Suspect being hand cuffed.
March 29, 2017

Group Alleges Human Labor Trafficking in Dairy

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

Polaris, a Washington, D.C.-based non-government organization fighting to eradicate human trafficking and slavery, released a report today that alleges labor trafficking is occurring in agriculture, dairy and 24 other labor categories ranging from health and beauty services to construction.

In a press conference today, Polaris released a new report, “The Typology of Modern Slavery,” which alleges labor trafficking is occurring in 25 industries. “One of the primary challenges to ending modern slavery has been the lack of data to understand the problem,” says Bradley Myles, Polaris CEO. “The Typology of Modern Slavery offers a new map to understand how human trafficking manifests itself throughout the country.”

The allegations are based on 32,000 hotline tip calls and some 10,000 potential exploitation cases over the last decade. Of these, about 16% were involved in labor trafficking, says Polaris. And about 10% of those labor trafficking reports were related to agriculture. In terms of actual numbers, Polaris reports 70 to 124 cases of suspected trafficking cases per year in agriculture. Polaris does not break down the numbers any further, but specifically mentioned dairy during its press conference. The tobacco, fruit and vegetable industries were also mentioned.

One of the greatest risks occurs when business owners rely on sub-contractors to recruit workers, which is common in agriculture. Polaris also believes that familial trafficking is more common in rural areas.

Workers who come into the United States under government visas, such as H2A, are also vulnerable. That’s especially true if those visas are not portable and are tied to one employer. That allows bad actors to exploit the worker under threat of being deported.

Read more on the report here and here.