AGRICULTURE: Valley of Decision

In California's Edenlike Central Valley, rich earth and baking sun combine to produce lush crops of fruits and nuts. But to the men who harvest the crops—the state's 250,000 farm laborers—the great valley is no paradise. A mixed and restless lot, most of them live in rural slums that blight the countryside, are out of work a third of the time, make an average of $1,700 a year, are not covered by most federal employment laws. All this makes the valley, once the scene of bitter strikes by the Okies and Arkies of Grapes of Wrath fame, fertile soil for...

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