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Agrigeddon! WSJ says fewer cukes being grown this year

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

Fri, 07/20/2007 - 22:06
Nelson

Personally, I think laziness is the best and most efficent policy a US citizen can have toward immigration. If we just opened up our gates and made it perfectly legal for Mexicans to pick our crops, we'd save a ton of money on enforcement, raids, politicians, talk shows, etc... and have cheaper food to boot.

Sat, 07/21/2007 - 06:57
Horace

As has been done with cotton, wheat, barley, corn and numerous other crops since the beginning of our nation, most crops will be amenable to mechanical harvesting, given the incentive to develop the appropriate machines. The availability of cheap labor has been a disincentive to engineering such devices. Adios to Manuel Labor.

Sat, 07/21/2007 - 10:11
D Flinchum

"most crops will be amenable to mechanical harvesting" Absolutely right, Horace, but not until we stop allowing the AgBiz to use cheap foreign labor, often illegal, to tend and harvest crops. It's much cheaper to use, abuse, and then lose these workers, while passing most of the costs of their being in the country on to state and local taxpayers than to buy or rent farming equipment, which they then have to house, maintain, repair, etc.

Sat, 07/21/2007 - 17:38
George

The WSJ and big business seem to be all for the laws of supply and demand when it comes to shipping American jobs overseas. And they don't want any "artificial" protections like tariffs. But howl like a gut shot dog if a tighter labor supply might push up wages. Then they want the government to facilitate an artificial expansion of the labor pool with a flood of illegals and guest workers. These people aren't corporate citizens. They're pirates. And their illegal practices deserve the economic punishment befitting piracy.

Sun, 07/22/2007 - 16:01
The Other Mary

These people just do not get it. Our nation means more to us than cheap lettuce.

Mon, 07/23/2007 - 17:12
Immigrant

Exactly. We are a White nation and will always be so. What good has ever come out of non Whites?

Mon, 07/23/2007 - 17:47
expat

During the debate over the Bush-Kennedy bill they kept telling us that the current immigration laws were unenforceable and that even building a wall would be futile. If that was true how could there be a labor shortage?