Scare Tactic

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Here's a real beauty. AFP of all outlets is carrying this little gem. The report says that US farmers, in California in particular, are facing a "crippling" labor shortage due to the illegal immigration crackdown.

Farms across the United States are reporting shortfalls in the number of available workers, which in many cases has caused crops to go unpicked.

Blame for the lack of labour is laid squarely at the door of a crackdown on illegal workers crossing the US-Mexico border and the absence of flexible legislation that would allow farmers to hire workers on a seasonal basis.

Toni Scully, co-owner of Scully Packing in northern California's Lake County, said she usually hired 900 fruit pickers to harvest their crop during the three-week window. This year, however, she could only find 500 workers.

"We think about 40 percent of our workers didn't come because of the increased security on the border," Scully told AFP.

"By our estimates we've left about 20 to 30 percent of the crop either hanging on the tree or lying on the ground because we couldn't pick it," she added. "It's just heartbreaking because we had a beautiful crop."

Scully said the labor shortages had not been felt as severely amongst growers of other produce in the region, whose crops were lower this year for unrelated reasons such as adverse weather.

"That's the important thing to bear in mind — other crops like cherries and raisins were down from 20-40 percent this year and yet many growers still struggled to get everything picked," Scully said.

But this article is not exactly what it purports to be. The problem may not – and actually almost certainly is not – the "crackdown" on illegal immigration. Said crackdown not really having occurred in any meaningful sense of the word. The problem may be that age-old one. The real reason: the growers will not pay enough to attract workers.

The Western Growers Association, whose 3,000 members in California and Arizona account for around 50 percent of the United States' fresh produce, said the labour squeeze was being felt widely.

"We are getting reports almost on a daily basis from our membership," said WGA spokesman Tim Chelling. "If it's not a crisis then it's certainly close to a crisis. Millions of dollars have been lost so far."

Chelling also said the industry was also losing workers to better paid jobs in the construction and tourism sector.

Gee, get me my violin here. I linked an article that described the fallout of a immigration raid in Georgia a while back. When the illegals fled, wages rose by 14% and people were quitting Wal-Mart to get the higher wages. There's a moral to the story there. I, for one, am not willing to mortgage this nation to provide cheap labor to certain sectors. Kind of a shame that some are.

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