Listen to Brent and Sophie Nagao's story. Audio Producer: Laura Bult

Small farmers like Brent and Sophie Nagao have been hit hard by the recession and unfavorable agricultural policies. They have owned a small fruit farm in Selma, California for the last four decades. The economic downturn has made the industry unprofitable, raising the price of fuel and equipment. Harsh immigration laws have also made it difficult for the Nagaos and other small farmers to find laborers, many of whom have fled for fear of deportation. Still, the Nagaos say the farm is “in their blood” and refuse to leave the land, like many of their neighbors have done. Their son Evan will be the family’s fourth generation farm owner, but they all have outside jobs to try and make ends meet.

 

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“In 1978, it might have been economically feasible and perfectly legal for an executive to award himself a multimillion-dollar bonus while shedding 40 percent of his work force and requiring the survivors to take annual furloughs without pay. But no executive would have wanted the shame and outrage that would have followed any more than an executive today would want to be quoted using a racial slur or photographed with a paid escort.”

- The Broken Contract: Inequality and American Decline by George Packe

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