Working Paper 5: How to harvest in a pandemic? The German media coverage of migrant workers and harvesting in the context of the Covid-19 crisis in 2020
Küppers, Carolin – 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has widely been discussed as a crisis that impacts daily life on a global scale, including food security, global supply chains, consumer behaviour and nutrition. In this crisis, providing food became an even more essential service, agricultural work became an essential activity, and with this, farm workers became so-called essential workers. In Germany, this topic was broadly taken up by local and national newspapers. Due to immense media interest during the first lockdown, the working conditions in the food sector and especially the marginalized status of farmworkers were rendered visible to a broader public. This paper analyses the discourses and how food production in times of the pandemic affects pre-existing workers‘ inequalities and lack of workers’ rights, revealing migrant workers as one of the most vulnerable groups in the German food system. It concludes by demonstrating that the mechanisms of Covid-19, which have been exacerbating existing inequalities in the food sector during the pandemic, are part of a structural socio-economic and socio-political crisis that must be regarded in the context of global capitalism and intersectional inequalities.