crops rotting in the fields

"Crops Rotting in the Fields" articles

For years, the media has been printing propaganda by farmers and growers warning about a veritable food Armageddon if they don't get all the cheap labor they want. The articles are just a scare tactic used because growers want a cheap, pliable labor force rather than employing legal workers at a good wage under good conditions. The self-styled reporters who write these articles invariably fail to ask growers any questions that might reveal that they're just engaging in scare tactics.

For recent discussions of how these articles are deceptive, see "Another Phony Farm Crisis" (link) and "'Bitter Harvest' Watch: Time Magazine Edition" (link).

farm income chart
Chart showing overall farm income from 2000 to 2011 (estimated) from ers.usda.gov/Features/FarmIncome. That income has risen despite illegal immigration being at a low ebb. Click for a larger version.

An early example of a deceptive "crops rotting" story is from 1963:

...California Farmer reported in 1963 that if the flow of braceros stopped, tomato growers and canners "agree the State will never [again be able to plant] the 100,000 to 175,000 acres planted when there was a guaranteed supplemental labor force in the form of the braceros..."

Reality, however, never confirmed these dire predictions. In 1960 some 45,000 farm workers (mostly braceros) had harvested 2.2 million tons of processing tomatoes. By 1999, it took only 5,000 workers to operate machinery that harvested some 12 million tons. Thanks to these efficiency gains from mechanization, the real price of processing tomatoes declined 54 percent while per capita consumption rose 23 percent...

In addition to the posts below, see the PIIPP propaganda articles, Jon Vessey, Western Growers, Tom Vilsack, and immigration agriculture.

Last modified Feb 20, 2013
Discussed in (click each link for the full post):

Aaron Schock's treacherous, out-of-touch immigration comments - 04/22/14

On the video below, Rep. Aaron Schock (GOP of Illinois) makes immigration comments that are nearly as treacherous as some George W Bush made. But, the hallmark of Schock's comments is not so much how un-American they are, but how out-of-touch they are.

John Flesher of AP rehashes decades-old article to help growers get cheap labor (Michigan, Pat McGuire, rotting crops) - 07/08/13

John Flesher of the Associated Press offers "Farmers worry about fate of immigration bills" [1], a rehash of the same, decades-old article that dozens of news sources have used to get growers cheap, exploitable farm labor.

Only the names, locations, and crops have changed this time around:

Tom Vilsack promotes illegal activity, uses bogus "crops rotting" line - 02/24/12

At the Department of Agriculture's 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum, Ag secretary Tom Vilsack once again promoted illegal activity now and an amnesty or guest workers program for illegal aliens in the future.

With millions of Americans unemployed, Keith Olbermann promotes cheap, exploitable foreign labor (Georgia immigration law, Matt Ramsey) - 06/25/11

On his June 23 show, Keith Olbermann supported cheap, illegal foreign labor working in sometimes dangerous conditions rather than legal workers working for acceptable wages under safe conditions. And, he either fell for or tried to promote pro-illegal immigration propaganda.

With millions unemployed, Ag Secy Tom Vilsack demeans American workers, promotes amnesty, opposes enforcement, uses bogus talking points, opposes eVerify - 05/27/11

Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack held a press conference on Wednesday in which he demeaned American workers, promoted immigration "reform", opposed immigration enforcement, and used a series of bogus immigration talking points.

An account of his remarks is here, with more excerpts at [1].

1. Vilsack ran down American workers, saying: "While some American citizens step up and take (farm) jobs, the truth is even when farmers make their best effort to recruit a domestic workforce, few citizens express interest. In large part that's because this is hard, tough work." The idea that growers want to recruit Americans is more than a bit dubious; many run down American workers as much as Vilsack. Growers tend to prefer lower-wage, more compliant illegal aliens. And, we sent a man to the moon and won World War II, now Vilsack falsely says that most Americans don't want hard work. That's also more than a bit dubious because a good percentage of those doing farm work are in fact Americans. And, there's the fact that the presence of large numbers of illegal aliens tends to reduce farm wages at the same time as decreasing safety in farm jobs.

The pro-American alternative would be for Vilsack to oppose illegal immigration and push something like this plan to get unemployed Americans working temporary farm jobs until the economy improves. That would answer the labor shortage complaints of farmers, improve working conditions on farms, and would save money overall (considering that most of those unemployed will be getting unemployment insurance and considering the costs of illegal aliens).

2. Vilsack supported comprehensive immigration reform, aka amnesty. See the link for the downsides of that plan [1].

3. One of the key selling points of immigration "reform" is that it would include stepped-up enforcement. Vilsack seems not to be such a fan of enforcement, saying: "It's difficult to know when someone is documented and when someone isn't. It's difficult when there are efforts at enforcement that basically disrupt not only undocumented folks but also documented … which we've seen in some of the processing facilities." If "reform" passed, does anyone think Vilsack would do a 180 and support "disrupt[ive]" immigration raids?

4. Vilsack used a long list of bogus talking points. The first item above is the jobs Americans wont do canard, but there were several more. From the article:

Reforms would result in "a reliable, legal workforce," said Vilsack. Reforms would also:

* Continue efforts "to secure the borders."
* Hold accountable "businesses that break the law by undermining American workers and exploiting undocumented workers."

The first is secure the border. The second is what boils down to the immigration wage floor. See both links.

Vilsack also used the deportations false choice, saying "The reality is, if you tried to deport all 12 million it would take several hundred years. That isn't practical." See the link for how he tried to mislead.

Vilsack - just as his boss, George W Bush, and dozens of other hacks have done - used the system is broken canard [2].

5. Vilsack also ran down the eVerify program, at least as a standalone solutiion, saying: "The E-Verify system creates a potential difficulty, particularly for smaller businesses... That's because they'd have to invest resources in equipment and training to participate."

Vilsack was accompanied by Bob Stallman, the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, who engaged in crops rotting in the fields scare tactics:

"Our concern is that without a legal agricultural guest worker program in place – or without comprehensive immigration reform – you have roughly 500,000 workers out there that, frankly, would be screened out (by) a mandatory E-Verify program. If that happens, the risk of production losses, or production moving outside the country, is very real... If you just put in a mandatory E-Verify program, there's suddenly a huge gap in agricultural that must be filled from somewhere. Otherwise, the crops won't be planted and harvested. That's the reality."

-----------
[1] Vilsack: "There needs to be a comprehensive immigration system that deals with the 12 million people here, many working in our farm fields."

[2] Vilsack: "I've met farmers and ranchers all over this country who are worried about the broken immigration system... Simply put, our broken immigration system offers little hope for producers trying to do the right thing and make a living...

Stephen Colbert shills for growers, supports bad policy in Congressional appearance (+rightwinger fail) - 09/24/10

Stephen Colbert testified before Congress earlier today and shilled for Big Agriculture and promoted bad, anti-American and anti-Mexican policy. And, the wider issue is also yet another example of failure by the rightwing commentariat, tea parties, and similar groups.

1. Coverage of Colbert's remarks is here and here.

2. Colbert is working with the United Farmworkers of America to promote their anti-American, pro-abuse TakeOurJobs effort. I've already written three posts about that effort, the latest was on Wednesday at that link. The two previous are here and here.

3. From his remarks:

This brief experience [of working on an upstate New York farm for a day] gave me some small understanding of why so few Americans are clamoring to begin an exciting career as seasonal migrant field worker. So what’s the answer? I’m a free market guy. Normally I would leave this to the invisible hand of the market, but the invisible hand of the market has already moved over 84,000 acres of production and over 22,000 farm jobs over to Mexico and shut down over a million acres of U.S. farm land due to lack of available labor because apparently even the invisible hand doesn’t want to pick beans.

...Maybe we could give more visas to the immigrants, who - let’s face it - will probably be doing these jobs anyway. And this improved legal status might allow legal immigrants recourse if they’re abused. And it justs stands to reason to me if your coworker can’t be exploited, then you’re less likely to be exploited yourself. And that itself might improve pay and working conditions on these farms and eventually Americans may consider taking these jobs again.

a. A small number of growers with even more questionable loyalty to the U.S. than usual have indeed moved offshore.

b. The solution to that is to reduce labor costs in socially-acceptable ways; Colbert's solution is the opposite. Labor costs can be reduced through mechanization and the like; Colbert isn't promoting that. Instead, what he's promoting would initially *raise* labor costs (legalization). However, what would happen is that growers would collude with politicians to continue allowing illegal immigration in order to reduce labor costs to their current levels. And, some or many of those newly-legalized laborers would leave the farms for other lines of working, competing with, for instance, American construction workers (unless they were held in a form of indentured servitude). Colbert doesn't realize that growers and the political power they have are a major sticking point to solving the situation. See the immigration wage floor page for a related discussion.

c. In the first paragraph, Colbert's comments seem to suggest that only Mexicans and those from Central America are genetically predisposed to doing farm work. However, that conflicts with the second paragraph in which he says Americans might take those jobs. Why isn't Colbert working to help Americans do those jobs right now? The way to do that is to enforce our immigration laws and reduce the numbers of illegal aliens doing farm work. Colbert himself is admitting that the presence of illegal labor has reduced wages and lowered safety standards. His response is to reward the very people - growers, the politicians they influence, and groups like the UFW - who are responsible for the current situation instead of letting them know who's the boss.

d. The pro-American solution is to support citizen or at least legal labor working for acceptable wages in safe conditions. The bottom line is that Colbert is not supporting that. He's supporting something that would simply lead to a repeat of the current situation.

4. This issue is yet another example of failure by the rightwing commentariat, tea parties, and similar groups. I tried to make Colbert look bad before his appearance, and I got very little help with it; see the links in #2 above. Among other things, I started an online petition which got all of three (3) signatures: act.ly/2f5 I also posted here: freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2595102/posts Note the might-as-well-be-helping-Colbert comments. Colbert's appearance is very establishment-friendly pro-grower propaganda, similar to the crops rotting in the fields propaganda efforts stretching back decades. Those groups showed themselves incapable of striking back against such propaganda. And, most of Colbert's fans appear unable to recognize just whose side Colbert is on.

ADDED:

5. I added the "who are responsible for the current situation" above; hopefully that was clear before.

6. Another place I posted about this before the event was alipac.us/ftopict-213281.html That's the same as the Freerepublic post.

7. The failure by many opponents of illegal immigration who are commenting on this issue continues. See if you can find anyone in this long list who is attempting to show how Colbert is wrong. To compound the problem and as an illustration of how they aren't really serious about blocking amnesty, they're also unwilling to link to this post. Instead, they're engaging in wild conspiracy theories (such as that Colbert's appearance was designed to distract from the contemporaneous DOJ/New Black Panthers hearings) or only discussing the meta of Colbert's appearance.

Mike Thomas of Orlando Sentinel supports exploitation of farm workers to keep prices low (UFW's anti-American takeourjobs) - 07/14/10

Mike Thomas of the Orlando Sentinel offers "If illegal immigrants go, produce prices would skyrocket" (link), a breezy attempt to put a happy face on the United Farmworkers of America's anti-

Feinstein re-introduces AgJobs farmworker amnesty/indentured servitude bill - 05/14/09

Senator Dianne Feinstein has re-introduced the "Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security Act" (AgJobs) farmworker amnesty plan [1] with sixteen co-sponsors [2]. Consider these listed features:

# Undocumented agriculture workers would be eligible for a “blue card” if they can demonstrate having worked in American agriculture for at least 150 work days (or 863 hours) over the previous two years before December 31, 2008.

# The blue card holder would be required to work in American agriculture for an additional three years (working at least 150 work days per year) or five years (working at least 100 work days per year), before becoming eligible to apply for a green card to become a permanent legal resident.

# The blue card would entitle the worker to a temporary legal resident status. The total number of blue cards would be capped at 1.35 million over a five-year period, and the program would sunset after five years.

A former Department of Labor attorney discusses it here, using phrases like "anti-American", "un-American", and "indentured servitude". Note that the cap would probably be increased over time until many more were covered by the amnesty, and note also that such programs are easy to abuse using fake documents. For instance:

Two-thirds of special agricultural worker applications for a 1986 amnesty were fraudulent. Terrorist Mohammed Abouhalima was one such fraud. He secured legal status, then got involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

And, note the incredible dishonesty in the various statements at [1], such as:

"During these rough economic times, our own farmers can’t find enough workers," said Senator Nelson (D-Fla.)... ...Efforts have been made for years to get Americans to do the work, but they simply won’t do it...

Absent easy access to cheap foreign labor, farmers and growers would be forced to either move offshore, mechanize, or raise wages and increase labor standards in order to attract American workers. If they really wanted to do the latter, they could do it especially with millions of U.S. citizens unemployed.

Then, under the headline "Consider some of these stories", they discuss a few crops rotting in the fields articles, part of the decades-long line of grower-friendly propaganda promising $10 heads of lettuce without a guest workers program. Two out of the three were discussed here: one about growers moving operations to Mexico, and another from a year ago featuring a tomato grower whining. As it turned out, he had been named to a panel by George W Bush.

UPDATE: The House version will be re-introduced by Democrat Howard Berman and Republican Adam Putnam. Craig Regelbrugge of the American Nursery and Landscape Association and the Agriculture Coalition for Labor Reform and Tom Stenzel of the United Fresh Produce Association cheer the news here.

UPDATE 2: Not surprisingly, the NYT supports the scheme.

[1] http://feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=NewsRoom.PressReleases&
ContentRecord_id=405eb8ec-5056-8059-76cd-3299775ec5d0
[2] The co-sponsors, all Democrats, are: Charles Schumer, Pat Leahy, Jeff Bingaman, Barbara Boxer, Maria Cantwell, Bob Casey, Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold, Ted Kauffman, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Herb Kohl, Carl Levin, Joe Lieberman, Patty Murray, and Bill Nelson.

Dianne Feinstein's "Emergency Agriculture Relief Act of 2008": mini-AgJobs - 04/01/08

Senator Dianne Feinstein's robotic quest to help growers in California and otehr states obtain cheap labor continues as she will apparently offer the "Emergency Agriculture Relief Act of 2008", as described here:
[It] would provide temporary limited legal immigration status to experienced farmworkers who must continue to work in agriculture for five years after enactment.

Workers, however, could not obtain legal permanent resident status (green cards), the program would be capped at 1.35 million workers nationwide and eligibility would be limited to those who can prove agricultural employment for at least 150 days or 863 hours or who have earned at least $7,000 working in agriculture during the 48 months prior to Dec. 31, 2007.

The plan would also require emergency workers to labor at least 100 days per year in agriculture for each of the next five years, pay a $250 fine plus processing fees and restricts them from receiving social security benefits based on prior illegal employment.
Note that she's continually tried to enact the more sweeping AgJobs amnesty. Feinstein spokesman Scott Gerber pretends that the endless propaganda about crops rotting in the fields is anything other than an attempt to gain cheaper labor. You can send a FAX about this here; perhaps you could suggest that she sticks to doing things like this instead.

Michael Rubinkam/AP offers yet more "crops rotting in the fields" propaganda - 03/24/08

Michael Rubinkam of the Associated Press offers yet another in the long line of "crops rotting in the fields" articles, which are propaganda designed to support an immigration amnesty and/or "guest" worker program. In the current case (link), it concerns the Keith Eckel, owner of Fred W. Eckel Sons Farms Inc. who says he's going to switch from tomatoes to mechanically-harvested corn because he can't find workers. For those not in the loop, Eckel is the top dog in the Pennsylvania fresh-to-market tomato industry.

Other than a few details, it's the same as the other articles and the replies are the same: offer more money and make sure you're doing business within the laws, try to change the laws, mechanize, or go out of business. It also includes this charming comment from Eckel which seems almost like a throwback to a different century or a different country:

"A lot of people think with immigration that we're talking about immigrants taking jobs from others. Let me tell you, there is no local labor that is going to go out and harvest those tomatoes in 90-degree temperatures except our immigrant labor... They come here to do a job that no one else will do in this country."

Carl Shaffer, president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau joined him at the press conference; Eckel isn't a participant in the H-2A program, since he finds it "too cumbersome".

UPDATE: When Keith Eckel speaks, cheap labor supporters across the nation listen!

One of the reasons might be this. Last month George Bush tabbed him for the U.S. Agency for International Development's Board for International Food and Agricultural Development. (The seven-member board advises the on agricultural priorities and issues. USAID is an independent federal government agency that provides economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide.) There are over 100 stories about his issues on Google news, yet not a single one mentions that appointment. I'm going to guess that not a single one also takes anything at other than face value and looks into whether he's part of a propaganda push for "guests".

Those who fail to look beyond the surface include sources such as RawStory (rawstory.com/news/mochila/Major_grower_ends_crop_lacking_work_03242008.html), CNN ("Migrant worker shortage crushes tomato farm", money.cnn.com/2008/03/24/news/economy/Immigrant_Labor.ap/index.htm), and Tom Bevan at RealClearPolitics ("A Test Case for Immigration", time-blog.com/real_clear_politics/2008/03/a_test_case_for_immigration.html).

Another source is Nancy Petersen of the Philadelphia Inquirer (link). It includes various farm bureau reps engaging in scare-mongering and posturing (Congress needs to act, said Furey of the New Jersey Farm Bureau: "We need a national solution that is realistic, in tune with the economy and fair to the people."), and yet another fun comment from good ol' Hacendado Eckel:

"No one will harvest tomatoes in 90 degree weather except immigrant labor."

For comparison purposes, see this form letter the "Texans for Sensible Immigration Policy" wanted their members to send to their representatives:

I work in the construction business in Houston Texas. I am here to tell you that we cannot find enough American citizens willing to labor in the hot sun!

UPDATE: The subject of the article is Keith Eckel, not Fred.

DHS revamping agriculture guest worker programs (crops rotting in fields, redefining "temporary") - 10/07/07

Nicole Gaouette of the Los Angeles Times offers "U.S. lets in more immigrants for farms" (link):
With a nationwide farmworker shortage threatening to leave unharvested fruits and vegetables rotting in fields, the Bush administration has begun quietly rewriting federal regulations to eliminate barriers that restrict how foreign laborers can legally be brought into the country.

...On all sides of the farm industry, the administration's behind-the-scenes initiative to revamp H-2A farmworker visas is fraught with anxiety. Advocates for immigrants fear the changes will come at the expense of worker protections because the administration has received and is reportedly acting on extensive input from farm lobbyists. And farmers in areas such as the San Joaquin Valley, which is experiencing a 20% labor shortfall, worry the administration's changes will not happen soon enough for the 2008 growing season.

"It's like a ticking time bomb that's going to go off," said Luawanna Hallstrom, chief operating officer of Harry Singh & Sons, a third-generation family farm in Oceanside that grows tomatoes. "I'm looking at my fellow farmers and saying, 'Oh my God, what's going on?' "
"Family farm" or politically-connected major albeit non-corporate grower? Perhaps if the LAT wanted to do some real reporting they might consider looking into her links.
Officials at the three federal agencies are scrutinizing the regulations to see whether they can adjust the farmworker program, an unwieldy system used by less than 2% of American farms to bring in foreign workers. They are considering a series of changes, including lengthening the time workers can stay, expanding the types of work they can do, simplifying how their applications are processed, and redefining terms such as "temporary."
Orwell would be proud.
The agencies are also working on possible changes to a separate visa program, H-2B, which brings in seasonal workers for resorts, clam-shucking operations and horse stables, among other businesses.
All of which are vital to our economy.
...The changes to the H-2A visa program comprise one of more than two dozen initiatives the administration announced in August. Most of the initiatives dealt with increased enforcement, the most prominent being a measure that would force employers to either fire workers for whom they've received "no match" notification (indicating their W-2 data don't match Social Security Administration records) or face punitive action from the Department of Homeland Security. When Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced the enforcement push, he also acknowledged the problems that agriculture reported.

...Industry lobbyists have sent the Bush administration a set of detailed suggestions for overhauling the H-2A program through administrative changes, which could take weeks to put in place, and through changes in the regulations, a process that takes months.

Some of the suggestions under consideration include changing the procedures farmers must use to try to hire U.S. citizens first. Currently farmers have to advertise the jobs, then submit applications to Labor and Homeland Security to bring in foreign workers. Growers would prefer to move to a system in which they pledged that they had done all they could to recruit U.S. workers, but no longer had to submit an application to Labor.

Other changes under consideration would simplify the detailed H-2A housing requirements, extend the definition of "temporary" beyond 10 months, and expand the definition of "agricultural" workers to include such industries as meatpacking and poultry processing.

Agrigeddon! WSJ says fewer cukes being grown this year - 07/20/07

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.

Deja moo: Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform on Capitol Hill May 15 - 05/14/07

Didn't I read this press release a few months ago? Yet, it's got today's date on it, and tomorrow the "Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform" will be meeting with "Senator Larry Craig [R-ID] and Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA)" [sic] to advance their cheap labor agenda:
A group of lawmakers and farmers will gather to ask Congress to pass responsible immigration reform. Labor shortages are being reported on American farms across the country, leaving crops rotting in the field. Agriculture Needs Action Now from Congress to secure access to a legal and stable workforce.
Those coming by include:
Maureen Torrey of Torrey Farms, Elba, NY;

Phil Glaize of Fred Glaize Inc., VA;

Elia Vasquez, a strawberry and herb grower from Watsonville, CA;

Mike Gempler of the Washington Growers League (WA) and National Council of Agriculture Employers from Yakima, WA;

Tom Nassif, President of Western Growers Association.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007: S9 - 01/17/07

Via this and this we learn that Harry Reid has introduced Senate Bill 9 (S.9, S9), the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007".

Feinstein, Larry Craig to push AgJobs (illegal alien farmworker amnesty) - 01/09/07

Garance Burke of the AP swallows grower propaganda till, tractor, and plow in "California farmers gear up to champion new guest worker bill". She also reveals that CA Senator Dianne Feinstein and Idaho Senator Larry Craig will be introducing a new farmworker amnesty scheme tomorrow. It appears to be a new version of AgJobs, and:

The bill would create a pilot program allowing people who have worked in agriculture for at least 150 days a year for three years, or 100 days per year for five years, to apply for a green card. It would grant legal status to no more than 1.5 million workers over five years, some of whom could apply for citizenship.

The rest of the article consists of growers making unopposed statements that strain credulity; see the "crops rotting in the fields" series for past examples. It also contains this statement that's wrong for one reason and raises questions for another:

Growers and farm worker advocates don't agree on how to fix a system that has allowed an estimated 12 million immigrants to enter the country illegally.

First, as the list of AgJobs endorsers (fourth link above) shows, those two nominally opposed forces have found common ground with this massive amnesty. Second, the "fix" needed are investigations of donations made to politicians and whether those have any bearing on those politicians then refusing to enforce our laws or supporting efforts not to enforce them. Whether Burke realizes this, or whether she thinks that new legislation would solve the problem isn't clear.

Then, we get this Feinstein quote:

"Virtually everybody agrees that agriculture is an industry that cannot do well without the undocumented worker... And the people are coming to the realization that there won't be a comprehensive immigration bill. The first step was taken with the border security bill. (A guest worker program) is the next logical step."

It's good to see that she's admitting defeat on "comprensive reform". However, her first statement is shown to be false (intentionally?) by the next paragraphs:

In the meantime, Chiesa has already started pulling up some of his peach trees and replanting rows of almond and walnut trees, which can be harvested by machines instead of people.

Maybe Feinstein should lead the way towards reviving research into mechanization rather than encouraging the importation of a third world serf class.

UPDATE: This apparent rewrite has more on those involved:

Among those supporting the bill are Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., a chief architect of last year's Senate immigration bill, and Sens. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Mel Martinez, R-Fla... Reps. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, and Howard Berman, D-Calif., are sponsoring the House version. It has the backing of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn. and Rep. Adam Putnam of Florida, a member of the Republican leadership team.

Todd Spivak: mostly pro-grower, pro-illegal immigration propaganda - 12/09/06

Todd Spivak of the Houston Press offers "Shorthanded: Foreign pickers aren't getting through the post-9/11 barricades to harvest U.S. crops" (link).

NYT: Growers want to be subsidized (they already are) - 12/03/06

Alexei Barrionuevo of the New York Times offers "Imports Spurring Push to Subsidize Produce":
For decades, the fiercely independent fruit and vegetable growers of California, Florida and other states have been the only farmers in America who shunned federal subsidies, delivering produce to the tables of millions of Americans on their own.

But now, in the face of tough new competition primarily from China, even these proud groups are buckling. Produce farmers, their hands newly outstretched, have joined forces for the first time, forming a lobby group intended to pressure politicians over the farm bill to be debated in Congress in January...
The NYT fails to note that those growers already receive a huge government subsidy: low-wage illegal labor. Those growers get to pay a low price for their workers, and all those other costs of that labor (schooling, healthcare, etc.) is paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

And, those growers tirelessly lobby for even more cheap labor, through propaganda which newspapers like the NYT willingly run as well as by pushing for amnesties like AgJobs.

Please write public *at* nytimes.com with your thoughts.

Related:
Western Growers gives Senator Feinstein a big green thumbs up
Miranda Vagg transcribes growers pining for cheap labor
Crops rotting in the fields... enforcing immigration laws to blame?
A "comprehensive" 1986 amnesty would have prevented pro-grower propaganda
Farmers hollowed when laws followed

Miranda Vagg transcribes growers pining for cheap labor - 10/10/06

Miranda Vagg of the "Greater Niagara Newspapers" group (printed in New York's "Lockport Union-Sun & Journal") offers a slab of pro-illegal immigration propaganda called "IMMIGRATION RAIDS: Local farmers reeling from busts".

Crops rotting in the fields... enforcing immigration laws to blame? - 09/12/06

This site has highlighted a long series of articles revolving around the topic of "crops rotting in the fields unless we get more cheap labor." Most of those articles - even one appearing in al Guardian - are simply propaganda, with the "reporters" simply transcribing the hyperbolic remarks of farmers and growers.

Now, however, Jim Downing of the Sa

A "comprehensive" 1986 amnesty would have prevented pro-grower propaganda - 08/24/06

Today's Wacky but Thought-Provoking Immigration Quote of the Day is featured in the article "Immigration bill sticker shock". The quote source is John Young, co-chairman of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform:

"In my opinion, the fairer question is: How will illegal immigrants impact the costs of healthcare, local education, and social services without passage of comprehensive immigration reform? ...Had we solved this problem in a truly comprehensive way in 1986 ...

Farmers hollowed when laws followed - 08/10/06

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.

Immigration laws squeeze cherry, grape farmers; Mike Johanns - 07/01/06

Various newspapers have printed an infinite series of propaganda featuring various growers complaining about how their crops are rotting in the fields because of a lack of cheap foreign serf labor.

Allied Grape Growers admits using illegal alien labor; McCain, Johanns - 06/30/06

The latest in a long line of stories about farmers desperate for cheap foreign labor contains a public admission that should be a bit shocking and - if the Bush administration and most of Congress weren't corrupt - would result in an investigation.

Whatever will we do without child labor? - 03/29/06

In October, Mark Krikorian of CIS testified before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary about "Comprehensive Immigration Reform II" (cis dot org/articles/2005/msktestimony101805o.html). As their recent actions show, they weren't paying attention:

Georgia farmers should just consider out-and-out bribery - 02/23/06

Russ Bynum of the AP offers today's article about crops rotting in the fields: "Effects of Crackdown on Illegals".

It contains several quotes from Georgia farmers claiming that they'd go out of business if they couldn't hire workers. And, while they claim that all of them provide the proper documentation, they also admit that most of them are probably here illegally.

Dania Akkad of Monterey Herald warns: crops may rot in fields - 01/09/06

Today's "crops might rot in the field if we don't get enough cheap illegal labor" article is offered by Dania Akkad of the Monterey Herald in "Farmworker shortage leaves growers fearing for crops".

Previously in this series of propaganda: "More fretful farmers whining for you to pay for their labor".

Jon Vessey, crops rotting in the fields, and pro-illegal immigration propaganda - 12/05/05

Jon Vessey is a California grower who's been quoted in a few recent articles about how crops will rot in the fields unless growers get more cheap labor to pick it. (UPDATE: see crops rotting in the fields).

On 11/21, the WaPo featured him in "Shortage of Immigrant Workers Alarms Growers in West" (link), and today the Los Angeles Times features him in "Picking a Battle Over Shortage of Farmworkers" (link). And, he was apparently also featured saying similar things in Copley News Service and USA Today. And, the CSM article (link) I discussed in "America's produce industry is facing a crisis" featured another member of the Vessey clan.

However, there appears to be quite a bit more to this story: Jon Vessey is on the Board of Directors of the Western Growers Association (source, cache). And, various Vesseys have been quote sources for decades (PDF file).

And, neither the LAT, nor the WaPo, nor the CSM noted this rather important connection. In fact, here's how the WaPo handled it:
"Today I have approximately 290 people working in the field," Jon Vessey said recently. Vessey runs an 8,000-acre winter vegetable farm with his son, Jack, near El Centro, Calif. "I should have 400, and for the harvest I need 1,100. . . . There's a disaster coming."

The Western Growers Association, which represents 3,000 farmers, is lobbying the Bush administration to make it easier for farmers to tap the labor pool just below the border.
I guess they meant to mention that there's a link between the two paragraphs, but an editor took that out. Or something like that.

Note also that left-wing bloggers fell for this too: here (washingtonmonthly. com/archives/individual/2005_12/007700.php), here (washingtonmonthly. com/archives/individual/2005_11/007643.php), here (brothersjudd. com/blog/archives/2005/12/calling_all_nat.html).

Contact the CSM here, and send emails to these: readers.Rep *at* latimes.com and ombudsman * at* washpost.com.

UPDATE: A commentor at the first PA thread says this unverified bit:
It's going back to 1982, but a leopard does not change its spots. Jon Vessey is the CEO of Vessey & Co. which lost a case in that year filed by the UFW. The Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) found that the respondents (Vessey, Maggio, ...) had bargained in bad faith with the union regarding the contract for lettuce pickers. Remember the iceberg lettuce boycott? The findings of the ALRB are available [in this PDF file].

"America's produce industry is facing a crisis" - 12/02/05

Nothing says propaganda like the annual whine from growers demanding more serf labor lest their crops rot in the fields. There have been a few recent newspaper articles about it, and the latest is "A drought of farm labor" (csmonitor.com/2005/1202/p01s03-usec.html).

"[Idaho] County Commissioner Bills Mexican Government For Illegal Aliens" - 04/21/04

From this:


Thousands of migrant farm workers are here legally but many are here illegally. It was that portion of the migrant labor population that Canyon County Commissioner Robert Vasquez singled out for special attention today suggesting that the Mexican government should reimburse local taxpayers for their expenses.

"The Mirage of Mexican Guest Workers" - 01/12/04

The highly recommended article "The Mirage of Mexican Guest Workers" from Foreign Affairs magazine (80 Foreign Affairs No. 6, November/December 2001) is required reading for anyone concerned about the Bush/Fox Amnesty. It was written in response to the amnesty Bush had proposed shortly before 9/11, however it's just as timely as if it was written last week. The authors are Philip L. Martin (UC Davis) and Michael S. Teitelbaum (Alfred P. Sloan Foundation).

Unfortunately, the full text is not available online. You can buy a copy here, or do as I did: go to your local library.

Here are some excerpts:

The only problem with this "win-win" scenario is that it will not work. Bush's proposal [the 2001 proposal --LW] ignores the fact that virtually no low-wage "temporary worker" program in a high-wage liberal democracy has ever turned out to be genuinely temporary. On the contrary, most initially small (and often "emergency") temporary worker programs have grown much larger, and lasted far longer, than originally promised.

...guest worker programs are virtual recipes for mutual dependence between employers and the migrants who work for them. Employers naturally grow to depend on the supply of low-wage and compliant labor, relaxing their domestic recruitment efforts and adjusting their production methods to take advantage of the cheap labor. History has shown that in agriculture (where many Mexican guest workers would be employed), a pool of cheap workers gives farm owners strong incentives to expand the planting of labor-intensive crops rather than invest in mechanized labor-saving equipment and the crops suitable for it...

...political leaders have often belatedly discovered that admitting temporary low-wage workers unnaturally sustains industries with low productivity and wages, such as garment manufacturing, labor-intensive agriculture, and domestic services. In consequence, the economy's overall productivity and growth suffer...

Proponents of a new Mexico-U.S. often portray it as a legal and humane alternative to what has become a huge problem - the unauthorized mass migration of Mexicans to the United States. Such advocates seem blind, however, to the unequivocal lessons of history. Far from mitigating illegal immigration, the two countries' last major temporary worker program actually initiated and accelerated its flow. During the so-called bracero ("strong-armed one") program from 1942 to 1964, the number of unauthorized Mexicans slipping across the border actually expanded in parallel with the number of authorized temporary workers; the illegal flows then continued to accelerate after the program's termination... Today, scholars largely agree that the 22 years of bracero employment created the conditions for the subsequent boom of unauthorized Mexican migration...

...California Farmer reported in 1963 that if the flow of braceros stopped, tomato growers and canners "agree the State will never [again be able to plant] the 100,000 to 175,000 acres planted when there was a guaranteed supplemental labor force in the form of the braceros..."

Reality, however, never confirmed these dire predictions. In 1960 some 45,000 farm workers (mostly braceros) had harvested 2.2 million tons of processing tomatoes. By 1999, it took only 5,000 workers to operate machinery that harvested some 12 million tons. Thanks to these efficiency gains from mechanization, the real price of processing tomatoes declined 54 percent while per capita consumption rose 23 percent...