Red Sand Project: Human Trafficking and Agriculture

On Wednesday, July 26th at 3pm via Facebook live stream, the Martin Farmer’s Market will shine a light on human trafficking in the agriculture industry. This year, the Tennessee Department of Health and communities around the state are bringing awareness to the issue by participating in Human Trafficking Awareness Week and the Red Sand Project, July 24 through July 29.

According to the U.S. Department of State, at any given time, there are an estimated 24.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. The agricultural industry, unfortunately, is an industry that predisposes certain worker demographics to becoming victims of human trafficking.

Agriculture in the United States is defined largely by its seasonal nature, irregular income, and locations in rural or isolated areas. Farms are not highly-regulated workplaces, and farm labor is typically a low-income job. Many farm workers are undocumented immigrants or hold H-2A visas, which allow foreign-born persons to work seasonally and temporarily on an American farm for up to 10 months. On its website, the National Human Trafficking Hotline explains that the line between agricultural employment and trafficking is often blurred in the United States. When an employer uses force, fraud, or coercion to maintain control over workers, employees become victims. 

The Red Sand Project aims to raise awareness about human trafficking through public art installments. Red Sand activists most commonly spread natural red sand into public sidewalk cracks to represent trafficking survivors who have “fallen through the cracks of society.” A large portion of the world has already fallen victim to human trafficking, and many people are in industries and areas predisposed to becoming victims. By highlighting the Red Sand Project and the issue of human trafficking, the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network hopes to raise awareness and promote safety and health in the agriculture industry. 

To report suspected human trafficking activity, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security encourages the public to contact federal law enforcement. You may call their hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or submit a tip online at www.ice.gov/tips

Additional Resources: 

Red Sand Project

TDH, Communities Participating In Red Sand Project to Raise Awareness of Human Trafficking

Farm Labor Report by USDA Economic Research Service

About Human Trafficking by U.S. Department of State 

Human Trafficking in Agriculture by National Human Trafficking Hotline 

NPR: A Human-Trafficking Case Exposed Farmworker Abuses. The Government is Promising Change. 

~ Written by Laura Myhan
~Infographic design by Sydney Grant
Marketing and Communications Interns 2022
Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network