December 15, 2011

Crops rotting in fields due to undocumented worker shortages

As all know from reading the newspapers, food in America would cost more per ounce than gold if we weren't lucky enough to have a constant stream of undocumented workers to do all the work. Without a vast influx of newcomers each year, our poor farmers would be ruined, ruined I tell you. It's economically, and perhaps biologically, impossible to grow food in America without an endless supply of semi-literate but highly fertile foreigners. 

As we also all know, the influx of undocumented workers is down in 2011 from the good old days, what with all the racist bigots refusing to pass amnesties and whatnot. It's probably that awful Sheriff Joe Arpaio's fault that famine stalks the land. Thank God Obama is going to get him before we all starve.

Therefore, mathematical logic proves that crops must be rotting in the fields and America's impoverished farmers must be packing up their Model T's and fleeing.

Except, as commenters have pointed out here, the farming business is enjoying a most lucrative 2011:
A new report shows it's been a good year to be a farmer in the USA. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says farm profits are expected to spike by 28 percent this year to $100.9 billion. Most farmers say they're using the extra cash to pay off debt and put some money aside. But, they're also investing in new tractors, combines and land.

You might almost think that the big agricultural interests have been, with the collusion of the press and the politicians, trying to mislead the public about just how essential a huge flow of uneducated peons is to America avoiding famine.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't we have an unemployment problem? Stop the welfare checks and send them to pick fruits.

Anonymous said...

Heads of cabbages rotting in fields because no illegals to pick them.

Heads of black kids rotting in cities because no superman teachers to enligthen them.

Dahinda said...

I live on a farm and I do all of my own labor! I have hired a few college kids from time to time to work for a day but that was just because they were in a club that wants different experiences like working on a farm. One of them was from Chile, but she was here legally!

Anonymous said...

I believe all the food is rotting in Alabama and almost all the food is rotting in Georgia. Arizona is already completely rotten and Sheriff Joe is forcing the illiterate, undocumented, people of color, Americans to wash his car at gunpoint.

AMac said...

The moral component of the "food rotting in the fields" argument is its most attractive facet.

"What an outrage that Saileresque do-gooders would force farmers to abide by wage and workplace laws! I'm entitled to the even-cheaper pints of strawberries that only wetback stoop labor can deliver."

Mel Torme said...

I hear tell that the Danish government expelled a lot of Mexicans who've been picking pecks of pickled peppers.

Wait a minute, (Mexicans??), something's rotten in Denmark!



Thanks, thanks, I'll unfortunately probably be here all week. Don't forget to tip your blogger (somebody's gotta).

Mel Torme said...

Oh, BTW, Steve, Pat Buchanan mentions you a number of times in his new book "Suicide of a Superpower". I don't mean just in the footnotes (though, there too).

I really think the guy's read your blog a good bit just from my general impression of this book. I'd be proud!

Reg C├Žsar said...

I have hired a few college kids from time to time to work for a day but that was just because they were in a club that wants different experiences like working on a farm. --Dahinda

I believe this was pioneered by Mao. One of his best ideas-- giving intellectuals a dose of their own medicine.

Anonymous said...

Massive importation of low wage Mexican agricultural laborers is really the new slavery.
Back in the 18th century the planters actually had to purchase slaves and pay to feed and care for them.Their labor force was a valuable commodity so they had to care for it.
In modern days, big-agri is blessed with the fact that there is asuperabundant, infinite and inexhaustible pool of labor itching, just itching to work for the farmer - for only the most token marhinal compensation, and the farmer's responsibility ends when the $6 per hour (which is trivial to him, his labradoodle costs more to keep) has been handed over.
Good God! - those top-hatted and top booted planters would have given their eye-teeth for such a system - just think absolute minimum of marginal payment to labor and absolutrly no opprobrium and denunciation from church leaders and 'gentle folk' calling you an evil bastard 24/7.
The good ol'fashioned supply and demand capitalist paradigm involving an absolute abundance of central Americans *competing with themselves* (this is the crucial point), ensures that laborer compensation will *never* be anything other than an utterly trivial expense (thus profitability maximized)for the farmer.
I doubt if heavily peopled 19th century Europe or China had such stark inequality between laborer and landlord - the point of the American experience is the labor tap is always open and inexhaustible.
The irony is that the American left is the biggest and most ferocious supporter of this paradigm.

DJF said...

"""'The irony is that the American left is the biggest and most ferocious supporter of this paradigm.""'

That is because the American left no longer thinks of itself as the American left but as the International left and so raising a Mexican or Chinese workers pay by a dollar a day is worth it even if it means that an American worker is unemployed or gets their wage cut by five dollars a hour or more.

The same applies to many who proclaim the new globalist "free market" economy from the right, they don't think of themselves as American, just as individuals in a globalist system. So them getting a toaster for a dollar cheaper is the greatest thing in the world even if an American loses their job. And even if that toaster was built in a factory owned by the Chinese government, transported in a ship owned by the Dubai government, the deal financed by the IMF, World Bank, Central Banks of China, Dubai, USA they will claim that its "free market" and anyone trying to stop this trade is evil.

Camlost said...

Steve, did you hear about the program that Georgia Gov Nathan Deal started?:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0611/56938.html#ixzz1PNteORmp

He tried to put paroled felons out in the fields to cover the supposed "shortage" of labor.

I think Alabama tried something similar.

I don't know what happened with the program, the MSM stopped reporting on the issue all of a sudden (probably because they knew that there was no truth to their doomsday predictions of mass starvation and rotting crops after Georgia adopted its stringent laws against illegal immigrants).

Anonymous said...

Back in the 18th century the planters actually had to purchase slaves and pay to feed and care for them.Their labor force was a valuable commodity so they had to care for it.


This is a really important point - nowadays they just foist* those costs off on the rest of us:


The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Immigrants to the U.S. Taxpayer
by Robert Rector and Christine Kim
May 21, 2007
heritage.org
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: ...A household's net fiscal deficit equals the cost of benefits and services received minus taxes paid. When the costs of direct and means-tested benefits, education, and population-based services are counted, the average low-skill household had a fiscal deficit of $19,588 (expenditures of $30,160 minus $10,573 in taxes)....


The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Households to the U.S. Taxpayer
April 4, 2007
by Robert Rector, Christine Kim and Shanea Watkins, Ph.D.
heritage.org
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: ...A household's net fiscal deficit equals the cost of benefits and services received minus taxes paid. If the costs of direct and means-tested benefits, education, and population-based services alone are counted, the average low-skill household had a fiscal deficit of $22,449 (expenditures of $32,138 minus $9,689 in taxes)...






*HELP ME JOHN DERBYSHIRE - I was going to say fob, but apparently it means something ever-so-slightly different than foist.

Rainforest Giant said...

Well I guess if they paid a living wage that didn't require you to live in a trailer with twenty other young men they might find Americans who would work the fields.

These are young men who spend every weekend drinking like they are going to die Monday morning and where fights, stabbings, rapes, and drugs are not the default recreation choices. Oh, and they don't speak English worth a damn.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

Massive importation of low wage Mexican agricultural laborers is really the new slavery."

Except illegal aliens are free to go home, whereas African slaves not so much. And if conditions are really that bad, illegal immigration would have stopped a long time ago, and white slave hunters would have to travel to Mexico to capture new slaves and force them to work in these agricultural Gulags with whippings, mutilations, torture, and rapes.

The two are analogous not at all. To do so would sully the memories of all those poor African slaves.

beowulf said...

I'll have to go back to the well with what economist Ha-Joon Chang wrote:

Wages in rich countries are determined more by immigration control than anything else, including any minimum wage legislation. How is the immigration maximum determined? Not by the 'free' labour market, which, if left alone, will end up replacing 80-90 per cent of native workers with cheaper, and often more productive, immigrants. Immigration is largely settled by politics. So, if you have any residual doubt about the massive role that the government plays in the economy's free market, then pause to reflect that all our wages are, at root, politically determined...
http://books.google.com/books?id=qUqoS7MTwPwC&pg=PA5&dq#v

Paul Mendez said...

Check out this report by UC Davis on economics of growing organic leaf lettuce:

http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu/files/lettuceleaforganiccc09.pdf

The cost to harvest a box of 24 heads of lettuce is $2.15, or about 9 cents a head. That assumes $10/wage and 35% "payroll overhead."

Also note that the cost of the box to pack the lettuce in is almost as much as the labor to fill it.

So, farmers could pay harvesters $20 per hour, and consumer would pay less than a dime more per head of organic leaf lettuce.

Anonymous said...

The crops are all in and the peaches are rott'ning,
The oranges piled in their creosote dumps;
They're flying 'em back to the Mexican border
To pay all their money to wade back again

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;
You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be "deportees"

-BWB (Not Woody Guthrie)

Anonymous said...

The point I was trying to mak was that the planters resorted to a slave labor force simply because they had no other alternative.
Basically, the USA was underpopulated at that time and a labor force working for wages could not be had at any price.This was the real rationale behind slavery - and it's too often forgotten day.The planters, the hard rapacious men that they were, were not deliberately intending to play the role of history's darkest villains, racially abusing captured Africans just for the hell of it, they purely and simply wanted a labor force and slavery was the only way they could get a labor force.
As I said earlier, ideally they would have loved to have a super abundant teeming workforce of free laborers who by competing with each othe could be hired at will for a trivial expense and then discarded.
In its own way today's big agra (supported by both political parties as it happens) is just as exploitative as the old time planters.
As to the point that 'they are free to go', technically yes, but it's the choice between starvation at home or exploitation in the USA.

Mel Torme said...

Paul Mendez: The economics of the harvesting labor costs are what I was trying to write about in that previous thread. This is a good point that you make, and, though I didn't read your linked .pdf, I would like to point out another thing.

This work is seasonal. That means that a bunch of labor is required for a short period of time, and this labor is of no use (except to a different employer growing different crops) at another time. So, after making the non-taxable $6/hr. these guys have to make it during the off times. Well, they've got free health care at the emergency room, EBT food cards, SSI, or a trip down to Mexico during the off season. That's not a bad deal for anyone ... oh yeah, except for the hard working American paying his taxes to support all of that.

To be able to do this work and make some type of living, even a single American would have to make a good bit more, as the work comes and goes.

This is not to argue against your main economic point, that the harvesting labor cost is not a large portion of the final product price (not insignificant either, but not enough to change the economics of American farming; no, the whole crop's not going to rot)

Anonymous said...

Sailer,

As all know from reading the newspapers, food in America would cost more per ounce than gold if we weren't lucky enough to have a constant stream of undocumented workers to do all the work. Without a vast influx of newcomers each year, our poor farmers would be ruined, ruined I tell you. It's economically, and perhaps biologically, impossible to grow food in America without an endless supply of semi-literate but highly fertile foreigners.

Lying about the benefits of undocumented immigration seems to be a way of life for some people.

Maybe one solution to this problem could be to make undocumented immigration illegal.

Silver

beowulf said...

"Maybe one solution to this problem could be to make undocumented immigration illegal."

Ha ha, like Congress would ever make illegal Americans illegal.

JayMan said...

But which crops? Some crops (e.g., fruits) are more dependent on manual harvesting than others. On top of that, we only have one state that has enacted an anti-illegal immigration law. So drawing conclusions about the effect of Alabama's law based on the state of agriculture as a whole is highly misleading.

Anonymous said...

As a commodities analyst, it's not lost on us that anhydrous ammonia prices are through the roof despite the input cost of natural gas haven fallen and stayed down. It's a demand thing. Farmers are flush.