Authors: C. Theodore Koebel, PhD., Michael P. Daniels
Year: 1997
Publisher: Virginia Center for Housing Research


Migrant, seasonal workers are a critical labor force for planting and harvesting a variety of agricultural products in Virginia.  Seasonal surges in demand for such labor are largely met by migrant workers who come from outside the United States in search of temporary employment. Within the agricultural economy, the farmer and the migrant worker have a symbiotic relationship that is structured by several important constraints.  The most important of these are the seasonality of the work, the low skill level of the work, and wages set by a competitive market ultimately driven by a price-conscious consumer.

The Center, in consultation with the Virginia Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Board and VaDHCD, developed a questionnaire directed to farm owners or managers. The cover letter from the Center Director to the growers explained that the purpose of the survey was to help re-establish the Virginia Migrant Housing Program, which previously funded growers to build or improve migrant farmworker housing. Also included was a letter of support from the Chairman of the Virginia Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Board.  These letters emphasized that participation in the survey was in the interest of the grower and that individual responses would be held in strict confidence.