A migrant worker from Oaxaca, Mexico prepares tobacco stalks for stripping in Midway, Kentucky.
Benjamin Crúz Perez, a 42-year-old migrant worker from Mexico, carries stalks of tobacco to be processed at a barn in Midway, Kentucky.
Between 1 and 3 million migrant farm workers leave their homes every year to work in US agriculture. Although invisible to most people, the presence of migrant farm workers in the US is undeniable. Hand labor is still a necessity for the production of blemish free goods.
Javi Crúz, a 34-year-old migrant worker from Mexico, is proud to have a job in the U.S. "Working on this farm gives me an opportunity to give back to my family. Its hard to find this opporutnities back home," he says.
Thomas Richard "Dick" Mucci, a 65-year-old tobacco farm owner in Midway, Kentucky, takes time from working on his tobacco farm to tend to his cattle. "You should always have multiple ways of generating income because you can't always count on your crop," he says. Mucci Farm is one of 20 remaining tobacco farms in Kentucky. With more tobacco farming being outsourced to foreign countries, Mucci believes that within 10 years Untied States tobacco farming will be a thing of the past.
Without the help of migrant workers, Tobacco farming would not be possible according to Thomas Mucci, owner of the Mucci Farm in Midway, Kentucky. "The generation in our local community has changed, most young people here are not interested in labor type jobs," Mucci says.
Up to 8 migrant workers will share a 1 bedroom apartment to help consolidate their income.
Tobacco stalks are hung upside down in the rafters of the barn to reduce moisture after harvesting.
Migrant workers stock pile tobacco stalks as they are taken down from the rafters.
Migrant workers tell jokes as they strip leaves from the tobacco stalk in Midway, Kentucky. There are three grades of leaves on a tobacco stalk that are separated for processing.
Tractors are used to haul tobacco stalks back to the land where they are dumped to help replenish the soil.
Tobacco stalks are separated for processing at the Mucci Farm in Midway, Kentucky.
A migrant worker seeks a better cell phone signal in Midway, Kentucky.
Thomas Richard "Dick" Mucci takes time from working at the tobacco barn to tend to his cattle. "You should always have mulitple ways of gernerating income because you can't always count on your crop," he says.
Mucci and the migrant workers remove wagons from the barn to make room for tobacco.
Benjamin Cruz Perez, 42, views a photo of his family in Mexico in front of the apartment he shares with fellow migrant workers.
The Mucci Tobacco Farm
Isael Cortes, a 20-year old migrant worker from Mexico, works at the Mucci tobacco farm in Midway, Kentucky. When asked about his motivations to work in the United States, he said, "It's hard work, but I have a wife and a one year old daughter back home and I can make more money here." Mexican laborers can purchase 6 month US work visas in Mexico for 1,100 pesos.