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La Cooperativa Campesina de California

researches disparities among migrant and seasonal farmworkers and advocates for their equal treatment.September/October 1994 issue of Poverty & Race

2101 Capitol Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95816
Contact: Ed Kissam, Principal Researcher, 707 / 829-5696 or Ilene Jacobs, Directing Attorney, California Rural Legal Assistance/ Marysville, 916/742-5191

In October 1993, findings from research funded in part with PRRAC support, "The Impact of Migrant Travel Patterns on the Undercount of Hispanic Farmworkers" was published in the Census Bureau's compilation of proceedings from its annual Conference on Undercounted Ethnic Populations. The research analyzed factors contributing to the undercount of farmworkers in the 1990 Decennial Census and found that 60-70% of low-income migrant and seasonal farmworkers may not be included in census data and that rates of undercount and reasons for undercount are likely to vary greatly from one region of the country to another. The findings have a dramatic impact on funding and planning for farmworker housing, health, education, job training, and legal services.

Administration advocacy stemming from the research has focused on the need to address structural deficiencies in the way migrant and seasonal farm laborers are counted. Rather than only seek adjustments to census undercounts, La Cooperativa and CRLA have emphasized the need to correct the demographic and socioeconomic profile of the U.S. farmworker population which arises from census omission of the poorest, least educated, and most marginally housed sub-groups among farmworkers.

La Cooperativa and CRLA are currently working with Federal agencies and researchers to develop alternative strategies for generating an improved count and profile of U.S. farmworkers. One promising strategy is to use the survey methodology of an expanded National Agricultural Workers Survey in conjunction with administrative data sets (a strategy referred to as the "NAWS+') to estimate the total numbers of farmworkers in the country and seasonal changes in the distribution of the farm worker population due to migration. The NAWS is not a Census instrument but it successfully profiles a sample of farmworkers by using surveyors, many of whom have been farmworkers previously, to conduct face-to-face interviews in Spanish. La Cooperativa is continuing to advocate for inter-agency collaboration to collectively fund research such as the "NAWS+"which will provide the information needed to plan effective social programs to meet farmworkers needs.

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