The Wall Street Journal offers "Immigration Non-Harvest" (PDF), which is designed to promote the AgJOBS amnesty. The tale is not to be taken seriously and is presented here only because it's so funny:
...This spring, labor shortages forced Michigan growers to leave asparagus rotting in the fields, while farmers in North Carolina lost nearly a third of their cucumber crop last year. They're growing fewer cukes this summer... Growers who can't find enough workers to pick cantaloupe and eggplant are already substituting row crops such as wheat, corn or soybeans that are more highly mechanized. The irony is that specialty crops are also the fastest-growing segment of agribusiness and the least subsidized by taxpayers. So the farm labor shortage could push growers toward government-subsidized crops that distort the world trading system...
Because, as we all know, illegal labor is completely free to the rest of us and isn't subsidized in any way.
...But a more heavily fortified southern border and government immigration raids have busted up this efficient North American labor market...
I would hope that most non-hack economists wouldn't consider a market that relies on massive political corruption to be a real market at all.
The resulting labor shortage is leading some employers to desperate measures. In upstate New York, dairy farmers have formed informal networks, so that when one farm is raided and loses workers, surrounding farms spare some of their own labor to help minimize the economic damage.
*cough* conspiracy charges *cough*
According to Tim Chelling of the Western Growers Association, whose 3,000 members in California and Arizona generate half of the nation's fresh produce, "there's a quiet exodus going on already, tens of thousands of acres and millions of dollars in economic activity."
Can he be trusted? Even if he's telling the truth should we really care? Could the exodus be a bit louder so we could show up to say good-bye to them?
If the U.S. can't import foreign workers to help harvest American farm products, the U.S. will have to import more foreign farm products harvested by foreign workers. Either that, or Americans will pay a lot more for fruits and vegetables as their supply shrinks. Blame Mr. Dobbs and Tom Tancredo the next time you're appalled by prices at the grocery.
I'm sure many of the readers of the WSJ have someone else do the shopping for them, and in any case no one who's serious thinks that restricting illegal labor would raise prices by any great amount. And, while there are certainly risks involved in importing food from other countries, perhaps moving production to where the cheap labor is rather than the other way around is the more natural and better way to do things.
Immigration2007a · Fri, 07/20/2007 - 11:12 · Importance: 4