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  1. #1
    Senior Member moosetracks's Avatar
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    Ca. Dems push path to citizenship

    Bill aims to fix farmworker shortage
    CALIF. SENATORS PUSH PATH TO CITIZENSHIP
    By Nicole Gaouette
    Los Angeles Times
    WASHINGTON - California's Democratic senators introduced legislation Wednesday that would put some illegal immigrant farmworkers on a path to citizenship and revamp a little-used agricultural guest-worker program.

    Flanked by Republican colleagues, immigrant advocates and a California pear grower, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer presented the bill as a matter of survival for labor-strapped farmers.

    ``Today, many farmers are on a precipice,'' Feinstein said. ``Whether they survive to plant another season is determined largely on one simple question: Will there be enough workers to bring in the harvest?''

    About 1 million undocumented laborers work California's 76,500 farms, making up about 90 percent of the state's agricultural payroll. Tougher enforcement along the southern border and inside the country has left farmers scrambling for enough hands at harvest time, especially since undocumented workers tend to leave agricultural work for higher-paying jobs in the construction, restaurant and hospitality industries.
    If the labor shortage continues, the American Farm Bureau Federation estimates that California losses would start at $3 billion a year and could climb as high as $4.1 billion. California farms generate $34 billion in revenue a year.

    Toni Scully, a Lake County pear grower, said he lost large amounts of a nearly flawless crop last year. ``It is extremely painful for a farmer to have to see a portion of his crop abandoned, or fruit culled out because it was harvested too late,'' Scully said. He estimated that about 25 percent of the county crop was lost in 2006 because of labor shortages.

    Backers said the bill, which has four co-sponsors, has the votes to pass but also said they would prefer to see it as part of a larger immigration package.

    The legislation would allow illegal immigrants who have worked in agriculture for at least 150 days over the past two years to receive a ``blue card,'' which would entitle them to temporary legal-resident status. A limit of 1.5 million blue cards would be distributed over five years, when the program would end.
    Blue-card holders would be allowed to travel in and out of the United States. To be eligible to apply for permanent legal-resident status, they would have to continue doing farm work for another three years at 150 days a year, or for another five years at 100 days a year.
    The program would require applicants to pay $500, show that they are up to date on their taxes and have not been convicted of a serious crime.

    The bill also would revamp the H2-A guest-worker program to make it easier and less expensive for growers to use and to protect them from lawsuits. With more than 300 pages of regulations, the current program requires farmers to go through 60 steps to get workers from overseas.

    ``Only 2 percent of American agriculture uses the program because it is so difficult to use,'' said Sharon Hughes, executive vice president of the National


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  2. #2
    Matthewcloseborders's Avatar
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    I heard the rats have a stronger hold on the California senate this year, so whats the chances this will pass?
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  3. #3
    Senior Member moosetracks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthewcloseborders
    I heard the rats have a stronger hold on the California senate this year, so whats the chances this will pass?
    In California, who knows? I'd say they will pass this....then in a few more years, they will want more guest workers, as the one's they had previously, have disappeared into our Country and now taking construction jobs....just like now!

    IMO, California has allowed and welcomed this, illegals and gangs all over the place....maybe we should build a wall around Ca. too...and kick them out of the Union.
    Do not vote for Party this year, vote for America and American workers!

  4. #4
    MW
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    He estimated that about 25 percent of the county crop was lost in 2006 because of labor shortages.
    Simple solution - plant 25% less in crops this year or diversify into crops that can be harvested by mechanical means. As for the pear crop, remove 25% of the trees and sell the land or plant another crop that is less labor intense. In the business world, companies are sometimes forced to consolidate or reduce their ouput when the market dictates. Why is farming any different? If the labor market can't support 4,000-acres of pears - reduce growing acreage to 3,000. The rest of the country's business operations are forced to make tough labor decisions due to illegal immigration (or so they say), why should the farmers be given a blank check to do whatever they want? These darn growers need to quit placing their own self-interest above what's best for the nation! Moreover, Sen. Fienstein, Sen. Boxer, and friends need to do the same.

    I'm not a farmer and understand the ideas I've listed above are not perfect, but I do believe this issue needs a whole new perspective - one that considers America first. Besides all that, one thing is certain, a pear crop reduction of 25% is not going to have an impact on our country's working class.

    Heck, I can't even remember the last time I had a pear!

    Matthewcloseborders wrote:

    I heard the rats have a stronger hold on the California senate this year, so whats the chances this will pass?
    This specific situation has nothing to do with the California Senate, the Ag bill will be introduced into the U.S. Congress. Sen. Fienstein and Sen. Craig were trying to get it passed right before the 109th Congress ended, but couldn't get it up for a vote. Of course that'll all change now with the new Democrat controlled U.S. Congress.

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" ** Edmund Burke**

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    Senior Member Bowman's Avatar
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    Re: Ca. Dems push path to citizenship

    Quote Originally Posted by moosetracks
    If the labor shortage continues, the American Farm Bureau Federation estimates that California losses would start at $3 billion a year and could climb as high as $4.1 billion.
    American Farm Bureau Federation
    **Phone: (202) 406-3600*

    Call these greedy bastards and tell them we don't give a damn about their $3 billion. What about the $200 billion illegal aliens cost legal American residents right now?! This amount will double with the AgJobs bill, because every illegal will come up with fake documents to get amnesty!!

    These SOB's still have the "without slaves, who will pick the cotton?" attitude.

    Let's give them hell.
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  6. #6
    MW
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    You're absolutely 100% correct, Bowman. Get rid of the illegals (and I don't mean through amnesty) and the 3 billion would be replaced easily.

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" ** Edmund Burke**

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  7. #7
    gingerurp's Avatar
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    These California gals don't care what their constituants think about amnesty. They're gonna do what they damn well please.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Bowman's Avatar
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    I hope everybody calls the American Farm Bureau Federation this week.

    Phone: (202) 406-3600*

    I called and was transferred to a Margret Scruggs. I didn't get to speak to her, I only got her voice mail. So I left a message saying we are no longer going to subsidize their cheap labor. The Agjobs bill alone will cost American taxpayers about $30 billion a year. Plus it will likely lead to a general amnesty which will cost Americans $300 billion a year or more.

    Come on everyone, we need to give these Corporate traitors hell!
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  9. #9
    Senior Member gofer's Avatar
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    TELL THEM TO BUY SOME HARVESTING MACHINES, SENATORS! It's insane to do what they are thinking of doing!! Send them this article!!


    The following article was found at "Good Fruit Grower":


    http://www.goodfruit.com/issues.php?art ... 1&issue=24


    Mechanical aids have multiple uses
    They also often have conveyor belts that permit in-field sorting.
    By John Schmitz


    They come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations...but is one right for you?

    Tree fruit growers attending a talk on mechanical harvesting aids in Portland, Oregon, recently learned why these machines have become so popular in Europe and what they have to offer Pacific Northwest orchardists.

    The United States is well behind Europe, particularly Italy, when it comes to utilizing the technology, primarily because Europe has had more difficulties finding good, willing labor to pick tree fruits, said West Virginia U.S. Department of Agriculture engineer Don Peterson, who spoke at the event.

    In addition to reducing the amount of labor needed and improving labor efficiency, there are other reasons growers should consider mechanical aids, Peterson said.

    One of the biggest is that the machines, which take a lot of the work out of picking fruit by hand and ladder, allow growers to attract nontraditional, local pickers, even housewives, to their orchards.

    "These are people who are not willing to go up and down ladders and carry around a 40- to 50-pound sack of fruit," Peterson said.

    Mechanical harvesting aid distributor/manufacturer Gregg Marrs, president of Blueline Manufacturing Company, Inc., in Moxee, Washington, who also spoke, said that the units increase the efficiency of normally less productive pickers working from the ground.

    "On average you're going to see a 25 to 40 percent increase in productivity," Marrs said. "All the figures we've done, it looks like a two- to two-and-half-year payback. That's also calculating the maintenance costs."

    That said, he added that growers should consider not only the investment involved but also the training required and the added "complexity" of the units.

    Another advantage to harvest aids, Peterson said, is that they reduce worker fatigue, an attribute sure to please occupational safety officials.

    Part of this fatigue is due to constantly moving ladders, which can occupy up to 20 percent of a picker's time, Peterson said.

    One of the chief selling points of mechanical harvesters is that those equipped with conveyor belts permit in-field sorting, which eliminates the time and expense of handling and hauling nonpremium fruit to the packing shed.

    "I heard last year that in Washington State anywhere from 15 to 25 percent of the apples that are picked and taken to the packing shed eventually get sorted out," Peterson said.

    Finally, Peterson said that helping justify the cost of a unit is its ability to be used to prune, thin, and even train trees.

    The machines range in price from around $12,000 for a simple picking platform with bins to $50,000 for units with more features, such as conveyors.

    Marrs said that there are a number of mechanical harvester configurations commercially available today, most of those manufactured in Europe. "I think we're going to sell this product to the small and medium-size growers first and that the larger growers will be slower to accept it, because it's a bigger management task for them."

    Blueline itself has developed a new harvesting unit, which it plans to unveil this spring.

    Most mechanical harvesting aids allow pickers to work at one and/or two levels, keeping the fruit between the shoulders and the waist. Depending on the design of the equipment, picked fruit is either placed directly into bins or onto conveyors that transport it to bins.

    One prerequisite for getting maximum efficiency from a mechanical harvester aid is that the machine be presented with a "wall of fruit" grown in a single plane, said Washington State University tree fruit extension educator Dana Faubion, who also spoke.

    "The idea is to keep pickers picking all the time," said Peterson. "Never have them where they don't have fruit available to them."

    Marrs said the machines have been proving themselves in conventional dwarfing orchards in Washington. "All the orchards that are being planted today and the previous couple years are perfect for mechanical harvesting."

    Picking pears

    Bear Creek Orchards in Medford, Oregon, a sister company of mail order giant Harry and David, first became interested in using mechanical harvesting aids in its pear orchards in 2002.

    In 2004, four of the machines, three Dutch-made Munckhofs and one Spanish-made Argiles, were used to help harvest over 2,000 acres of Comice pears.

    Scott Cully, director of west Rogue River Valley orchard operations, said that expanding orchard operations and a shrinking labor supply for the short three-week harvest prompted Bear Creek to investigate and then invest in the machines.

    The jury is still out, however, he said, as to whether or not the machines will prove out.

    Not reality

    In an interview after his talk, Cully said that, if given a choice, he would prefer to have his pears picked by a "willing, eager, and local labor force with ladders, but that's not reality today."

    Subsequently, the machines, which are more inviting to nontraditional, local labor sources, are being evaluated.

    "There's no question that our data has shown that by eliminating the need for a picking bucket and a ladder, and substituting that with a picking machine, that local help will be much more interested in doing the job," Cully said.

    What Bear Creek has learned, much to its pleasant surprise, is that the machines attract a lot of willing labor from the ranks of company employees who have never picked fruit in their lives. Many of these novice pickers came from call centers, where orders are filled, and gift packing lines that aren't as busy during the late summer.
    Mixture

    Since Bear Creek has been using both the harvesting machines and traditional pickers, it's had a chance to compare the efficiency of both.

    Cully said that Bear Creek has found that the machines were "slightly" more efficient, with picking quality also "slightly" higher. Since Harry and David selects only the choicest pears for its mail order line, only about 55 percent of the pears harvested actually end up in its gift packs.

    Another attribute Cully likes is that the machines, which can be mounted with lights, let him pick at night.

    He also pointed out that the units improved safety in the orchards. "There was a reduction in injuries."

    When it comes to machine dependability, "there definitely was some down time," Cully said.

    As for the future, "We will probably have a combination of picking by ladders and picking by machine. We don't know what that will be yet."

    Bear Creek runs two to four pickers on the ground in front of the machines and two to four on the machine at various levels, depending on crop load. Harvested fruit is placed on conveyor belts that empty into bins.

    While Bear Creek did not have much success pruning with the harvesters in its conventional, semidwarfing orchards, Cully believes pruning can work and that it is a necessity to help pay for the machines.

  10. #10
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    Just read an article on how Mexicans would rather stay in Mexico but that our farmers were undercutting the prices they could get for their agg products. If American farmers are doing so well they should pay wages that would create a larger workforce.

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