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  1. #1
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    US farmers brace for labor shortage under new policy

    FRESNO, California (AP) — Farmers already scrambling to find workers in California — the leading U.S. grower of fruits, vegetables and nuts — fear an even greater labor shortage under President Barack Obama's executive action to block some 5 million people from deportation.


    Thousands of the state's farmworkers, who make up a significant portion of those who will benefit, may choose to leave the uncertainty of their seasonal jobs for steady, year-around work building homes, cooking in restaurants and cleaning hotel rooms.


    "This action isn't going to bring new workers to agriculture," said Jason Resnick, vice president and general counsel of the powerful trade association Western Growers. "It's possible that because of this action, agriculture will lose workers without any mechanism to bring in new workers."


    Although details of the president's immigration policy have yet to be worked out, Resnick said the agricultural workforce has been declining for a decade. Today, the association estimates there is a 15 to 20 percent shortage of farmworkers, which is driving the industry to call for substantial immigration reform from Congress, such as a sound guest worker program.


    "Hopefully there will be the opportunity for comprehensive immigration reform," said Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. "That's the right thing to do for this country."


    California's 330,000 farmworkers account for the largest share of the 2.1 million nationwide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas comes in a distant second with less than half of California's farmworkers.


    Once Obama's executive action starts going into effect next year, it will protect the parents of legal U.S. residents from deportation and expand a 2012 program that shields from deportation people brought into the U.S. illegally as children.


    Manuel Cunha, president of the Fresno-based Nisei Farmers League, estimates that 85 percent of California's agricultural workers are using false documents to obtain work.


    Cunha, who has advised the Obama administration on immigration policy, figures that 50,000 of the state's farmworkers who may benefit from the president's executive action could leave the fields and packing houses in California's $46.4 billion agricultural industry.


    "How do I replace that?" he said. "I think we're going to have a problem."


    Many farmworkers are paid above minimum wage, earning more hourly than they will in other industries, but he said that workers that leave will gain year-around jobs and regular paychecks, rather than seasonal employment.


    While farmers may face a setback, Obama's order is good for workers who support families and fear that any day they may be pulled over driving to work and deported, said Armando Elenes, national vice president of the United Farm Workers labor union.


    With proper documentation, workers will feel empowered and be more valuable, Elenes said. Confronted with abuse at work — such as being paid less than minimum wage or denied overtime — workers will be able to challenge their employer or leave, he said.


    In addition, their newfound mobility will create competition for farmworkers and potentially increase wages, Elenes said, adding, "It's going to open up a whole new world for workers. A lot of times, if you're undocumented, you feel like you're stuck."


    Ed Kissam, an immigration researcher at the immigrant advocacy group, WKF Giving Fund, said he doubts a significant number of farmworkers will leave the industry. Farmworkers often lack the language, education and technical skills to move up the employment ladder, he said. "Surely some will," Kissam said. "It's not going to be a mass exodus."


    Edward Taylor, a researcher at the University of California, Davis, said a shortage of farmworkers could be exacerbated by a dwindling flow of workers from Mexico, the largest supplier of labor to the United States. Taylor said lower birthrates, more industrial jobs and better schools in rural Mexico are cutting into the supply of farmworkers.


    "U.S. and Mexican farmers have to compete for that diminishing supply of farm labor," he said. "Once this change hits, there's no going back."


    Central Valley farmer Harold McClarty of HMC Farms, who hires a thousand workers at harvest time, said there is no replacing the human hand for picking the 50 varieties of peaches he grows. His workers pick a single tree five or more times, making sure the fruit they take is ripe.


    "We haven't found any machines that can do anything like that," he said. "You can't just pick the whole tree."

    http://news.yahoo.com/us-farmers-bra...BUd5MAPipXNyoA

  2. #2
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    California's 330,000 farmworkers account for the largest share of the 2.1 million nationwide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas comes in a distant second with less than half of California's farmworkers.
    There are 39 million people in California. California is not only the highest population, it is the highest importer of labor, and it is the highest user of Medicaid. So, anyone who shows even one second of concern over who will pick the fruit in California is an idiot.
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    Florida farmers brace for shortage of workers


    Tomato growers across the state are now bracing for what they fear could be a swift exodus from an already volatile farming workforce.
    Herald-Tribune archive / 2008 / Thomas Bender


    By Josh Salman
    Published: Monday, December 29, 2014 at 4:16 p.m.
    Last Modified: Monday, December 29, 2014 at 4:16 p.m.


    Some Florida farmers worry that President Barack Obama’s move to prevent as many as 5 million people from being deported could pinch their future labor supply.

    They say the president’s action could be a blow for employment in Florida’s $9 billion agricultural sector at a time when there are widening worker shortages.

    Tomato growers across the state are now bracing for what they fear could be a swift exodus from an already volatile farming workforce.


    Demand for farming work is strong during tough economic times. But typically during a recovering economy, those laborers will leave agriculture for less intensive jobs that produce more pay and stability — like hospitality and construction.


    That is especially true for migrant workers, and industry experts fear the trend will broaden if many illegals are allowed to stay in the United States without fear of being deported.


    “It is definitely something we are concerned about,” said Bob Spencer, vice president and sales manager at West Coast Tomato Inc. in Palmetto. “We invest a lot of money in the crops we put into the ground, and we need people to harvest them to protect that investment.


    “We never know what the labor situation is going to be like from year to year,” Spencer said. “This will only make it worse.”


    Citrus growers — another top farming trade in Florida — also worry about the impact of the president’s move on their crop.


    But the government’s H-2A program, which allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals into the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs, could help offset any losses, said Gary Bradshaw, president of SMR Farms LLC in Lakewood Ranch.

    “It will impact tomato growers more than us,” Bradshaw said. “Our biggest labor is orange picking, and we contract that out. Most of those workers are under the H-2A program.”

    But the shift could mean more job seekers in the hotel industry, restaurants and homebuilding, a sector grappling with lingering labor shortages of its own.


    Up to 80 percent of workers on a typical homebuilding site are subcontractors, many with temporary green cards or no certification to work in the U.S.


    “It’s hard to get people in some of those trades, especially during summer,” area homebuilder Pat Neal said. “But a construction job is better than a typical agriculture job.”


    Earlier this week, California farmers — already scrambling to find workers in the nation’s leading grower of fruits, vegetables and nuts — expressed their worries about an even greater labor shortage under Obama’s executive action.


    Like their Florida counterparts, they are concerned that California’s farmworkers, who make up a significant portion of those who will benefit, may choose to leave the uncertainty of their seasonal jobs for steady, year-around work.


    The powerful trade association Western Growers estimates that there is a 15 to 20 percent shortage of farmworkers, which is driving the industry to call for substantial immigration reform from Congress, such as a sound guest worker program.


    “Hopefully there will be the opportunity for comprehensive immigration reform,” said Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. “That’s the right thing to do for this country.”


    With 330,000 farmworkers, California accounts for the largest shares of the 2.1 million nationwide, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows. Texas comes in a distant second with less than half of California’s farmworkers.

    Once Obama’s executive action starts going into effect next year, it will protect the parents of legal U.S. residents from deportation and expand a 2012 program that shields from deportation people brought into the U.S. illegally as children.

    Manuel Cunha, president of the Fresno-based Nisei Farmers League, estimates that 85 percent of California’s agricultural workers are using false documents to obtain work.


    Cunha, who has advised the Obama administration on immigration policy, figures that 50,000 of the state’s farmworkers who may benefit from the president’s executive action could leave the fields and packing houses in California’s $46.4 billion agricultural industry.


    “How do I replace that?” he said. “I think we’re going to have a problem.”


    Many farmworkers are paid above minimum wage, earning more hourly than they will in other industries.


    But Cunha said that workers that leave will gain year-around jobs and regular paychecks, rather than seasonal employment.


    While farmers may face a setback, Obama’s order is good for workers, who support families and fear that any day they may be pulled over driving to work and deported, said Armando Elenes, national vice president of the United Farm Workers.


    With proper documentation, workers will feel empowered and be more valuable, Elenes said.


    Confronted with abuse at work — such as being paid less than minimum wage or denied overtime — workers will be able to challenge their employer or leave, he said.


    In addition, their newfound mobility will create competition for farmworkers and potentially increase wages, Elenes said, adding, “It’s going to open up a whole new world for workers.

    A lot of times, if you’re undocumented, you feel like you’re stuck.”


    Ed Kissam, an immigration researcher at the immigrant advocacy group, WKF Giving Fund, said he doubts a significant number of farmworkers will leave the industry. Farmworkers often lack the language, education and technical skills to move up the employment ladder, he said.


    “Surely some will,” Kissam said. “It’s not going to be a mass exodus.”

    Edward Taylor, a researcher at the University of California, Davis, said a shortage of farmworkers could be exacerbated by a dwindling flow of workers from Mexico, the largest supplier of labor to the United States. Taylor said the lower birthrates, more industrial jobs and better schools in rural Mexico are cutting into the supply of farmworkers.

    “U.S. and Mexican farmers have to compete for that diminishing supply of farm labor,” he said. “Once this change hits, there’s no going back.”


    Central Valley farmer Harold McClarty of HMC Farms, who hires a thousand workers at harvest time, said there is no replacing the human hand for picking the 50 varieties of peaches he grows.


    His workers pick a single tree five or more times, making sure the fruit they take is ripe.


    “We haven’t found any machines that can do anything like that,” he said. “You can’t just pick the whole tree.”

    http://www.heraldtribune.com/article...ICLE/141229749

    Last edited by JohnDoe2; 12-29-2014 at 07:08 PM.
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  4. #4
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    Labor shortage forces Texas grower to destroy crops, cut back on acres

    Short 20 field workers, Lubbock, Texas, farmer Bernie Thiel estimates he lost about $200,000 last year when he was forced to shred some of his crops as they sat untouched in the field. Thiel, who’s been farming for more than 40 years, mainly grows fresh market zucchini and yellow squash, which, like most produce, won’t wait around for workers to be available for harvest.

    Weather wreaked havoc on Thiel’s first crop in summer 2013, but the second came around okay. It was the workers who didn’t show up. Thiel had about 30 employees, but needed 50. Unable to get all of his crops out of the ground in time, he had to destroy 10 acres or so of that second crop, and leave additional acres in the field. With his third crop, Thiel reduced his plantings by 10 acres.

    For the past two years, despite advertising heavily on local radio stations and in newspapers, Thiel could not find any new workers who were willing to stick it out for the whole season. “Those who did come out were here for two or three days, maybe a week, and then they were gone,” he said.


    As a result, instead of the normal four crews he’d sent out at one time, he could typically send out only three crews, three-and-a-half at best.


    While Thiel would be happy with anyone who would work the entire season, he said having experienced workers is key.


    “We pack for the fresh market, so they really need to know what to pack, how to pack and when to pack.

    Your pack and your quality are what sell your product,” he explained.


    A number of Thiel’s workers know the job inside and out, having joined him from Mexico for three or four months of harvesting and packing for the past 25 years or so. Still, fewer return every year and those who do are not getting any younger. The current federal guest worker program, H-2a, with its extensive paperwork and long wait for workers, has proven far more frustrating and costly than helpful for Thiel and many other growers.


    Thiel emphasized that he is hardly the only farmer who is looking at reducing his acreage so he doesn’t have to leave crops on the ground. In fact, this labor shortage has a ripple effect throughout the economy.

    With fewer crops going into the ground, Thiel will be buying less packing materials and inputs like fertilizer.

    It also affects other people Thiel does business with, like the retailers who count on having his fresh produce in their stores.


    “There’s no doubt it will begin to affect consumers,” Thiel said. “We’re going to have less of our produce grown here in the United States.”


    Thiel is among thousands of farmers and ranchers calling on Congress to address immigration reform and create a cost-effective agriculture worker program that will allow him to hire the workers he needs and ultimately ensure American consumers have access to U.S.-grown food.


    Proponents of immigration reform are hitting Congress hard with their message this month as part of the #IFarmImmigration campaign. More than 70 of the largest American agricultural groups have joined the American Farm Bureau Federation in this campaign, which is coordinated by the Partnership for a New American Economy.


    - See more at: http://fbnews.fb.org/FBNews/Top_News....21f2YJav.dpuf
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  5. #5
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    http://www.alipac.us/f19/texas-bigge...ansion-316393/

    . . .
    Tennessee, Wyoming, Indiana, Utah, and Alabama either have reached agreement with the federal government or are open to negotiations to cover their poorer residents with some variation of Medicaid and federally funded private insurance, the biggest holdout is still Texas . . .
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