Walmart grant to expand ethical recruitment of H-2A workers

Walmart grant to expand ethical recruitment of H-2A workers

Tacoma, Wash.-based Cierto, a recruiter of H-2A workers for U.S. growers, has received an $800,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation.

The purpose of the grant, according to a news release, is to help Cierto expand its presence in the H-2A system, build training teams and resources, and to expand its network of community partners.

The grant runs through July 2022 and will support Cierto’s efforts to establish a standard that can be replicated and scaled industry-wide, according to the release.

Cierto seeks to put ethical recruitment of workers at the center of its business model, according to company officials.

By leveraging the funds to engage outside expertise in collecting, analyzing, and reporting data, Cierto will determine whether the best plan is a franchise or licensing model, a toolkit based on Cierto’s current practices, or a completely new model, according to the release.

Migrant and seasonal workers often face serious risks when recruited to farms in the U.S., including substandard living conditions, limited safety training and hijacked wages, according to the release. Workers also face emotional and financial effects of being away from home for long stretches at a time.

“As consumer awareness of these issues increases, growers need to know they’ll have a steady flow of labor trained to work productively on their farm,” Cierto CEO Joe Martinez said in the release. “Workers need an avenue to these jobs that is free of exploitation, fraud and trafficking. Consumers need assurance that they’ll retain access to safe, high-quality produce.

“The grant will help us build capacity, with the goal of providing this protection up and down the supply chain.”