At Local Bounti we love happy plants. Our plants are kept in the ideal environment from the initial seedlings to the packaged products, ensuring that our produce stays fresh and delicious for weeks. You will no doubt smell and taste the difference of Local Bounti herbs and leafy greens. In order to bring our farm to your kitchen and deliver the freshest, locally grown produce in the fewest miles possible, we must ensure that we not only cultivate our plants properly but also our culture. Our mission is rooted in sustainability and in turn human welfare, and we have a truly unique culture when it comes to the agriculture industry.
So what is the traditional ag industry like? Unfortunately, traditional outdoor farming is often characterized by its harsh working conditions coupled with low wages. According to the Department of Labor, nearly 25% of farm workers today earn a family income below the federal poverty line – that is less than $22,000 a year for a family of three. With fewer than 1% of farm workers in the United States belonging to a union, there is often no one advocating on their behalf for a fair living wage. In addition, given the seasonality of industry, outdoor agriculture companies are frequently unable to provide workers with full-year employment or benefits.
In addition to low pay, the working conditions can be grueling – long hours of manual labor, unfavorable weather conditions and overexposure to pesticides and herbicides. Farming is also one of the few industries where the entire family, who may also work on the farm or live on the premises, is at risk for injury and illness. As a result of these harsh working conditions, injury rates for U.S. farm workers are very high. In fact, agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
We recognize that our industry has a long way to go when it comes to improving worker welfare, safety and pay. The controlled environment agriculture (CEA) space in which Local Bounti operates, however, is beginning to make important strides in improving working conditions. As we grow indoors, CEA provides full-time, full-year jobs versus the transient labor often associated with traditional outdoor agriculture. We are also able to establish our indoor farms (greenhouses, vertical farms, container farms, and more) in underserved Opportunity Zones. By building our farms in urban, economically distressed areas, we are able to create much needed employment for the region while also bringing food security to areas that are often 1,000 miles away from fresh produce. Salaries for indoor agriculture also tend to be higher than traditional outdoor farming. That said, based on our internal research of the competitive CEA landscape, CEA worker pay is still below the living wage.
Local Bounti employees are healthy and empowered. Our employees are valued and respected. They have a passion for their work and for Local Bounti’s success.
This brings us back to the beginning of our discussion – Local Bounti’s truly unique industry culture. Local Bounti employees are healthy and empowered. Our employees are valued and respected. They have a passion for their work and for Local Bounti’s success. This shared passion for achievement is the lifeblood of our company.
Why are our employees so happy? Every single one of Local Bounti’s employees is offered a living wage and full benefits. In fact, full-time employees at our Bitterroot Facility in Hamilton, Montana make $2.00 more per hour than average for similar agriculture jobs in the state. In addition, unlike the grueling hours of outdoor farming, our team has standard working hours to ensure a work/life balance.