Promotora Agricola El Toro, a JV Smith Companies facility with more than 3,500 workers and nearly 10,000 acres, has recently achieved Equitable Food Initiative certification, becoming the largest operation to have done so.
As part of the certification process, EFI trains a labor-management leadership team in communication and problem-solving skills and the team works to maintain compliance with labor, food safety and pest management standards. The worker-manager collaborative team at Agricola El Toro proved critical during the coronavirus pandemic, ensuring that proper safety protocols were communicated to all employees on the large team.
Green Onion Harvest at Agricola El Toro.
“The EFI model brings a range of opportunities and advantages to fresh produce companies and leads to a fair partnership between employees and the company,” said Vic Smith, CEO of JV Smith Companies. “As the pandemic began, it really showed us how much our communication networks had evolved with EFI, and the team played a critical part in protecting our workers and continuing to serve our customers.”
With EFI certification, farming operations like Agricola El Toro work to make sure that:
- Workers are treated justly and experience a safer and more secure work environment;
- Workers have direct communication to management and feel free to voice their concerns in identifying problems and creating solutions; and
- The facility commits to continuous improvement and sound management systems to improve both compliance and business performance.
EFI certification affirms the commitment Agricola El Toro made to its workers many years ago. The operation has been Ciudad Morelos’ chief employer for more than 25 years. In 2015, the company launched Sembrando Futuro, a foundation whose main objective is to further the integral development of the Mexicali Valley by promoting values of respect, dignity and solidarity. At the core of its vision, the foundation seeks to integrate the company with its community and workers through education, sport and culture. Moreover, the company offers a multitude of benefits to its workers, including adult education, scholarships for workers’ children, additional support for families, and an on-site medical office.
“EFI certification helps retail buyers and consumers identify growing operations like JV Smith Companies that are meeting socially responsible standards and truly care about their workers,” said LeAnne Ruzzamenti, director of marketing communications for EFI. “In today’s social justice movement, it is increasingly important to verify the good work and commitment growers make to their workers so that consumers can easily determine which brands to trust.”