VENTURA, Calif. – On October 9, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Farmworker Resource Program, the first program of its kind in California.
The program was developed by an eight-member advisory committee, facilitated by the County Executive Office, that included members appointed by the Ventura County Farm Bureau and the Mixteco Indigena Community Organization. The committee held 14 organizing meetings with Spanish and Mixteco interpreters available, to allow for public participation and comment in the development of the program. It will also monitor and evaluate the program as it moves forward.
“We want to build trust and relationships with farmworkers, employers, farmers and advocates,” said District 5 Supervisor, John Zaragoza. “Our goal is to develop a program that will assist farmworkers with prompt resolutions to workplace issues, and in navigating the wide array of public agencies which provide services to them. The committee worked together to make this happen.”
The County will hire two bilingual employees knowledgeable in farmworker issues to serve as outreach resources to farmworkers and their employers. The program will be administrated by the Human Services Agency.
Special attention will be given to resolving farmworker complaints regarding subjects such as payroll issues, working conditions and sexual harassment without fear of retaliation.
“Making Ventura County California’s most attractive farmworker location is a key component of our economic sustainability,” said Steve Bennett, District 1 Supervisor.
Once implemented, the program intends to achieve a record of timely resolutions to the workplace issues it addresses, and it will analyze the trends the process reveals to address systemic issues. Program employees will also provide guidelines regarding available county, state and federal resources. A key goal will be to achieve a broad awareness of the program through direct outreach to farmworkers and employers.