WG2. Labor and employment in agriculture and agro-food industries

This panel seeks to reflect on the practices and working conditions associated with food production, both in small peasant production and in global production chains. These laboral situations, which declined under different modalities (peasants, wage earners, working mobilities, jobs in the packing industry, in supermarkets, and in new distribution companies), are closely related to the social organization of work, the dynamics of labor markets, and to the rise of new modes of production and consumption. What do they reveal of the games of actors at different scales, or about the relations of power and subordination between the public and private sectors? What do they tell us about the logics of resistance in the agrifood sector?

In recent decades, rural areas have seen the emergence of agroindustrial complexes and enclaves that carry out activities associated with extractivism and the production of commodities. These complexes compete not only for natural resources but also for local peasant labor, generating migrations to these labor markets. Elsewhere, migrations originating from the rural world fuel an agrifood sector in need of labor. In parallel, peasant economies persist and reproduce by associating capital in different ways, becoming important not only for self-consumption and the provision of family labor, but also for the provision of food to the urban population. What shows the diversity of strategies, opportunities, and circulations that affect productive spaces? Are they signs of the causes and effects of growing inequalities and the interdependencies of American economies?

While the active agricultural population decreases as the urban population grows, the agrifood sector continues to supply constant labor. However, since it attracts a population with a low skill level, the sector is pierced by growing logics of precariousness, flexibility, and by the cohabitation between formal and informal, legal and illegal, visible and invisible. What are the situations of risk? Why and how do they lead to revendication and denouncement? What do they say about the value accorded to agricultural and alimentary trades that are essential to human food security? Attention will be paid to the most vulnerable (women, children, the elderly, migrants, students). But it will also be possible to give rise to intermediaries, highly qualified actors linked to the sectors of innovation, marketing, and finance, because they also participate in the increase of differences with respect to job opportunities.

Problems associated with employment in the agro-food sector lead to debate on (the presence or absence of) public policies and legislation, trade union action, private sectors, civil organizations, and activism. The margins of action against the living and employment conditions of workers and innovations, including social innovations, must be pointed out to be improved.


· Forms of employment and family labor in the field

· Vulnerable workers vs. skilled jobs

· Working and living conditions in agro-food systems

· Public policies and labor legislation, unions, organizations, associations, trade union action

· Flexibility, precarization