation water. The study documents the methods by which these farms evade federal acreage limitations, and the report describes the impact on rural communities.   Link to Full Text

U.S. Senate Reconsiders Reclamation Law. Newsletter account of 1991 Senate Committee Hearing published in Rural California Report.

Summary and direct quotations of September 12, 1991, testimony by Don Villarejo, Phillip Doe and Hal Candee before the U.S. Senate on Water and Power. A sidebar includes financial performance information of the J.G. Boswell Co., California's largest farming business. Published in Rural California Report, Vol. 3, No. 3, October 1991.  Link to Full Text

Impact of Reduced Water Supplies on Central Valley Agriculture, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, February 1995.

The extended period of drought in California from 1987-1992, and the accompanying reductions of federal irrigation water to Central Valley agriculture, provide a real-world case study of the likely effects of permanents cuts in water for farming. This report examines the impact of reduced Central Valley Project water deliveries on agricultural production, and discusses related policy issues.   Link to Full Text

93640 at Risk: Farmers, Workers and Townspeople in an Era of Water Uncertainty, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, March 1996.

In this detailed case study of the effect of the 1987-1992 droughts on the farm town of Mendota, CIRS finds that irrigation cutbacks have hurt farm communities. It was discovered that reductions of irrigation deliveries from the Central Valley Project adversely affected farm employment and wages, which in turn caused declines in produce packing and shipping, as well as local spending, retail sales, taxes, and city revenue.   Link to Full Text

U.S. Federal Reclamation Programs. A Record of Technical Success and Social Failure Proceedings, El Seminario Regadios y Estructuras de Poder, Universidad Internacional Menedez Pelayo, Valencia, Spain, September 11, 1997.

This invited lecture discussed the disparities between Federal Reclamation policy to develop irrigated farming in the arid western United States and the corresponding emergence of large-scale faming of labor-intensive crop agriculture. A unexpected consequence was the rapidly increased reliance on Mexican immigrant labor, and growth of poverty in the communities of those regions.   Link to Full Text

Jobless After a Man-made Drought, A Report to the Fresno County Economic Opportunities Commission and the Fresno County Workforce Investment Board, August 31, 2004.

This study was commissioned by the Fresno County Economic Opportunities Commission and the Fresno County Workforce Investment Board. Fallowing of irrigated farmland owing to a policy-driven reductions of water supplies to the Westlands Water District during the period 2001-03 resulted in the loss of about 42,500 acres of formerly productive land, an estimated loss of $60 million of farm revenue, the shutdown of 18 farms, a loss of 750 farm labor jobs, and an estimated decline of $6 million of farm payroll. Estimates of the impacts of prospective additional cutbacks of water supplies are also discussed.   Link to Full Text

Workplace Health and Safety

Social and Economic Concerns, Don Villarejo, Invited Paper, Conference on Health Concerns of Living and Working in Agricultural California, School of Public Health & Cooperative Extension Service, University of California, Davis, June 6-7, 1990.

In response to Congressional mandate, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health issued a request for proposals to conduct research and develop interventions in the agricultural industry, an area which had long been neglected. The University of California responded by convening a conference to bring together scholars, health service providers and government officials to develop a framework for a proposal to create a Center on agricultural safety research and intervention within UC. Don Villarejo was asked to organize participation of providers, especially agencies serving agricultural workers, farm labor advocates and Mexican-American community leaders. In addition, Dr. Villarejo was also asked to present a lecture on Social and Economic concerns within agricultural regions of the state.   Link to Full Text

Agriculture and Workers Compensation in New Mexico, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, August 23, 1994.

New Mexico Legal Services sought assistance from Don Villarejo to estimate the economic impact of a proposal to require agricultural business operating in New Mexico to provide workers compensation insurance coverage to hired farm workers. The paper describes the workers compensation claims experience of desert-region agricultural businesses in California, operating under similar arid conditions to those faced by farmers in New Mexico. This analysis suggests the proposed workers compensation insurance requirement would likely have a relatively small economic impact on New Mexico agriculture.   Link to Full Text

New Directions in the Surveillance of Hired Farm Worker Health and Occupational Safety, A Report of the Work Group Convened by NIOSH to Identify Priorities for Hired Farm Worker Occupational Health Surveillance and Research. Members: Valerie Wilk & Rose Holden, Co-Chairs; Susan Bauer, Susan Brock, Edward Hendrikson, Matthew Keifer, Gina Lombardi, Paul Monahan, Michael O'Malley, Salvador Sandoval, Emma Torres, Don Villarejo. May 5, 1995.

In May 1995, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) convened a panel of experts to recommend both priorities and methods to conduct occupational health surveillance among the nation's hired farm workers. The challenges to surveillance are substantial in this workforce owing to the short-term character of many jobs, as well as differences of race, ethnicity, language, culture and migration patterns. This report summarized the principal findings of the Work Group.  Link to Full Text Link to Poster

Can Safety and Health on Farms be Improved Through Strengthening Ethical Behaviors as Derived from Agri-Cultures?, Don Villarejo, Keynote Address, National Institute for Farm Safety, Inc., Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, June 23-27, 1996, Proceedings, 1997.

1996 Summer Conference, National Institute for Farm Safety, Drawbridge Inn, Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. This paper explores the development of ethical principles in agriculture that directly address occupational health and safety issues.   Link to Full Text

Assessment of Health Risks to Farm Workers of Agricultural Pesticide Use in Santa Clara County, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, January 16, 1997.

As part of a study of agricultural occupational health risks presented by farm use of agricultural chemicals, Aguire International contracted with the California Institute for Rural Studies to prepare a research report summarizing pesticide use in the county, and to review Cal-OSHA's Santa Clara County agricultural business inspection reports. Among the findings is that several Cal-OSHA reports of agricultural occupational illnesses owing to pesticide exposures were among food processing workers, not farm laborers.   Link to Full Text

The Health Status of California's Hired Farm Workers, Don Villarejo, Report prepared by request from Joel Diringer, Program Officer, The California Endowment, November 6, 1997.

The California Endowment, through Program Officer Joel Diringer, solicited this paper. The report summarizes what was known at that time about the health status of California's hired farm workers, and suggested recommendations which the foundation should consider supporting. One of those recommendations resulted in a major grant to the California Institute for Rural Studies to conduct the research which came to be known as the California Agricultural Workers Health Survey, conducted during 1999-2000.   Link to Full Text

"Farm Labor Contractors and Safety in the Fields," Don Villarejo, Platform Presentation, The Second National Conference for NIOSH-Sponsored Centers for Agricultural Disease and Injury Research, Education and Prevention, Fort Collins, CO, March 1995, Proceedings: Plains Center for Agricultural Health and Safety, Colorado State University, 1997.

Documents changes in employment among farm workers with a shift toward farm labor contractors. 1993   Link to Full Text

"Safety Law Enforcement in California Agriculture," Don Villarejo, Paper Presented to Third NIOSH Agricultural Health and Safety Conference, Ames, Iowa, March 24-26, 1996, Proceedings by the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health, 1997.

This paper summarizes an analysis of citations for "serious violations" of Cal-OSHA workplace standards in agriculture during the period 1993-95 as part of the Targeted Industries Partnership Program (TIPP). Findings include: three-quarters of citations were for violations of the field sanitation standard, the next-highest frequency of citations were for violations of standards for operation of farm machinery, 38% of employers cited were farm operators, 62% of employers cited were farm labor contractors or other types of labor market intermediaries, and the greatest number of TIPP citations issued to farm operators were in the berry industry. Suggested interventions were reviewed.   Link to Full Text

"How Farm Workers Perceive the Worker Protection Standard of U.S. EPA," by Don Villarejo and Celia Prado, Proceedings. Conference on Health and Safety in Western Agriculture, Agricultural Health and Safety Center, University of California, Davis, June 1, 1997.

This paper summarizes a presentation at a 1997 conference on workplace health and safety in western states agriculture. A convenience sample of several hundred farmworkers in the northern San Joaquin Valley and southern Sacramento Valley who were asked whether they had any knowledge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or provisions of the newly promulgated Worker Protection Standard. Few workers have any knowledge of the agency or the new regulations.   Link to Full Text

Occupational Injury Rates Among Hired Farmworkers, Don Villarejo, Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health; Special Issue (1):39-46. June 1, 1998.

Based on data released by the Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California, a quasi-public agency which compiles detailed records of compensation claims submitted on behalf of workers injured on the job. All claims within the agricultural risk classification codes were analyzed, yielding estimated injury rates for each category of agricultural activity.   Link to Full Text

Workplace Health-and-Safety Violations in Agriculture: Epidemiology and Implications for Education and Environmental Policy, Stephen A. McCurdy, Don Villarejo and Maria Stoecklin, California Policy Seminar, December 1, 1998. Executive Summary

Enforcement of safety and health regulations in the workplace is presumed to encourage employers to engage their employees in safe practices. Cal-OSHA is the lead agency carrying out worksite inspections and levying fines if violations are found. During 1993 and 1994, a multi-agency task force, the Targeted Industries Partnership Program, led by the Labor Commissioner, including Cal-OSHA, conducted substantial inspections in agriculture. This Executive Summary and full report present an analysis of the type of violations discovered and the types of sanctions imposed. Recommendations for future interventions are also discussed.   Link to Full Text

The Occupational Health Status of Hired Farm Workers, Don Villarejo and Sherry L. Baron, Occupational Medicine: State of the Art Review; 14(3):613-635. July 1, 1999.

At the invitation of the editors, this article provides a detailed review of the published academic literature of research reports on the health of hired farm workers. This review indicates a variety of adverse occupational health outcomes were prevalent in this population, notably musculo-skeletal injuries and various conditions associated with exposures to agricultural chemicals.   Link to Full Text

The Health of Children HIred to Work on U.S. Farms, California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, CA, February 11, 2000.

This short paper summarizes initial findings of research on the prevalence of occupational injuries and illnesses among minor children employed as hired farm workers. Data from the National Agricultural Workers Survey indicates a relatively low prevalence nationally and an even lower prevalence in California. The paper suggests the strong regulatory requirements imposed in California may be responsible for the lower rate in California.   Link to Full Text

Policies to Improve the Health and Well-being of California's Hired Farm Workers, Don Villarejo and Marc B. Schenker, November 17, 2005.

Commissioned by the California Program on Access to Care of the University of California Office of the President, this paper summarizes California findings concerning health status and access to health care services of the 2003-04 National Agricultural Workers Survey of the U.S. Department of Labor. Notable findings were the widespread lack of health insurance among workers, but high rates of participation in Medi-Cal among family members. Policy recommendations are described as well.   Link to Full Text

Environmental Health Policy and California's Farm Labor Housing, Don Villarejo and Marc B. Schenker, John Muir Institute on the Environment, University of California, Davis, May 1, 2007.

This review was commissioned by the John Muir Institute on the Environment of The University of California. The review of the recent scientific literature on farm labor housing in California indicates most workers reside off-farm in private market housing. But many workers are found to live in crowded or extremely crowded conditions, often with several unrelated persons who, as boarders, share the dwelling and its facilities. Following a discussion of some adverse health outcomes associated with those living conditions, the authors suggest eight policy initiatives to improve the living conditions of California's agricultural workforce.   Link to Full Text

The California Agricultural Workers Health Survey, Don Villarejo and Stephen A. McCurdy, Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health; 14(2):135-146. April 1, 2008.

Published in the Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health, this report summarizes occupational health findings in a survey of 970 randomly identified hired farm workers in which the response rate was 83%. An occupational injury during the 12-months preceding the interview was reported by 6% of the men and 2% of the women. Self-reported health conditions include persistent pain (daily for one week) in a the back, neck, knees, shoulders, hand, feet or multiple body parts. Reports of exposures to pesticide sprays were associated with irritated, itchy or watery eyes. Some workers reported health conditions associated with being forced to taste unwashed grapes to determined its degree of sweetness.   Link to Survey

Heat-related Occupational Illnesses in California Agriculture: Prevention and Regulatory Effectiveness, April 27, 2009.

During the mid-1990s, there were several periods of persistent, extreme, high heat conditions in the agricultural regions of California's San Joaquin Valley and Desert areas. Regrettably, the prevalence of occupational fatalities caused by heath stroke or heat exhaustion rose sharply at those times. California's Governor Schwarzenegger was prompted to order Emergency High-Heat Illness Prevention regulations which were later officially approved by state agencies. This paper reviews Cal-OSHA information of each fatal case among agricultural workers and finds indications of systematic, inadequate enforcement.   Link to Full Text

(Un)Safe at Home: The Health Consequences of Sub-standard Farm Labor Housing, Don Villarejo, Marc B. Schenker, Ann Moss Joyner, Allan Parnell, California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. June 3, 2010.

California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc., commissioned this comprehensive review of health risks to residents of dwellings, whether farmworkers or not, that have any kind of specific, substandard features: structural flaws, environmental pollutants or lack basic residential services. Absent comprehensive, nationally representative housing surveys which include direct, third-party measures of residents' health status, it proved necessary to cite case studies of farm worker housing where specific, substandard features were reported to infer the likely adverse health outcomes among residents. Recommendations included the urgent need for a nationally representative survey of farmworker housing.   Link to Full Text

Celebration of Don Villarejo's Career: Remarks, December 10, 2012.

On December 10, 2012, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Western Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, together with the Department of Public Health Sciences, sponsored a celebration of the career of Don Villarejo. The brief paper comprises his remarks.   Link to Full Text

The Status of Farm Labor Housing and the Health of Workers, March 6, 2015.

Published by the California Institute for Rural Studies, this paper expands on the invited remarks by Don Villarejo at the July 16, 2013 conference of California Rural Legal Assistance at the Asilomar conference center. The main findings are that all but a relative handful of the state's hired farm workers now reside in market housing, which has effectively shifted the responsibility and cost of housing from employers to workers. A consequence of this change from employer supported housing to private market housing in a state with notoriously expensive housing is that a very large share of workers share dwellings with unrelated workers, which is associated with extremely crowded conditions.   Link to Full Text

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Last modified: April 19, 2019