Farmers hollowed when laws followed

Drivers along the 5 Freeway through California's Central Valley are treated to signs saying, "Crops grow where water flows" or similar. Based on growers' support for illegal labor, perhaps they should consider throwing signs saying "Farmers hollowed when laws followed" into the mix.

From "Farmers say 'enforcement only' immigration will cripple industry" by Eunice Moscoso:
After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the government checked the background of every farm worker in Camp Pendleton, where tomatoes have been harvested since 1940.

As a result, most of the workers were fired for being in the United States illegally. And the company -- Harry Singh & Sons -- lost $2.5 million in rotted crops.

The same fate awaits farmers across the country if Congress enacts an enforcement-only immigration bill passed by the House, said Luawanna Hallstrom, general manager of the California tomato company [and co-chair of the National Council of Agricultural Employers]
Let me get this straight. There were illegal aliens working on a Marine Corps base, and I'm supposed to feel sorry for a company that was employing those illegal aliens? Is this a joke?

The article quotes not only Tamar Jacoby but a couple other growers who in effect admit employing illegal aliens. However, it does have some balance:
"Farmers moan and groan over what they allege is a shortage of legal agricultural workers. In fact, under current law, farmers can import an unlimited number of foreign ag workers using the H-2A visa," said Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., who heads a 104-member caucus pushing for stronger immigration controls. "Their true motive for breaking the law is that they want to reap maximum profit by paying substandard wages, not that there aren't enough workers."

Last year, less than 50,000 H-2A visas were issued, accounting for a small fraction of the nation's 1.6 million seasonal farm workers. Employers complain that the program is expensive, cumbersome, time-consuming and not practical.
Hallstrom is also quoted in "Ag leaders advocate guest-worker program":
...Fruit and vegetable production in San Diego County would drop by about 40 percent if a guest worker program is not included in legislation being hammered out in Congress, according to Eric Larson, executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau...

...A guest-worker program would allow an agricultural employer to legally bring in workers when there are not enough willing or available workers to take those jobs, according to Luawanna Hallstrom, co-chairwoman of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform and an officer of the National Council of Agricultural Employers...
Previous coverage of crops rotting in the fields starts here.


This is all part of the "rotting crops in the field" excuse. Remember recently a grape grower whined that if the US continued its crack-down at the border, he'd have to resort to mechanization. Yes, mechanization. You know, using labor-saving machines? The tax code offers sufficient incentives for AgBusinesses to move to mechanization, but it's cheaper to hire illegal aliens and then have the community at large subsidize them.

Japan has very low immigration and very high mechanization. Are US businesses really that much dumber than Japanese businessmen?

America would be a lot better off if such fruit and vegetable production dropped 40% or more, if we didn't have to pay for the next cohorts of illegals.
In the event, though, they would just switch to other crops.
No policy would just remove all the illegals in several months, so that planters would not have lead time to adjust their planting decisions.

It may be that certain sorts of farming are just not profitable in this area under present-day conditions. It is not important to me that Harry Singh & Sons continue to make the amount of money they're used to making in the way they're used to making it. If they planned on using illegal labor, then they made an unwise management decision, didn't they? The prisons are full of people who thought they shouldn't have to obey some law or other.