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Thread: Bitter Harvest: U.S. Farmers Blame Billion-Dollar Losses on Immigration Laws

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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Bitter Harvest: U.S. Farmers Blame Billion-Dollar Losses on Immigration Laws

    Bitter Harvest: U.S. Farmers Blame Billion-Dollar Losses on Immigration Laws

    By Alfonso Serrano | @serfer6 | September 21, 2012 | 222


    Scott Olson / Getty Images
    A migrant worker harvests watermelon from an irrigated farm field in the drought-stricken town of Vincennes, Ind., on July 18, 2012

    Ralph and Cheryl Broetje rely on roughly 1,000 seasonal workers every year to grow and pack more than 6 million boxes of apples on their farm along the Snake River in eastern Washington. It’s a custom they’ve maintained for over two decades. Recently, though, their efforts to recruit skilled labor, mostly undocumented immigrants, have come up woefully short despite intensive recruitment efforts in an area with high rates of unemployment.

    The Broetjes and an increasing number of farmers across the country say that a complex web of local and state anti-immigration laws account for acute labor shortages. With the harvest season in full bloom, stringent immigration laws have forced waves of undocumented immigrants to flee certain states for more-hospitable areas. In their wake, thousands of acres of crops have been left to rot in the fields, as farmers have struggled to compensate for labor shortages with domestic help.

    “The enforcement of immigration policy has devastated the skilled-labor source that we’ve depended on for 20 or 30 years,” said Ralph Broetje during a recent teleconference organized by the National Immigration Forum, adding that last year Washington farmers — part of an $8 billion agriculture industry — were forced to leave 10% of their crops rotting on vines and trees. “It’s getting worse each year,” says Broetje, “and it’s going to end up putting some growers out of business if Congress doesn’t step up and do immigration reform.”

    Roughly 70% of the 1.2 million people employed by the agriculture industry are undocumented. No U.S. industry is more dependent on undocumented immigrants. But acute labor shortages brought on by anti-immigration measures threaten to heap record losses on an industry emerging from years of stiff foreign competition. Nationwide, labor shortages will result in losses of up to $9 billion, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

    In Arizona, Nan Walden’s complaints mirror those of the Broetjes. Walden is vice president of the family-owned Farmers Investment Co., the largest grower and processor of pecans in the world, with 6,000 acres (2,500 hectares) of farmland in the Santa Cruz Valley, 35 miles (56 km) from the U.S.-Mexico border. Walden says the state system in place for luring seasonal workers is wholly inefficient and adds that Arizona’s infamous SB1070 immigration law has only compounded the problem, creating a climate of fear for Arizona employers and employees. “This has led to people leaving our state, going to other states without these ambiguous clouds and legal sanctions hanging over employers’ and employees’ heads,” says Walden.

    Farming operations nationwide, from New York to Georgia to California, are reeling from similar labor shortages despite offering domestic workers competitive packages that include 401(k) plans and health insurance. Almost in unison, farmers complain that even when they are able to lure domestic workers to what often amounts to high-skilled, grueling work, it’s not long before they abandon the job.

    North Carolina, whose four main crops are valued at $2 billion, has seen its labor supply vanish since nearby Alabama and South Carolina enacted restrictive immigration laws. “Clearly, immigration reform is as much a federal issue as maintaining our military or managing our money supply,” says Larry Wooten, president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau. “And this state-by-state regulation, with hyperenforcement, is putting pressure on farming operations here in North Carolina and across the country.”

    With the federal government sitting on the sidelines, some state legislatures in response to that pressure have started to consider enacting guest-worker programs, often after heavy lobbying from agricultural and business groups. Utah, for example, recently approved a program that, starting this year, will allow undocumented immigrants to work in the state legally as long as they pass background checks. The measure, though, is subject to federal approval.

    Several other states, including California, Oklahoma and Vermont, have considered similar legislation. In Texas last year, Republicans signed off on a party platform that calls for a national guest-worker program. And just before the GOP convention in August, the Republican National Committee approved a platform on immigration that calls for a guest-worker program.

    “We feel strongly that there has never been a greater need for federal leadership for immigration reform,” says Walden. “The United States farmer is still the most efficient in the world, and if we want to be in charge of our food security and our economy and add favorably to our balance of payments, we need to support a labor force for agriculture.”

    U.S. Farmers Urge Changes to Immigration Law Amid Labor Shortage | Business | TIME.com
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    NO AMNESTY

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    Senior Member avenger's Avatar
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    Looks like they put all their eggs in one basket! You'd think someone in agriculture would know better...
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    Senior Member HAPPY2BME's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by avenger View Post
    Looks like they put all their eggs in one basket! You'd think someone in agriculture would know better...
    -----------------------------------------------------

    We've been hearing for decades we're all going to starve to death unless the illegal aliens are allowed to come in here and feed us. Why is it that politics won't allow another Bracero Program?

    Bracero Program - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HAPPY2BME View Post
    . . . Why is it that politics won't allow another Bracero Program?
    Because once you let 'em come here you can't get rid of 'em.
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    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    I don't believe a word from these self-confessed lawbreaking rich farmers with their big fat cat lobbying organizations, who have lured and hired illegal aliens to come here, who steal jobs from Americans, never leave, bring their families, breed new ones, clog our schools and hospitals, and sign up for welfare costing US taxpayers billions of dollars a year.

    "401 K and health insurance" ... really?

    Temporary farm workers are supposed to get excited about 401 k's and health insurance for this 3 months of grueling work? Really? Who are you trying to fool? How dumb do you think we are? Cash in hand, baby, and lots of it. No 401 k's for people who don't even have bank accounts or phony health insurance that won't pay a claim.

    You want farm labor? Pay for it. Raise the wage, pay their expenses, advertise it and they'll show up in droves. That's what will get Americans into your fields and orchards to do this work.

    We're fed up with your lies and whines, rich farmers. 6000 million boxes of apples and 6000 acres of pecan trees and you want US to feel sorry for your rich law-breaking butts? That's laughable. No pity here.

    Do we need to write you a book "American Farming for Rich Dummies"? Here is Chapter One:

    If they don't show up for "competitive wages", then guess what, Dummies? You're wages weren't "competitive".

    Solution: Raise the wage until they show up.

    Problem solved.

    Now, on to the real problem.

    When are these two farmers going to be arrested and charged for hiring thousands of illegal aliens for years in violation of US immigration law? They must have at least 10,000 violations each over the past 10 years.

    Book 'em, and throw away the key.
    Last edited by Judy; 09-30-2012 at 06:27 AM.
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    Senior Member ReggieMay's Avatar
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    Perhaps if they would have used one of the several LEGAL options for using foreign labor, they wouldn't be in this situation. These farmers didn't complain when they saved millions by using illegal a/k/a cheap labor.
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    Senior Member BetsyRoss's Avatar
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    And we're sure the drought and fuel prices are not factors? Right. Normally people complain about it having been a hard winter. This time, we had a hard summer. They will have to regroup and recover just like the rest of us.
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    http://www.alipac.us/f19/70-years-to...on-end-224210/

    Due to the rising cost of WATER, fuel and labor.
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReggieMay View Post
    Perhaps if they would have used one of the several LEGAL options for using foreign labor, they wouldn't be in this situation. . .
    To use H-2A labor the farmer has to pay the transportation cost from the person's home country and back to their home country after the season is over, plus provide a decent place to live near the work site. They end up costing more than the farmer can pay.
    Visa program costly

    Some growers have tried to use the H-2A visa program to import documented workers into the U.S. to help out.

    One major avocado grower in San Diego County, Jerome Stehly, tried to go through the H-2A program this year. But he became so frustrated with its high cost, legal fees and housing and transportation expenses, that he's said to have scrapped it, according to several sources familiar with his use of the program.

    . . . For instance, a farmworker can earn up to $16 an hour for harvesting 30-32 baskets of mushrooms, Ramirez said.
    Why is there a shortage of workers?
    "I have no idea.

    We've advertised in local church bulletins, El Latino (a 60,000 circulation, Spanish-language weekly newspaper in San Diego), and we can't get anyone," Ramirez said . . .
    http://www.alipac.us/f12/agriculture...-crops-263125/
    Last edited by JohnDoe2; 09-30-2012 at 12:52 PM.
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