Monday, October 31, 2011

U.S. Faces Severe Shortages of Farm Workers

1. NPR -- "Alabama farmers are facing a labor crisis because of the state's new immigration law as both legal and undocumented migrant workers have fled the state since the strict new rules went into effect last month.

In Baldwin County on the Gulf Coast, strawberry planting season is just a few weeks away. Farmers are wondering if they'll have the crews to get the plants in the ground.

Alabama Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan says there's no doubt the immigration law has left farmers in a lurch. He says they're concerned about where the labor is going to come from since legal immigrants are leaving along with the illegal ones."

2. SEATTLE TIMES - "One after another, at a recent emergency meeting called by the Governor's Office, Washington fruit growers talked about how hard it's been to find workers as the harvest hits its sweet spot. Apples alone are a $1.5 billion-a-year business in the state.

And two weeks ago Gov. Chris Gregoire amped up what now has become an almost annual harvest-time refrain by growers when she declared the state's farm-labor shortage a crisis.

Growers mostly blame rising tensions around illegal immigration that have spooked migrant farmworkers, the majority of whom are here illegally, while worker advocates say there'd be no shortage if growers were willing to pay workers more."

3. ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION -- "State officials have set their sights on another potential pool of workers to help bridge Georgia’s severe farm labor gap: prisoners."

15 Comments:

At 10/31/2011 4:05 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Where are the right-wing howlers who always exclaim, even during hurricanes, "There is no such thing as a shortage---only supply and demand."

Have these farmers considered raising wages? Oh that? Duh.

That said, closing the border to immigrants is a huge structural impediment.

With borders open to goods, services, labor and capital, the supply-side argument becomes strange. We have plenty of supply of everything, many times that of the 1970s. We can source globally.

What we need is demand, great honking gobs of it.

 
At 10/31/2011 4:21 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

"State officials have set their sights on another potential pool of workers to help bridge Georgia’s severe farm labor gap: prisoners."

Prisoners with marijuana experience should have an advantage.

 
At 10/31/2011 4:51 PM, Blogger Bill said...

Another stupid policy that will end up destroying the Republican party. The last thing we need in Georgia is to destroy our farming economy because our legislature wanted to get on the "keep our borders closed" bandwagon. The chicken farmers can't get "legal" workers to pluck the chickens and are thus losing their incomes. Most of the illegal farm workers are church going and hard working who just want a better life for themselves and their families. This is hardly California or South Texas.

 
At 10/31/2011 6:15 PM, Blogger Jim said...

A few years ago, President Bush offered a "Pathway to Citizenship" proposal to Congress that would allow work visas for immigrants that met certain requirements. These requirements would have some take as long as 11 years to become citizens. These requirements were tougher than any that our ancestors had to meet yet both the left and the right criticized this plan. Had it been passed, there would be no labor shortage now but farmers would have to pay more - something they didn't want to do. Now the food will rot in the fields!

Of course, there are automated picking machines that are suddenly cost justified for farmers to invest in. BTW, there are plenty of good workers available at $20/hour + temporary quarters. Farmers will still make a profit, albeit, a smaller profit.

 
At 10/31/2011 7:13 PM, Blogger Tim said...

All of these States have people collecting unemployment benefits. A condition of receiving unemployment benefits is a requirement to actively look for work. Here are plenty of jobs that don't require any specialized training that are ripe for the picking. Sure these are temporary jobs that involve hard work and low rates of pay, but they are still jobs.

Individuals collecting unemployment benefits that refuse to take these jobs should have their benefits terminated. Labor shortage solved while reducing government dependency, a win-win situation.

 
At 10/31/2011 7:57 PM, Blogger aorod said...

Put those "occupiers" to work...

 
At 11/01/2011 2:13 AM, Blogger The Chinese Capitalist said...

With the unemployment rate above 9%, there are plenty of workers who would work even for minimum wage. Why aren't these farmers recruiting workers from the surrounding cities? Farmers have been complaining for years and I've never seen an adequate answer to my question.

If I remember correctly, when John McCain said that no Americans would pick fruit even for $20/hr and offered to hire them, hundreds took him up on it and he had to back down.

 
At 11/01/2011 11:10 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

How wonderful for the US economy. Empty out the prisons and use the people in them to pick apples or plant strawberries. After all, we all know how hard these people work and how dependable they are when motivated by minimum wage job offers.

When will idiot Americans figure out that when they deny work to those willing to take it they only hurt themselves through higher prices?

 
At 11/01/2011 3:35 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Either raise the prices and benefit offerings(20/hr + benefitsas an example) to attract US citizens or automate it. Using illegals just says that you think you're above playing by the rules.

Let pain cause by the lack of illegals continue until no foreign labor is used.


Individuals collecting unemployment benefits that refuse to take these jobs should have their benefits terminated.

Only if it is not a net loss to take the job. Why should the unemployed take a sacrifice if the business wont?

 
At 11/02/2011 2:12 PM, Blogger Eric H said...

If the illegals are allowed to participate in food stamps, social security benefits, "free" public education, in-state college tuition, etc., those strawberries aren't so cheap as you thought.

 
At 11/02/2011 4:14 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

If the illegals are allowed to participate in food stamps, social security benefits, "free" public education, in-state college tuition, etc., those strawberries aren't so cheap as you thought.

None of those things are constitutional to begin with so why don't you argue that they should be ended?

 
At 11/02/2011 4:17 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Either raise the prices and benefit offerings(20/hr + benefitsas an example) to attract US citizens or automate it. Using illegals just says that you think you're above playing by the rules.

Consumers won't buy American at those prices so that is not the option. The farmers will go bankrupt and you will have more people on the welfare rolls.

Let pain cause by the lack of illegals continue until no foreign labor is used.

Why? If the jobs are offered and Americans don't want them let the Mexicans get their $12 per hour and do the job instead.

 
At 11/02/2011 4:18 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Only if it is not a net loss to take the job. Why should the unemployed take a sacrifice if the business wont?

Why? Because there are jobs to be filled well above the minimum wage but the unemployed refuse to work.

 
At 11/09/2011 1:02 PM, OpenID 0229518e-0afd-11e1-bccd-000bcdca4d7a said...

Let'see. Free Marketers believe that supply will match demand when the price is right. All the farmers have to do is pay white guys twice as much to do a quarter of the work and the problem will be solve. No need to thank me.

 
At 11/09/2011 3:48 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Let'see. Free Marketers believe that supply will match demand when the price is right. All the farmers have to do is pay white guys twice as much to do a quarter of the work and the problem will be solve. No need to thank me.

You forgot the people who call the shots, the consumers. They do not want to pay more for US fruits and vegetables if foreign farmers can offer much cheaper products. I doubt that American farmers, who are forced to pay above market prices will want to thank you.

 

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