The Moral Burdens of Temporary Farmwork

Oxford Handbook of Food Ethics (Anne Barnhill, Tyler Doggett & Mark Budolfson eds., Forthcoming).

41 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2017 Last revised: 27 Oct 2017

See all articles by Sabine Tsuruda

Sabine Tsuruda

Queen's University Faculty of Law

Date Written: September 30, 2016


Agricultural guest worker programs are typically justified on the ground that they enable host countries to cheaply meet their labor needs while offering nonresidents access to higher wages than in their home countries. But to participate in the programs, guest workers must temporarily sever personal and political ties to then come to a new country and either not establish new relations or rupture the new ones when their work authorization expires. Not only is this a burden for the workers — especially since many nonresidents perform repeated tours of guest work — but the programs also risk depleting associational life in major sending countries. This contribution argues that adopting such programs to avoid having to perform as much farmwork, or to avoid the (perceived) costs of permanent immigration, treats guest workers’ interests in associational life as less valuable than the like interests of host-country residents. Thus, even if the programs could ensure decent pay and safe working conditions, the programs’ effect on nonresidents’ associational ties provides a distinctive and compelling reason to cease such programs under their current formulation and create a path to citizenship for guest workers.

Keywords: guest workers, agriculture, egalitarianism, immigration, association

Suggested Citation

Tsuruda, Sabine, The Moral Burdens of Temporary Farmwork (September 30, 2016). Oxford Handbook of Food Ethics (Anne Barnhill, Tyler Doggett & Mark Budolfson eds., Forthcoming)., Available at SSRN:

Sabine Tsuruda (Contact Author)

Queen's University Faculty of Law ( email )

MacDonald Hall
128 Union Street
Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6 K7L3N6

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