Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Fewer Illegal Farmworkers Encourages Innovation, Higher Productivity in Agriculture

Patrick T. Fallon / AFP / Getty Images
President Donald Trump’s low-migration policies have helped push U.S. farms to invest in a “revolutionary” new generation of labor-saving, wage-enhancing farm robots, according to the New York Times.
Under the headline, “Illegal Immigration Is Down, Changing the Face of California Farms,” the newspaper wrote:
The new demographic reality has sent farmers scrambling to bring in more highly paid foreign workers on temporary guest-worker visas, experiment with automation wherever they can and even replace crops with less labor-intensive alternatives.

“Back in the day, you had people galore,” said Vanessa Quinlan, director of human resources at Sabor Farms.
“We are living on borrowed time,” said Dave Puglia, the president of the Western Growers trade association, a major farm lobby in the western United States. “I want half the produce harvest mechanized in 10 years — there’s no other solution,” he told the New York Times.
More automation and more robots mean that American workers and companies can get more work done in less time — and so earn higher wages for themselves and their families
But many specialty-crop producers — and Wall Street — are still hoping for a cheap-labor bailout from the feds. For example, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) owns an orchard and has pushed hard for the passage of the misnamed Farm Workforce Modernization Act. The legislation would give orchard owners access to far more low-wage migrant labor in exchange for allowing those migrant workers to get green cards and vote in subsequent elections.
For decades, the agriculture companies that produce fresh produce and specialty crops — apples, strawberries, raspberries, and asparagus, to name a few examples — were able to avoid investment in automation and instead rely on stoop labor. This policy was possible because the farm-community legislators, the federal government, and many left-wing progressives allowed them to employ an unlimited stream of illegal migrants.
The result is that some crops largely disappeared from U.S. fields as domestic producers were outcompeted by farms in Mexico with even cheaper labor. In Europe, where wages are much higher, European tech companies have developed a wide range of machines and robots to harvest their crops, such as asparagus and leeks:
But U.S. fresh-produce companies are still using stoop labor — often with cheerleading from Democrats:
U.S. farm companies are also losing market share to high-tech, urban “vertical farms” which grow produce in warehouses with artificial light:
In the last decade, farm companies have tried to delay the inevitable by importing many H-2A visa workers to minimize their labor costs.
But Democrats dislike the H-2A visa program because most of the workers go home without trying to become Democrat-voting citizens, so Democrats in D.C. and state capitals have allowed H-2A wages and benefits to rise far above the price of illegals. “We need real immigration reform in this country for a pathway to citizenship,” Labor Secretary Mary Walsh told a House committee on May 17. “Not H-2B visas, H-2A visas, not those visas — that’s not immigration.” --->READ MORE HERE
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