The Whining Continues

Untitled document

I noted this one when AFP tried to spin it out. Now the Washington Post has jumped on the bandwagon. All those mean Federal policies to try to crack down on illegal immigration are making it hard for farmers to harvest their crops.

Farmers of all types of specialty crops, from almonds to roses, have seen the immigrant labor supply they depend on dry up over the past year. Increased border security and competition from other industries are driving migrant laborers out of the fields, farmers say.

Earlier this year, many farmers were optimistic about finding a solution in the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits and Security Act, or AgJobs. The bill, proposed by Sens. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), would allow undocumented agricultural workers already in the United States to become legal permanent residents and would streamline the current guest-worker program. In March and September, hundreds of growers traveled to the Capitol to lobby for the bill.

But deep divisions within the Republican Party have stalled immigration reform. Although legislation to build a 700-mile fence along the border passed the House and Senate, the AgJobs proposal has languished.

As the border tightens, Mexican workers who once spent part of each year in American fields without a work permit fear that if they go back to Mexico, they will be trapped behind the border, farmers say. Instead, they stay in the United States, taking year-round jobs that pay more and are less backbreaking than farm work, such as cleaning hotels or working in construction in cities on the Gulf Coast devastated by last year's hurricanes.

"Frequently you hear, especially from California, complaints about construction companies actually recruiting workers from the sides of the fields," said Craig Regelbrugge, co-chair of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform. Other industries that depend on immigrant labor, such as landscaping and construction, "are also concerned about the overall availability of labor given demographic trends," he said, adding: "But agriculture is the warning sign, if you will, of structural changes in the economy."

Get that one? Cleaning hotels pays better than the farm work. I realize some people in this country want that permanent underclass that will work for less money than someone who cleans hotels, but I was raised to believe slavery was wrong.

 Critics say increased wages would keep workers in the fields. Growers contend that their wages, often minimum wage plus a piece rate, are as high as they can pay and still remain profitable. Ricchiuti echoed many growers when he said local people "don't want to do the work at any price."

Farmers also contend that an existing guest-worker program is not usable. Although some industries, such as Maryland crab pickers, rely on the H-2B program to provide foreign labor, farmers argue that the equivalent program for agriculture, known as H-2A, is too complex and has onerous requirements, such as providing housing for workers. Nationwide, only 2 percent of agricultural workers use H-2A visas, Regelbrugge said.

"We explored [H-2A], and it was so cumbersome, it just would not meet our needs," said Ricchiuti of P-R Farms, who grows apples, nectarines, nuts and grapes in California's fertile San Joaquin Valley. "It's so specific; you agree to hire so many people at this time. What if the season is two weeks late? I have to have work for them. Or pay them to do nothing."

Frankly, a real crackdown on the higher paying employers would fill the fields with all the cheap labor the growers could ever need. So could raising their wages to a reasonable rate. Look what happened in Georgia.

This is bogus claptrap masquerading as news. This is agenda, not reality.

This entry was posted in Immigration Reform. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Whining Continues

  1. Bill Franklin says:

    What is your opinion on the minimum wage law? Is it necessary? Is the current hourly rate too high or too low?

    > I was raised to believe slavery was wrong.

    Don’t slaves try to escape from their working conditions, instead of risking their lives to cross the border to work?

    When fruit prices double, and the poor can’t afford healthy veggies, which causes them to punt and consume Big Macs, don’t complain about health care costs. Or do you think the profit margin on fruit is so high that the additional labor costs will be absorbed?

  2. Gaius says:

    Wow, Billy Joe Bob, that was a record for you dumping todays talking point into a comment thread. That one came from the reality based community, didn’t it?

  3. syn says:

    ‘don’t slaves try to escape their working conditions’

    Isn’t this what they were doing when they crossed the border, escaping slavery? Unfortunately, since they immigrated illegally they aren’t protected legally and forced into slave conditions, unable to assimulate due to language restrictions all the while helping to establish a permanent underclass designed to keep them as cheap labor.

    Contrary to what Cesar Chavez’s labor movement thought about insisting humans pick tomatoes as a source of endless jobs maybe the development of tomato-picking machines isn’t a bad idea afterall.

  4. Bill Franklin says:

    > a record for you dumping todays talking point into a comment thread

    Wait, left wing or right wing talking point? Usually I’m accused of posting left wing talking points. Discussing the economic impact / profit analysis and the value of the minimum wage law are pretty “right wing” talking points, no? Nice dodging and not answering the questions by the way. 😉

    I like what syn is saying – Most likely farmers will run a cost/benefit analysis and determine if a machine can do the work cheaper than the new higher cost of labor. If labor shortages drive up wages past the threshold of purchasing and maintaining a picking machine, the farmers will buy machines. This means more business for the companies who make picking machines. That’s my free stock tip of the day.

    But before you buy any stock, find out what percentage of produce is picked out of country and imported. This increase in COGS might drive domestic growers out of business if they can’t compete with foreign grown/picked produce. So, more jobs overseas, but at least we’ll be rid of those pesky immigrants, who historically have had nothing to do with the greatness of America.

  5. BubbaB says:

    Mr. Franklin:

    1. The minimum wage laws should be abolished. They rarely have an effect (in my area, minimum wage is federal: $5.15. The fast food joints are offering up to $7.00.), and when they do, they actually PREVENT people from working (basic economics.) When people can’t work, they don’t develop the job skills necessary to advance and get MORE money. Welfare pays a little better than minimum wage, but not much, and that person is stuck at those levels for the rest of their lives.

    2. Syn answered your second question quite well, but to reiterate and expand: Illegal aliens force themselves into a subclass which can be manipulated into slave-like conditions, because of one simple fact: THEY ARE ILLEGAL. Their very presence in this country is against our laws. They have no legal recourse if they are abused in any way, because self-identification would result in deportation. Therefore, illegal aliens are self-enslaved. (Yes, it saddens me to hear about the deplorable conditions illegal aliens live in. I consider it a failure of our government to prevent the abuse of illegal aliens on American soil, because the government hasn’t done ENOUGH to STOP the flow of illegal aliens. The best way to prevent slavery is to cut off the flow of slaves!)

    3. Yes, the infamous straw man: All the farm jobs will go overseas!! Right now, the US produces enough food to feed ourselves several times over. If necessary, we could cut off all food from overseas and still be fat and happy. (Although, I would probably have to give up bananas, and that would suck…)
    Tomato picking via machine is FAR MORE productive than picking by hand. With a little “creative destruction”, the farmers will rearrange the way they do things, and suddenly, our onions and oranges and other things will be picked more efficiently and effectively by machine.
    When farmers started using machines to pick corn, the price of corn eventually dropped to amazingly low levels. Do ya think it’s more efficient to pick corn by hand, or by machine? Corn products are used everywhere, in that soda you are drinking (corn syrup) and in your car (if your car uses methanol.) Do we need an influx of illegal aliens to pick our corn? NO.
    Or the simple argument: Let the “invisible hand” figure it out.

    I have no problem with immigration. I just think illegal aliens are illegal, and most of our government’s other immigration policies suck.

    —BubbaB

Comments are closed.