Farmers Face Immigrant Workers Shortage
Source: Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Randy Scarbor was counting on the 15 immigrant workers who lived on his farm to harvest his 60-acre sweet-potato crop last fall, but they vanished just as the work got under way. He instead was forced to bring in some less-motivated substitutes for the backbreaking job.
"I wound up hiring some locals that weren't worth hauling to the field," he said. "It was the worst harvest labor in my life and I've been in the farming business 35 years. But we got it in."
Scarbor believes most of his regular workers were lured away to the Gulf Coast
by the promise of higher wages for jobs associated with hurricane recovery. He said he knows a few also switched to local factory and construction jobs.
He wasn't the only farmer with labor problems last season. Vidalia onion growers in south Georgia, citrus growers in Florida, fruit growers in Washington and vegetable growers in California's Imperial Valley also reported a tighter supply of farm workers, and some wonder if that could be a sign of even greater problems this year.
There's no obvious reason for the farm labor shortages, but several theories are out there, including increased competition with higher-paying jobs in most cities and those tied to the cleanup and rebuilding of areas hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
However, some farm groups also believe increased enforcement along Mexican
border also may have curbed the number of illegal immigrants with false documents that get "entry-level" jobs like picking fruits and vegetables. There are also indications anti-immigrant civilian groups such as the Minutemen have discouraged farm workers who could enter the country legally.
Let's be perfectly clear about something here. Farmers are going to be hurt in the short term when illegal immigration dries up. The key to the whole equation is to ignore the whining long enough for them to figure out a new way to do business that doesn't include low wage slaves.
Every single time, enforcement of immigration laws has been thwarted by businesses, who, as soon as their supply of low wage slaves dries up they begin to whine and pule to their representatives who then force ICE to not enforce the law.Let's help the farmers find a more honorable way to bring in the harvest!
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