August 21, 2012

Oh, the humanity!

It never ends. From CNBC:
California Farm Labor Shortage 'Worst It's Been, Ever' 
By: Jane Wells

Actually, I think the proper punctuation is "Worst. Farm labor shortage. Ever."
There's a different sort of drought plaguing California, the nation's largest farm state. It's $38 billion agricultural sector is facing a scarcity of labor.

"This year is the worst it's been, ever," said Craig Underwood, who farms everything from strawberries to lemons to peppers, carrots, and turnips in Ventura County. 
Some crops aren't get picked this season due to a lack of workers. 
"We just left them in the field," he said. 
The Western Growers Association told CNBC its members are reporting a 20 percent drop in laborers this year. Stronger border controls are keeping workers from crossing into the U.S. illegally, and the current guest worker program is not providing enough bodies.  
"We have 100 fewer people this year," said Sergio Diaz, who provides workers under contract for growers. "We're having difficulty finding people to do this work." 
The lack of workers is forcing farmers to pay more.

Oh, the humanity! Those poor, poor farmers, having to pay their workers more.

Seriously, there's something Pavlovian about how effective for propaganda purposes is this mental image of "crops rotting in the fields" beloved by the PR people of the growers' associations. The reality is that the agriculture industry can't make use of every single vegetable or fruit grown, just as the lumber industry inevitably winds up with some unused sawdust. Each fruit or vegetable ripens at a slightly different time, and there are definite diminishing returns to paying for more picking sweeps through fields looking for optimally ripe ones. But, perhaps, humans have such folk memories of famines that we unthinkingly find horrifying the notion that profit maximizing farmers find it profit maximizing to not pick every single outlier, so we rush to meet their demands for more cheap immigrant labor.

Here's a question: You know how economists love to lecture non-economists about how the science of economics has proven that no such things as shortages can exist, absent price controls?

The Wikipedia article on "Economic shortage" explains:
In common use, the term "shortage" may refer to a situation where most people are unable to find a desired good at an affordable price. In the economic use of "shortage", however, the affordability of a good for the majority of people is not an issue: If people wish to have a certain good but cannot afford to pay the market price, their wish is not counted as part of demand.

And you know how economists are always making fun of articles quoting consumers complaining about shortages of stuff they want to buy but can't afford? Yet, these articles about the apocalyptic Farm Labor Shortage are an annual staple of journalism, but how many economists (other than labor economic specialists such as Borjas at Harvard or Martin at UC Davis) ever make fun of these boilerplate articles?

90 comments:

Anonymous said...

So 50 years of mass immigration hasn't solved the problem then?

Steve Sailer said...

Like Communism, mass illegal immigration hasn't failed, it just hasn't been tried hard enough!

JustAClown said...

interesting quote:
"The Western Growers Association told CNBC its members are reporting a 20 percent drop in laborers this year. Stronger border controls are keeping workers from crossing into the U.S. illegally, and the current guest worker program is not providing enough bodies. "


And this stricter border control is coming from ....obama? But all the paleo-con blogs are screaming that obama is ruining america with yet more mass immigration!

The fact is that although the Dems suck, they are better than the GOP, and, yes, better than the GOP on stopping mass immigration, too.

stari_momak said...

"And this stricter border control is coming from ....obama? But all the paleo-con blogs are screaming that obama is ruining america with yet more mass immigration!

The fact is that although the Dems suck, they are better than the GOP, and, yes, better than the GOP on stopping mass immigration, too."

I believe that the stricter border enforcement was put in place by Jorge II after his 2006 failure to shove amnesty down our throat.

stari_momak said...

Seventy percent 'Latino', largely rural Imperial County has a 29.9 percent unemployment rate.

This would seem to indicate that the wages the 'farmers' are willing to pay aren't high enough about the benefits doled out for staying home.

heartiste said...

it's a wonder that americans didn't starve to death when the country was 90% white and immigration was just a trickle!

Matt said...

The fact is that although the Dems suck, they are better than the GOP, and, yes, better than the GOP on stopping mass immigration, too

So how many million amnesties are we up to with this DREAM-by-fiat thing?

I don't kid myself, about 95% of R politicians are just awful on immigration. On the D side though, it's more like 100%.

ray said...

that land was to be entrusted to small farms and small farmers, so that americans could have self-sufficient, male-led families, each under "their own tree"

instead, it was gobbled up by greedy punks, and partitioned off in large tracts to the wealthy and politically connected ... who then spent the next century-plus underpaying "their" workers and amassing vast fortunes

so now the u.s. markets are ruled by middle/upper class women, spending money on themselves, families have no fathers, amerika is a police-state matriarchy, and the pore pore Growers Assn. cant find enough "laborers"

go out in "your" fields and pick it yourselves, you fatassed whiners

the land never belonged to you in the first place, it still doesnt, and it never will

Anonymous said...

Actually, the Dems are being pushed by hispanics groups and occupy wall street which really does have ties with commies. On one website Occupy Costa Mesa, a Mexican occuper refers to the international workers of the world. The far left see Mexicans and legalized Mexicans as the fulfillment of the revolution. One reason why Obama is legalizing some of them. Republicans bad but the Republicans are too much like what Lenin stated they will hang themselves by the illegal immigration.

Matthew said...

"The lack of workers is forcing farmers to pay more."

And this, you see, is what we call a labor shortage - farmers having to pay their workers more.

The price of oil rises due to demand? Why OF COURSE! oil companies are entitled to greater profits.

The price of hotels rise because of a major sporting event? Why OF COURSE! hotel owners are entitled to greater profits.

The price of homes rise due to increasing demand? Why OF COURSE! homebuilders are entitled to greater profits.

Never expect these die-hard free market or die, libertarian, Ayn Randian, "Who's John Galt" capitalists to pay more for labor BECAUSE DEMAND HAS INCREASED.

They who obsess about their own property rights will undermine the property rights of Americans to our country and flood us with outsiders who will work for far less under worse conditions.

Anonymous said...

The lack of workers is forcing farmers to pay more.



Dear Lord! The invisible hand of the marketplace is forcing ... FORCING! ... these poor farmers to pay more for labor.

Anonymous said...

JustAClown said...And this stricter border control is coming from ....obama?


There is no "stricter border control, my aptly named friend. I suppose you'll be telling me next that you believe there is a "labor shortage" as well.

Anonymous said...

I guess I need to post this again.


"Americans spend relatively little on food, and relatively little of what they spend represents the cost of farm workers.

Even when packing costs for fresh produce are negligible — strawberries are packed directly into the containers in which they are sold, and iceberg lettuce gets its film wrapper in the field — farmers and farm workers receive only a small share of the grocery store sticker price. In 2006, farmers received an average of 30 percent of the retail price of fresh fruits and 25 percent of the retail price of fresh vegetables, so consumer expenditures on fresh produce meant $118 to the farmer. Farm labor costs are typically less than a third of farm revenue for fresh fruits and vegetables, meaning that farm worker wages and benefits for fresh fruits and vegetables cost the average household $38 a year.

Consumers who pay $1 for a pound of apples are giving 30 cents to the farmer and 10 cents to the farm worker; those spending $2 for a head of lettuce are giving 50 cents to the farmer and 16 cents to the farm worker.

If the influx of immigrant workers were slowed or stopped and farm wages rose, what would happen to expenditures on fresh fruits and vegetables? A case study from 1966 could give us some idea.

That year, the United Farm Workers union won a 40 percent wage increase for some table grape harvesters, largely because the end of the Bracero program had cut off a supply of Mexican workers. The average earnings of U.S. field workers were $10.07 an hour in 2009, according to a U.S.D.A. survey of farm employers. If pressure to verify employees’ legal status resulted in a labor crisis similar to the one in 1966 and a similar 40 percent wage increase, average hourly earnings would rise to $14.10. If this were passed on to consumers, the 10 cent farm labor cost of a pound of apples would rise to 14 cents, and the $1 retail price would rise to $1.04.

For a typical household, a 40 percent increase in farm labor costs translates into a 3.6 percent increase in retail prices. If farm wages rose 40 percent, and this wage increase were passed on to consumers, average spending on fresh fruits and vegetables would rise about $15 a year, the cost of two movie tickets. However, for a typical seasonal farm worker, a 40 percent wage increase could raise earnings from $10,000 for 1,000 hours of work to $14,000 — lifting the wage above the federal poverty line."

Anonymous said...

humans have such folk memories of famines
Those memories are relegated to the dust bowl, every time we hear a gas-powered leaf blower, or any company we do business with asking us to "Prrrress Uno por English". Let the lettuce rot.

stari_momak said...

The ironic thing is that Craig Underwood seems to run 'Underwood Farms' , a 'sustainable' agricultural outfit that has Pick Your Own (PYO) days. SWPLs can head out this weekend (Labor Day!) and pick their own Roma Toms.

http://www.underwoodfamilyfarms.com/

There's contact info there --maybe Craig can answer a few questions, like how 'sustainable' for California it is to import an immigrant household and pay them $40,000 a year, when their average 3 kids in school will cost at least $300,000 to 'educate' over K-10.

Anonymous said...

Well, actually, the libertarians who opposed fraud are violating their own rules against frauds since the illegal immigrants have stolen id cards Social Security cards that belong to someone else usually a kid. So, a true free market system would not hire illegal immigrants since they committed fraud to get the job.

JustAClown said...

obama deported more illegals than bush and he is keeping out illegals better than bush.

The dems/obama still suck because of the race-spoils regime and anti-white propaganda, but in almost every other way, better than bush/GOP

Anonymous said...

obama deported more illegals than bush and he is keeping out illegals better than bush.

You're doubling down on the stupidity. None of that is true.

elvisd said...

Young white people will pick fruit for cheap if you call them an "intern".

JustAClown said...

why has there been no straight-up numerical comparison of illegals arrested and deported re: obama vs bush? Hmm? Vdare and steve and the other paleocon outfits do not seem interested in a numerical comparison. I wonder why.....

Anonymous said...

it's a wonder that americans didn't starve to death when the country was 90% white and immigration was just a trickle!

Gee, imagine white 14-year-old tards picking fruit and other constructive labours, rather than vegetating in schools where they don't/can't/won't learn a bloody thing.

Anonymous said...

The state with one third of the nation's welfare recipients also has a labor shortage? If only there were some way to address this dual curse of fate!

Anonymous said...

I heard that cheap illegal labor prevented the American farms of being more mechanized and hurted innovation, but I don't know if its true...

gummex said...

We got so many people on welfare doing nothing. Why not make them pick fruit if they want benefits?
Oh, but then, the idea of Negroes picking fruit and veggies is too evocative of sharecropping days. So, I guess we just gotta let them live on welfare or we gotta create government jobs for them(and prop up a vast non-productive and parasitic black 'middle class'.) As for children of Mexicans who came here long ago, they've decided to bum off welfare too, and since they are also American citizens, it's just wrong for us to expect them to do such lowly menial labor. So, bring in more Mexicans to do the stuff.

Btw, I hear unemployment among Somali-Americans and Ethiopian-Americans run around 80%. Why not make them do some work like picking fruit? I mean they are recent African arrivals and so there isn't any 'cotton-picking share-cropping' stigma attached to them doing the work.

Does SWPL-thinking run like: blacks are too wonderful and precious to be doing such lowly labor. Blacks should be working in government or do creative stuff like music making(or playing sports).
So, if we need mediocre people to pick fruits, bring in the Mexicans.

Auntie Analogue said...

--> elvisd: Your comment cracked me up!


Since the U.S. now has extensive and intensive prohibitions on commercial ocean fishing - because industrialzed fishing methods have pressed many pelagic species toward extinction or to unhealthy levels for the health of fish species, why not put all those unemployed American fishermen to work picking produce? They won't even have to cut bait!

Why not round up all those unemployed Occupy stooges with their otherwise un-hirable Humanities baccalaureates - you know, all those Friends Of International Workers Of The World - and give them jobs picking produce?

Anonymous said...

Believe me, farmers are the cheapest guys out there. They just don't want to pay a decent wage to people. This is the true cause of the so-called "labor shortage". At its historical cheapest, agricultural working was supplied by slavery.

Anonymous said...

"I heard that cheap illegal labor prevented the American farms of being more mechanized and hurted innovation, but I don't know if its true..."

Well you could look at modern examples of capital using fruit picking operations in Australia and Europe, as compared with America. Or you could look at the historical examples from the 1960s, of the braceros program, after which the tomato growers mechanized, produced more, and lowered the price. Or you could look at the 1860s, where wheat was harvested in the north and west by the McCormick mechanical reaper, as opposed to cotton that was picked by hand at the time. And hopefully everyone here knows how that last one turned out. There are probably examples even further back then that if one cared to look.

Anonymous said...

"There are probably examples even further back then that if one cared to look."

The Black Death caused a labor shortage that lead to the adoption of all kinds of labor saving devices and, incidentally, helped bring about the demise of feudalism in much of Europe.

If farmers really needed they could, ya know, lobby state legislatures and Congress to create a system whereby a very large portion of unskilled potential laborers sat around at harvest time for weeks with nothing to do except, say, play Nintendo or something, and farmers could convince at least some of them to journey into the fields to earn money.

But where where we could find a large group of unskilled people that is unoccupied during the summer months I have no idea.

Harry Baldwin said...

Here's what I don't understand about amnesty for illegal aliens: If, as GWB said, illegal Mexican immigrants do the jobs that Americans won't do, why do we want to make them Americans? Once they're Americans, who's going to do the work? (I know, I know, the next bunch of Mexicans.)

Eric said...

Gah! These people piss me off. The same media outlets complaining about poor farm workers who don't make much money turn around and print stories about labor shortages. I guess it just proves they don't teach economics in j-school.

Anonymous said...

"Btw, I hear unemployment among Somali-Americans and Ethiopian-Americans run around 80%. Why not make them do some work like picking fruit? I mean they are recent African arrivals and so there isn't any 'cotton-picking share-cropping' stigma attached to them doing the work."

There job is making America more diverse.

Anonymous said...

So many young people are out of work. Mao sent young people down to the villages during the Cultural Revolution to make them get closer to the 'people' and to learn the dignity of labor.

So, maybe the neo-Maoist PC lords should take all the young kids without jobs and send them to pick fruit. Obama talks of 'national service' or whatever. Okay, send the kids down to pick some fruits.
Since fruits are even worthy of marriage today, maybe young people should get closer to them.

Matthew said...

"Young white people will pick fruit for cheap if you call them an "intern"."

Especially if you fly them to the Central Valley and convince them it's Guatemala. Given the ethnic makeup of the Central Valley now it shouldn't be too difficult.

Eric said...

We got so many people on welfare doing nothing. Why not make them pick fruit if they want benefits?

You'd have a riot on your hands if you tried that. The legislature actually tried something like that in California decades ago... I think the plan was to send them out picking up trash along the highways. Not exactly hard labor, and we already have lots of vests and porta-potties because that's what you end up doing if you get caught with drugs or driving under the influence.

The howls of indignation were deafening, both from the layabouts (led by their community organizers) and also from the public sector unions. Apparently the unions were worried the welfare people could be taught to lean on a shovel and take someone's job.

Of course in the end the courts put a stop to it.

Matthew said...

"We got so many people on welfare doing nothing. Why not make them pick fruit if they want benefits?"

After those tornadoes rolled through Alabama, the Obama Administration managed to get the rate of food stamp use in that state up to about 30%. This was around the same time that Alabama's new immigration law was going into force and farmers were complaining about...you guessed it..."crops rotting in the fields" for want of labor.

We have a $1.2 trillion budget deficit. We have a workforce participation rate lower than it has ever been probably in the history of the country. It's about time we stopped paying people to sit around on their asses. They wanna starve, then let 'em.

Beecher Asbury said...

I heard that cheap illegal labor prevented the American farms of being more mechanized and hurted innovation, but I don't know if its true...

I believe this is true and not just for agriculture. I've always liked the little skid-steer loaders one sees at construction sites. Does anyone believe the US would have invented this machine in the 1950s if there were hundreds of illegals standing around day labor centers?

I doubt it. It was the shortage of labor at that time which led to higher labor wages which led to mechanization. Just think if the immivasion had occurred a couple of decades earlier, we might not ever have gotten the Bobcat.

Anonymous said...

Well, what makes me mad is someone at national review talking about you illegal hispanics going to work while young whites and black are into OCCupy. There are plenty of Mexicans in OCcupy too and many of them are the children and grandchildren of illegal immigrants and they also are involved in LA Raza, the Brown Berets and so forth. Its that whites and black are lazy but Mexicans work. In fact hispanic youth are probably less likely to be employed than white youth since they join gangs more. Tell that to National Review.

epobirs said...

Low level agricultural is very seasonal. Shocking, I know.

The biggest thing that has affected the availability of laborers is the economy in general, far more than any overt effort by government to control movements across the border. A considerable number of illegals have self-deported because they can scrape by in their home village more readily than they can in the US if there isn't enough work year round. Thus the farmers in Ventura come up short when they have the need.

Perhaps they should make deals with local fleabag motels and bus down underemployed illegals from the Central Valley area where fields have gone fallow for lack of water. But would add to the cost of the workers, too.

Mr. Anon said...

"JustAClown said...

why has there been no straight-up numerical comparison of illegals arrested and deported re: obama vs bush? Hmm? Vdare and steve and the other paleocon outfits do not seem interested in a numerical comparison. I wonder why....."

Illegal immigration has abated somewhat because the economy is depressed and, to a certain extent, because state and local governments have taken actions to make them unwelcome - like seizing the vehicles of people without licenses.

In terms of enforcement, the Obama administration is - like the Bush administration before it - a disaster.

Greenidge said...

Journailists and collectivists (but I repeat myself) love a few things above all others: gun control, subsidized illegitimacy, profligate social spending of every other sort, urban thugs, tax increases ad infinitum, sneering at employed non urban Americans, and spending billions (if not trillions) per annum abroad. Illegal immigration promotes all of these objectives. Moreover, environmental extemism becomes more appealing as America becomes less like the nation my parents came to, (legally) and more like a giant shantytown.

Truth said...



"why has there been no straight-up numerical comparison of illegals arrested and deported re: obama vs bush? Hmm?"

Oh, but there is.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/18/deportations-customs-remove-record-number_n_1018002.html

Anonymous said...

Great post Steve.

Another point is that the heavily hispanic areas of California's 'inland empire' agricultural heartland have the highest, most persistant and intractable unemployment rates in the whole of the USA. Basically the hispanics who populate these towns are qualified for nothing except grunt agricultural labor, but for som reason, it's a job they refuse to do.
- Why let facts get in the way of a good piece of immigrationist propaganda?

Unanimous said...

The people who worry about "crops rotting in the fields" are the same personalities that force kids to "clean their plate." Nice White Ladies.

Aaron B. said...

I'm supposed to get my agricultural and immigration news from someone who can't keep "its" and "it's" straight? I take it the CNBC editors were all busy at ESL class.

sideways said...

Me, I'm more bothered by the improper use of "it's" and "aren't get picked"

I expect journalists to be idiots, but I also expect them to be passable writers

Aaron B. said...

I've said it before, but: these are not farms; they are factories. They just happen to produce their product outside in the dirt instead of inside a large building. But in every other way, they are factories.

Where I live in the Midwest, our factory farms grow corn and soybeans instead of fruit and vegetables, and the work is done with machines. Here, fruit that falls on the ground is called "seconds," and people go buy it at a cheaper rate for making pies and applesauce and other preserves. It all gets used, and Americans (even kids!) still do the work. That can happen when you have small family orchards -- real farms -- producing for the local area, instead of huge factory operations producing for millions of people far away. The factory has to get that food out of the ground and shipped away as fast and as cheaply as possible, which means it needs more temp labor than the local area can naturally provide. Higher wages are part of the answer, but paying millions of Americans enough to go work in California for a couple months in the summer isn't really a sustainable solution either (though it seems like it could work for college students). The real solution is to stop growing food in factories.

Anonymous beat me to the rest of my usual rant, but he's right on the money: the labor cost of food is a tiny percentage of your grocery bill. Clip a couple coupons, and you'll cover the cost of doubling farm worker wages.

Anonymous said...

LA schools only graduate half of their students. Certainly some of the dropouts can be trained to do ag work.

Kylie said...

Aaron B.: "Where I live in the Midwest, our factory farms grow corn and soybeans instead of fruit and vegetables..."

I live not too far from you, on the edge of a small river town. I find the pleasure of living so near fields of growing things is greatly diminished by the knowledge that these aren't "farms" in the traditional sense but "agribusinesses".

Kylie said...

"We got so many people on welfare doing nothing. Why not make them pick fruit if they want benefits?"

Are you kidding no question mark.

We live in a society in which food stamps, in their recognizable booklets, were deemed too demeaning and replaced with "dignity cards". DWLs wanted to strip the "stigma" from being on "government assistance" (formerly known as "the dole"). When living in a neighborhood in which many, if not most, were on some form of assistance and food stamps were ubiquitous, I never once saw anyone receiving such assistance express one iota of shame, embarrassment, discomfort or guilt for accepting government hand-outs. On the contrary, they were all, without exception, proud of getting something for nothing. Food stamp usage, far from being something that conferred a stigma, was seen as a mark of intelligence in claiming their "right" to purchase food on somebody else's dime.

Social stigmas of that sort are examples of invariably DWL thinking; the underclass doesn't bother with them. The switch from food stamps to dignity cards only confirmed the underclass's already firm belief that it is entitled to something for nothing.

Dutch Boy said...

Speaking of foreign labor, I just took a vacation to several National Parks and discovered that a considerable part of the workforce is young foreigners (e.g., Jamaica, Moldova, Belarus, Turkey). Why is the gov allowing foreigners to be hired for such jobs in the middle of a depression (as if I didn't know)? Incidentally, the Moldovan girl was shocked that I not only knew where Moldova was but also something of its history (Americans being geographical ignoramuses in general).

Anonymous said...

When the Huffington Post says something, you know it's true. The Huffington Post - Where America Turns For Hard News!

Obama has indeed done something about illegal immigration - he has given America the worst economy since the Great Depression.

The Obama administration changed the definition of "deported" to include all the people stopped at the border, not just people who are actually deported via the legal process. It's rather like the way we are supposed to rate Obama's economic policy on the basis of how many jobs were created or saved.

Partisan hacks like "Truth" can always be depended on to recite the party talking points.

Anonymous said...

" how 'sustainable' for California it is to import an immigrant household and pay them $40,000 a year, when their average 3 kids in school will cost at least $300,000 to 'educate' over K-10."

$300k is the cost to educate ONE child in California.

http://www.calwatchdog.com/2010/08/20/lausd-spends-30k-per-student/

Anonymous said...

We got so many people on welfare doing nothing. Why not make them pick fruit if they want benefits?


The question assumes that the supposed "shortage" of fruit pickers actually exists. And it does not.

Personally, if we were going to make anybody pick fruit (which would be un-constitutional) I'd rather force the banksters and lawyers to do it. Not only would we get fruit out of the deal, we'd lose their current economically disastrous contributions to the American economy.

Anonymous said...


Believe me, farmers are the cheapest guys out there. They just don't want to pay a decent wage to people. This is the true cause of the so-called "labor shortage". At its historical cheapest, agricultural working was supplied by slavery.


My mother can attest to this. She grew up on a farm and remarked that the Germans didn't have slaves because they used their children as slaves.

Anonymous said...

""There are probably examples even further back then that if one cared to look."

The Black Death caused a labor shortage that lead to the adoption of all kinds of labor saving devices and, incidentally, helped bring about the demise of feudalism in much of Europe."

Ah I'd forgotten about the principle catalyst of the European Miracle.

" Well, what makes me mad is someone at national review talking about you illegal hispanics going to work while young whites and black are into OCCupy. There are plenty of Mexicans in OCcupy too and many of them are the children and grandchildren of illegal immigrants and they also are involved in LA Raza, the Brown Berets and so forth. Its that whites and black are lazy but Mexicans work. In fact hispanic youth are probably less likely to be employed than white youth since they join gangs more. Tell that to National Review." - Nothing probably about it, the government tracks these statistics for youth employment: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/youth.t01.htm

depending on either participation rate of their unemployment rate either whites or asians come out ahead.

Anonymous said...

Truth, what is your take on illegal immigration?

Matthew said...

One aspect of ag policy in this country is that food stamps are considered a program of the US Department of Agriculture. This is because ag subsidies and food stamps are the result of a compromise between rural interests - who want subsidies, price supports, etc. - and urban ones, who want welfare benefits for poor city dwellers.

One result is that the food stamp program keeps unskilled Americans from working, including on farms. So the farm labor shortage is a result of agricultural policy, and welfare policy in general.

Anonymous said...

"I've said it before, but: these are not farms; they are factories. They just happen to produce their product outside in the dirt instead of inside a large building."

Yes...and no. Two major differences: that most factories operate year-round, on schedules not related to the seasons, and thus have a regular, year-round workforce; and also that many factories require laborers with some amount of training.

Farms don't need harvesters year-round, often don't even get the same ones from year to year, and the job requires the most minimal of skill. The result is that there is little personal relationship between the farmer and his employees, and that there isn't much incentive to hire people with skills. That is why the price of farm labor always likes to get as close to slavery as legally possible.

Truth said...

"Truth, what is your take on illegal immigration?"

I wrote an article entitled "Truth's Immigration Policy" on my blog.

Truth said...

"When the Huffington Post says something, you know it's true. The Huffington Post - Where America Turns For Hard News!...Partisan hacks like "Truth" can always be depended on to recite the party talking points."

How about a conservative PAC like American Principles in Action Are they "Partisan Hacks" also?

BTW: I've never voted for a Democrat for president, including Barry.


Anonymous said...

So Steve, is the dream act moving tens of thousands of farm laborers into restaurant laborers. Cheap food prep without top notch ingredients is worthless.

Jehu said...

I wrote on this topic a while back, considering the likely impact of a tighter farm labor market.
http://chariotofreaction.blogspot.com/2011/12/without-illegal-immigrants-to-pick.html
You might find it interesting or useful material to mine.

Anonymous said...

Truth writes "farm work is tough, physical, painful work"



All work used to be tough, physical, painful work. The only reason why farm work is still tough, physical, painful work is that we supply farmers with low-cost labor. Force the cost of farm labor to rise and farmers will do what the rest of the world did in the 20th century - they'll discover the virtues of automation.

Anonymous said...

a conservative PAC like American Principles in Action


Look's like they are disciples of Harry Jaffa. Neo-cons, in other words.

Anonymous said...

"I just took a vacation to several National Parks and discovered that a considerable part of the workforce is young foreigners (e.g., Jamaica, Moldova, Belarus, Turkey). Why is the gov allowing foreigners to be hired for such jobs in the middle of a depression (as if I didn't know)?"

An amazing statistic leaped out as I prepared to teach tomorrow’s class. “Forestry and conservation workers” is the second most common job for H-­2B temporary seasonal workers. More than 12,000 certifications were granted by the Department of Labor last year.

Hence, the illustrious Forest Rangers have been replaced by temporary seasonal workers. Anyone care to lay a bet as to how many of those 12,000 were female?"

Matthew said...

I quote the inimitable Tom Lehrer:
"Should Americans pick crops?
George says "no."
'Cause no one but a Mexican would stoop so low,
And after all even in Egypt, the pharaohs,
Had to import Hebrew braceros."

Tom, a diehard liberal, was singing about actor/Republican senator George Murphy. Lehrer sang that in 1965. Since then liberals have done a complete 180 on mass immigration and its downward effect on wages. They're happy with it.

Truth said...

It depends on what type of farm. There is not a lot of labor dependency for a 10,000 acre GMO grain farm, such as corn, alfalfa or wheat, in which all harvesting can be done with modern equipment, but the organic market is totally different.

A certified organic farmer cannot use chemicals; these include chemicals to kill bugs, weeds, or help fortify the soil, therefore, the acreage must be hoed, picked, and harvested daily. this is extremely labor intensive. I asked an ex-girlfriend who ran an organic farm about finding labor and she said that labor was the cause of insolvency for most small farmers; people just don't want to work outside anymore.

She said that occasionally she gets a young white boy 18-21 who wants to work on a farm "for the experience" and they generally quit after half a day of their first callouses, hot New Mexico sun, mosquito bites and swinging a scythe, or a hoe, or digging fenceposts, for an hour and a half straight.

Even for people who gut it out, she says it is at least two weeks before there have built up the muscles, resolve and strength to earn their pay.

Anonymous said...

"Even for people who gut it out, she says it is at least two weeks before there have built up the muscles, resolve and strength to earn their pay."

Two whole weeks, eh? In many businesses its months before a worker "earns his pay."

No, Truth - the problem is that farmers and ranchers have no incentive to pay their laborers better or treat them better, so they don't. The question is: who would want to work outside, doing that kind of work, for that kind of pay? Only people coming from a country where that kind of pay amounts to a gigantic raise.

Truth said...

How much would someone have to pay you to pick vegetables, dig fence posts, and irrigation ditches, stomp squash bugs and scythe weeds, while being eaten alive by mosquitoes in 98 degree weather?

stari_momak said...

Hey Pravda

Here are SWPLs that will work *for free* on organic farms. I actually know a young dude from California that did it for two months, albeit in Cataluña.

Oh, and here is a storyabout a bunch of (apparently) mostly white hippies whose farm was shut down by California labor regulators, because they were unpaid.

Tell you what, though, if we were getting more immigrants that looked like this, I'd have less of a problem with the phenomenon.

Kylie said...

"How much would someone have to pay you to pick vegetables, dig fence posts, and irrigation ditches, stomp squash bugs and scythe weeds, while being eaten alive by mosquitoes in 98 degree weather?"

That would depend on whether or not that "someone" looks like a young Harry Belafonte....





Just kidding!

Jehu said...

Truth,
Ever seen the show 'Dirty Jobs'?
Most of those are done by white people. They're dirty, unpleasant, and often dangerous, but they also generally pay well.
Illegal immigration denies farm workers the dirty/dangerous/drudgery premium that they should command.

Aaron B. said...

It's going to be 95 and humid here today, and the garbagemen will be going around town picking up garbage. These will be middle-class Americans. Is that because it's an easy, pleasant, or exciting job? No, it's because it pays damn well, because they've used city government, nepotism, and unionism to protect their jobs and keep wages very high for a job anyone with at least three working limbs could do.

Farm work is harder, but that just means it needs to pay more. I've probably told this story here before, but: my folks are small farmers, and my dad never had trouble finding teenage kids to work for him, even doing brutal work like baling hay in July, because he paid well -- about twice minimum wage, as I recall. Other farmers complained that kids wouldn't work "these days," that they all wanted to go work at McDonald's. But those farmers wanted to pay what they were paid in the 50s. My dad paid better than McDonald's, and he had kids calling and asking if he needed help.

Pay fruit pickers $20/hour plus benefits, and Americans will pick fruit. As a result, the price of fruit *might* go up 10% in the store; probably not even that much.

Truth said...

stari_momak;

There is a shortage of QUALIFIED people who will work for free in ANY field. Other than porn, what job would you do 2 months for free? My friend informs me that she gets people who want to "experience the farm lifestyle", but most are useless and don't last. No matter what you are describing, if someone is giving it away free, there's a problem with it.

Jehu:

The cost of labor at a CORPORATE farm is negligible. at a 9 acre organic farm, there is a totally different economic. The main criticism of organic produce now is that the goods are two expensive. add a few more dollars per pound and you cannot be competitive in the marketplace.

Mr. Anon said...

"Truth said...

How about a conservative PAC like American Principles in Action Are they "Partisan Hacks" also?

Yes, they are partisan hacks. They're a PAC. And the fact that an organization calls itself conservative doesn't make it so. That PAC is making appeals to "La Raza" on behalf of the Republican party - that's not what I would call "conservative".

"Truth" probably believed what they claimed on their website - that they are "conservative" - because he is a journalist, so he's used to not checking anything, and because it comports with his biases.

He still has not learned that there is a difference between "conservative" and "Republican" (as in party affiliation).

And for a guy who didn't vote for Barry, it's odd he can always be counted upon to stick up for him. In fact, he often shows up here for the express purpose of defending him.

Anonymous said...

Well, the hippie farmers should have been supported by the libertarians and conservatives since both groups are against government regulations but I bet the rest of the political philosophy is why the right was not interested in supporting them.

Anonymous said...

That's true but you can work in factories that require little skilled as well. Most garment work was done in LA since it used a lot of illegal immigrant labor. Also, years ago I work some factory work in Orange County where no experience was needed and about 90 percent of the workforce was Mexican women this was in 1979.

Anonymous said...

Well, most of the illegal immirgants under the dream act live in LA County or Orange County where there is little farm work. They are already doing restaurant jobs.

Anonymous said...

Another things the rise of the tea party changed Republicans back to being against taxes and regulation and Obama care. Sometimes it was a free market without much regulation including not getting rid of illegal immigration. I know that a lot of the tea party doesn't like illegal immigration but some are against using e-verify because it doesn't allow business to hire who they want.

Anonymous said...

A certified organic farmer cannot use chemicals; these include chemicals to kill bugs, weeds, or help fortify the soil, therefore, the acreage must be hoed, picked, and harvested daily.


That makes zero sense. There is no connection between chemicals and machinery. A farm can opt to not spray chemicals and still use machinery to till the soil and harvest the crops.


I asked an ex-girlfriend who ran an organic farm about finding labor and she said that labor was the cause of insolvency for most small farmers


There you go - Truth asked an ex-girl-friend and now he's the resident expert on farming!


occasionally she gets a young white boy 18-21

What, no 18-21 year old "black boys"?

Your cartoon racism aside, you completely ignored the point. The reason why farms still use a lot of unskilled labor is because our government provides them with a lot of unskilled labor at below-market prices. Take away that labor pool and farmers will do what they did when slavery was ended - they'll find a better and cheaper way of getting the same job done.

Anonymous said...

How much would someone have to pay you to pick vegetables, dig fence posts, and irrigation ditches, stomp squash bugs and scythe weeds, while being eaten alive by mosquitoes in 98 degree weather?


The question illustrates your economic illiteracy. And your racism, of course, but that's hardly worth commenting on any more, is it?

Anonymous said...

Well, the Cigarette tax shown an interesting trend, a lot of the hispanic population that was Mexican left since the inland empire about 4 years ago was to the left of Orange County, it voted for Obama but now it opposed the tax at 62 percent while Orange County doing better in jobs for illegals and lost less illegal immigration opposed at 58 percent. According to the times, Van Nuys lost Mexicans and gains Central Americans. La slightly voted against the Cigarette tax which is good news since its the county which gives the dems the most votes and maybe slightly less in the future.

Anonymous said...

if it wasn't for minimum wage, and welfare, there would be no problem find domestic workers to pick those crops.

Anonymous said...

I never worked the good paying factory work tht Pat Buchanan talk about, So, the outsourcing is not as important to me, When I lived in Orange County most of the factory work outside of the aerospace firms was work by Mexicans and this was way back from 1979 to 1996 the last time I did factory work. If I was a machinists I probably would have a different view.

Truth said...


"Truth" probably believed what they claimed on their website - that they are "conservative"

Oh I don't know grasshopper, although a quick persual of their website indicates such "ultra-liberal" causes as:

-ACLU Waging Misinformation Campaign Against South Carolina Schools.

-Democrats’ Marriage Plank and Religious Liberty

-Is the Government Forcing Catholics to Sin?

-Louisiana Teachers’ Union Bullies Private Schools

-Juicy Nugget: Chick-Fil-A Takes Brave Stand in Fight Over Gay Marriage

-Think Progress Admits Religious Liberty Should Be Trampled by Gay Marriage

http://www.americanprinciplesinaction.org/

I'm sure their checks to Barbara Lee Bernie Sanders, and Dennis Kucinich will be arriving any day now!

Truth said...

"That makes zero sense. There is no connection between chemicals and machinery. A farm can opt to not spray chemicals and still use machinery to till the soil and harvest the crops."

Not if you are on a 20-acre plot of land in which you harvest many different crops. The machines are expensive and designed to harvest ONE VARIETY of crop.

"And for a guy who didn't vote for Barry, it's odd he can always be counted upon to stick up for him. In fact, he often shows up here for the express purpose of defending him."

For the 8,000,000th time, Sport, I am not a fan of any puppet politician, and the only thing I defend is common sense.

"What, no 18-21 year old "black boys"?"

Too young to vote is a "boy" at my age, Sport.

Truth said...

"How much would someone have to pay you to pick vegetables, dig fence posts, and irrigation ditches, stomp squash bugs and scythe weeds, while being eaten alive by mosquitoes in 98 degree weather?


The question illustrates your economic illiteracy. And your racism, of course, but that's hardly worth commenting on any more, is it?"

I guess not, seeing as how the "racism" in my statement just jumps out with both feet!

Severn said...

Too young to vote is a "boy" at my age, Sport.


I don't know what country you live in, "sport", but here is the US of A people can vote at age 18. So once again your remarks are somewhere in the intersection of stupid and incomprehensible.

Mr. Anon said...

"Truth said...

For the 8,000,000th time, Sport, I am not a fan of any puppet politician, and the only thing I defend is common sense."

Yeah, you just only ever put in a good word for black ones, Spuge.

Anonymous said...

"if it wasn't for minimum wage, and welfare, there would be no problem find domestic workers to pick those crops."

I get the part about welfare, but what do you mean about minimum wage? Are you implying that Americans would do the work if it paid less? Or perhaps that less demanding jobs pay more (i.e., the minimum wage) and so Americans don't pick fruit?

I'd argue neither. The minimum wage overall is a good thing. Without it, businesses would be creating even more jobs "that Americans won't do" - "Well damnit, folks, I can't find any Americans willing to wipe bums for $0.25 an hour. We have to fill these jobs somehow - better import a million Somalis!"

In a more idealistic world where tax policy wasn't being ever changed to favor the rich (35% top rate for income from labor vs. only 15% top rate for income from investments), and where immigration policy wasn't effectively open borders, I'd be all in favor of eliminating the minimum wage. But that world doesn't exist.