Migratory Farm Workers

February 11, 1959

Report Outline
Migratory Farm Workers
Economic Aspects of Migratory System
Efforts to Improve Status of Migrants

Migratory Farm Workers

Twenty Years have passed since John Steinbeck's novel, Grapes of Wrath, directed national attention to the miserable condition of migratory farm workers. Numerous owners of marginal farms, forced off their own land by drought and depression, were then swelling the ranks of those who regularly follow the crops in search of work. Since those years, the income and living standards of the American people as a whole have risen to record heights. But the lot of migratory workers is little better today than it was in the 1930s.

American agriculture's continuing dependence on the itinerant field hand is spurring renewed efforts to improve his status, not only for humanitarian reasons but also as a means of stabilizing the farm labor supply. The new programs, governmental and private, aim to better conditions under which migrants work and live and to enable them to share the benefits of national economic progress. Agencies concerned with the problem include the President's Committee on Migratory Labor (composed of five members of the Cabinet), the Governors' Conference, and a growing number of state committees on migratory labor. At least 21 states now have migratory labor committees; two years ago there were only 12.

The National Advisory Committee on Farm Labor, newest of many citizens' organizations active in behalf of migratory and other agricultural workers, held so-called public hearings in Washington on Feb. 5–6 for the purpose of marshaling public opinion in support of legislative and administrative action to benefit farm labor. This committee, formed last October with Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, former Sen. Herbert H. Lehman (D-N.Y.), and a number of educational and religious leaders among its members, is an offshoot of the National Sharecroppers Fund whose chairman, former Sen. Frank P. Graham (D-N.C.), is co-chairman of the new group.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Farm Labor
Oct. 08, 2004  Migrant Farmworkers
Jun. 03, 1983  Migrants: Enduring Farm Problem
Feb. 11, 1959  Migratory Farm Workers
Apr. 04, 1951  Farm Manpower
Apr. 19, 1950  Migrant Farm Labor
Oct. 13, 1948  Collective Farming
Jan. 23, 1943  Farm Labor and Food Supply
Mar. 14, 1942  Farm Labor Supply
Labor Standards and Practices
Outsourcing and Immigration