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Dan Moffett

Farmers Reporting Crop Losses Because of Immigrant Labor Drop

By July 9, 2012

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An analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation projects annual crop production losses of between $5 billion and $9 billion because of farm labor shortages.

For decades, the United States has relied on illegal labor to plant and harvest its crops. About 60% of the nation's farmworkers are undocumented, according to the U.S. Department of Labor and agriculture industry officials.

But workers from Mexico and other Latin American countries aren't crossing the Southwest border in the numbers they used to. American farmers say it's a perfect storm that's causing their labor shortages.

Increased enforcement along the border, better economic conditions in Mexico, a spate of harsh state laws aimed at illegal immigration and the U.S. recession have reduced the ranks of migrant farmworkers.

In California, farmers are reporting labor shortages as high as 40%, according to the Farm Bureau. Some Florida fields are off nearly as much, and the problem reaches through the Midwest. What it means to U.S. consumers is higher costs at the supermarket.

Not only has Congress given up on comprehensive immigration reform, lawmakers also have tabled proposals to change the H-2A visa program to bring in more temporary workers.


July 9, 2012 at 11:58 am
(1) hacimo says:

I If the wages offered to farm workers remain the same or drop then their is no labor shortage. That is the ultimate test. What the farmers say about rotting crops is irrelevant since they have an incentive to lie and the information is anecdotal and fragmentary. Another way to tell what is going on is by looking at the total profit or production reports for the agricultural sector. This is generally available from the state agricultural department. If it is up from last year then the farms are doing great and their must be plenty of labor. However I still say a survey of the farm workers to see if the wages they are offered have increased has got to be the gold standard. If the workers wages remain the same then their is no labor shortage. It is as simple as supply and demand. The market tells the whole story and it never lies.

July 10, 2012 at 1:01 am
(2) hastir says:

hi, It is a human tendency to move towards betterment.I think farmworkers has been stagnating for a long time ,so due to that they have moved to find that betterment ,consequent upon that there is shortage. Show them some light so can they find the return path.

July 10, 2012 at 11:58 am
(3) Heretic says:

Why work picking crops when they can just draw welfare and live like kings.

July 26, 2012 at 2:36 am
(4) Paul says:

Heretic — You are a disgusting idiot.

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