On November 30, 2017, at the recommendation of Dr. Rubén Martinez, the Michigan Good Food Steering Committee, which guides the Michigan Good Food Initiative in fulfilling the goals of the Michigan Good Food Charter, hosted Baldemar Velasquez, president and founder of Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), as their guest speaker in East Lansing. In his quiet but determined style, Mr. Velasquez shared his life experiences as a farmworker and labor union leader in Ohio and the Midwest. An articulate speaker, he eloquently addressed the current conditions of farmworkers, their challenges, and their aspirations, and advocated a supply chain strategy for change.
A native of South Texas, Velasquez came of age on the migrant stream to the Midwest. While on summer break during his days in college, he was a volunteer with the Congress of Racial Equality, an African Americn Civil Rights organization active in Cleveland, documenting police brutality cases. After making an impression on his mentor, he was told: “Good Lord, son! Why aren’t you doing something for your own people.” It was then that he decided to dedicate his life to improving the lives of farmworkers, and so he founded FLOC in 1967, organizing farmworkers in Toledo, Ohio.
Under Velasquez’s guidance, FLOC led successful national boycotts of Campbell’s Soup and the Mount Olive Pickle Company. Through his efforts, Velasquez learned that corporate food giants do not pay growers adequate prices for their goods, limiting them, in turn, on what they can pay their workers. Currently, he and FLOC are pressuring R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for better wages in one of the nations’ most unhealthy agricultural sectors.  
During his presentation, Baldemar recounted a discussion with a well-to-do supporter of FLOC who asked if he had a pension:
Technically, I am already old. ‘Well he said, don’t you have something set aside for yourself? Don’t you have a pension of any kind?’ I said “no”. I’ve been offered a pension. I had a rich guy from Toledo who wanted to buy me a pension. “Well, that would be nice but I can’t take it because I represent farmworkers. I am asking them to take risks to get involved in a movement and they don’t have a pension. Some day when they have a pension, I will take [one] when we give it to them. You can donate some money to organizing, but I can’t take a pension.”
My pension is Mathew 6:26, this is Jesus talking, ‘Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap nor store their grains in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. How much more am I going to care for you?’ I said that is my pension.  You need that resoluteness [to succeed]. You can’t let worries get in your way. As a matter of fact, that is why we succeeded in that Campbell’s Soup fight as farmworkers, because as farmworkers we don’t have anything [to lose]. And nothing becomes something very big and very important because you’ve got nothing to lose. When you have nothing to lose, who is going to leverage you? We just have to be smarter and more creative on how we take on the powers that be. How we impede the rich man’s ability to make money [to bring him to the negotiating table]. Because at the end, that is what it is all about. It’s about the numbers. It’s about math. We don’t want charity. We want a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s of work.
The members of the Steering Committee were impressed and influenced by the power of Mr. Velasquez’s presentation, his authenticity in his commitment to help the most vulnerable of the nation’s workers, and his resoluteness in the pursuit of equity at the point of production in the nation’s agricultural systems.