Agribusiness is not all we see – El Sol de México

Here there are other data and other realities that are not counted in the statistics

By Carlos Villaseñor Franco

I am a proud Jalisco native and, as you know, this state stands out for many qualities, among them, for being one of the entities with the greatest productive force within the agribusiness. Many products for national and international consumption are grown on Jalisco lands, as well as livestock farming with the production of meat, dairy and eggs.

Just yesterday I heard on the radio that in 2023 the country experienced growth in exports within agricultural activities, registering an increase of 3.9%, according to updates from the Bank of Mexico, which, of course, makes me very happy.

But, you may ask yourself, where am I going with that? I am fortunate to live close to and know great producers in the countryside, people who are serious and committed to the sector, but also people who have a small-scale production volume and who experience the countryside from other perspectives; That is where the numbers change and realities are told with another flavor.

On January 24, reforms to the Federal Labor Law and the Social Security Law were published, changes that benefit thousands of farm workers; However, the times necessary for companies to execute them are short and that puts their correct operation at risk, especially for MSMEs. But what I consider regrettable is that there are still deaf ears to listen to all those involved in the field.

It is regrettable that the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare misses the opportunity to incorporate 16 and 17 year olds into the formal sector who today already work in that line of work, but within the informal sector, and leaving them without labor rights such as social security, payment of utilities, bonuses, overtime and basic legal benefits for girls and boys in this age range. This situation does not improve the vulnerability of their working conditions and accentuates the figure of informality in employment, which we already see at close to 60%.

Among other risks of the modifications, it stands out that they were published on January 24, 2024 and their entry into force was determined the next day, that is, January 25. This accelerated start does not give companies or employers time to adapt their operations and comply with the law in just one day. Materially and structurally it is a titanicly impossible task; It’s like a bad joke.

Another risk is the transfer of governmental powers and responsibility to employers. I give two examples: the first involves supplanting tasks of the Ministry of Public Education (SEP), since employers are obliged to establish and maintain schools when the SEP does not have nearby educational centers. Surprisingly, it is in rural areas where access to basic education lacks proximity, facilities and real coverage. Therefore, transferring this right to education to an economic unit directly affects the producer and takes away responsibilities from the state. And second, the right to health, since within the law, employers cover the fees established by the Mexican Social Security Institute, however, many times there are no medical care facilities close to the workplace.

Good intentions read well on paper, but in execution, infeasibility is the reality for many farmworkers. To this, we must add the challenges they face in terms of security and all the shortcomings and absences that small producers experience. In the last four years they have experienced the disappointment of not having support for their productive activities, the guaranteed prices have arrived a year late and many have not arrived nor will they, and the low prices of consumer grains that, Likewise, they are not incentivized. Agribusiness is not all we see or all that is told, but that is another story. #CoparmexOpinion

Vice President of Finance at COPARMEX

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