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National Ag Worker Survey (NAWS) in California

Bryan Little, Farm Employers Labor Service

March 23, 2017

JBS International, a consultant to the U.S. Department of Labor, has been conducting the National Agricultural Worker Survey (NAWS) since 1989 under a contract with the US Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.  The purpose of the NAWS is to provide a long-term view of wages, working conditions, social conditions, and other factors that give policy makers and agricultural associations insight into how farm workers live, work, the degree to which they migrate throughout the season and other questions to inform policy choices made at the state and national level.

JBS’ trained interviewers contact agricultural employers to request permission to conduct interviews with their workers at times convenient to the employer. You may have a JBS interviewer contact you soon asking to speak to your workers.  JBS employs strict protocols to protect the privacy of both employers and workers. Each interviewed worker receives an honorarium for participating.

As of March 2017, JBS is calling agricultural employers in the following counties to arrange interviews:  Mendocino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara, Tehama, and Tulare.  JBS expects this actvity to continue for several months.

Farm Employers Labor Service, and our parent organization California Farm Bureau Federation have encouraged agricultural employers to facilitate participation by their workers in the NAWS survey for many years.  One very valuable piece of information that has come from NAWS surveys has indicated that a large fraction of our work force are foreign born, and that a large part of that work force are not legally present in the United States, even though they can and do present documentation that permit them to complete a Form I-9 that is compliant with the requirements of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

This situation where agricultural workers freely acknowledge to an interviewer working for the U.S. government their non-legal status has lent credibility to efforts by agricultural advocates in the on-going immigration reform debate.  This includes lending credibility to the industry's advocacy for a workable, simple and affordable guestworker program.

FELS (and CFBF) urge you to facilitate NAWS participation for your workers.  If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to call FELS at 800-753-9073 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..