western growers: Page 1
McCain still supports amnesty, says probably won't pass; Western Growers wants subsidized labor - 01/22/10
John McCain spoke to Western Growers on the 14th, at a meeting that he initiated (link). He still (of course) supports comprehensive immigration reform but he says it's not likely in 2010 due to it being an election year. He also said that passing AgJOBS is impossible to pass in 2010 as a standalone bill but only as a part of a CIR bill. And:
(Tom Nassif) said the Western Growers provided McCain with policy papers on the group’s concerns, including health care costs for seasonal workers and undocumented workers. Western Growers would prefer that part-time seasonal workers be exempt from insurance requirements... Currently, a majority of farm workers are not covered, he said... "How do you impose those costs on companies where they don’t have the financial wherewithal to do so?" Nassif said.
Part-time seasonal farm workers don't have the wherewithal to pay for their own healthcare at anything approaching the market rate, which means that Western Growers in effect wants subsidized labor in which some state entity would pick up their healthcare costs (in addition, of course, to all the other costs such as education).
Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif sent a letter to President-elect Barack Obama today commending him on his election victory and encouraging him to choose Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to serve in his administration as Secretary of Department of Homeland Security.
...Indeed, over the years, Western Growers, whose members primarily operate in Arizona and California, has worked with the Governor on myriad immigration related policy issues including the Arizona employer sanctions law, port-of-entry improvements enhancing the flow of legal workers who commute daily from Mexico to our members' fields here in the U.S., and streamlining of the H-2A agricultural guest worker program.
Moreover, Gov. Napolitano brings significant law enforcement experience from her stint as Arizona's first female attorney general, experience that will serve your administration and this country very well in these precarious times. Finally, Gov. Napolitano possesses a moderate temperament that makes her an effective leader while fostering bipartisanship...
Western Growers' Board of Directors has voted to endorse Arizona's John McCain in his bid to become the 44th president of the United States.Frequent MSM quote source Jon Vessey is on their board. Through him and others, they've played a role in the long line of "crops rotting in the fields" articles.
"Senator McCain has shown courage, determination and exceptional leadership skills in support of policies and principles important to Western Growers' members in Arizona and California," said Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif. "He has steadfastly promoted free markets, sensible fiscal policies, repairs of our immigration laws, and knows how important to our economy are the fruit, vegetable and nut producers in the west."
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.
White House listening to pork producers, La Raza, Mexico-linked NALEO, NRA... just not you - 06/21/07
The White House offers a PDF entitled "What They're Saying: Border Security And Immigration Reform Agreement" and subtitled 'Business And Agriculture Groups Say "It Is Critical That The Process Moves Forward"' (PDF) . It's just a collection of quotes from press releases from those few groups that support the Bush/Senate massive illegal immigration amnesty, and it contains no accompaning text other than the titles.
As simply a collection of quotes, it's not that shocking. However, it's interesting that these are the special interest groups that the White House chooses to use to bolster their bill, rather than acknowledging the other 99.99% of Americans. And, at least two of the groups are certainly interesting. Let's lead with those two:
* National Association Of Latino Elected And Appointed Officials (has a link to the Mexican government)
* National Council Of La Raza President And CEO Janet Murguia (funds extremists)
* The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce
* National Restaurant Association
* Business Roundtable
* National Association Of Manufacturers
* National Federation Of Independent Business
* Essential Worker Immigration Coalition
* American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman
* Associated Builders And Contractors Chairman David Meyer
* National Milk Producers Federation President And CEO Jerry Kozak
* National Pork Producers Council President Jill Appell
* American Subcontractors Association President Stephen Rohrbach
* Agriculture Coalition For Immigration Reform
* American Health Care Association President And CEO Bruce Yarwood
* Poultry Federation President Marvin Childers
* Georgia Farm Bureau
* Tyson Foods, Inc.
* Western Growers President And CEO Tom Nassif
* Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano
* California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
* National League Of Cities President And Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson
* Boston Mayor Thomas Menino
* MANA President And CEO Alma Morales Riojas
* U.S. Hispanic Chamber Of Commerce Board Of Directors Chairman David Lizarraga
* Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
* Esperanza USA President Rev. Luis Cortes
 The PDF is described here: freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1854324/posts. It was posted to RedState by Robert Bluey, so it's probably for real. However, I've cached it locally to avoid linking to that site.
Jorge Mujica, a spokesman for Chicago's March 10th movement, said one possibility is a boycott by illegal immigrants and their supporters against certain companies — perhaps national restaurants — to demonstrate the community's economic might.What the reporter forgot to add is that Mujica is an official with Mexico's PRD party. In other words, a representative of a foreign political party is agitating their citizens inside our country and even threatening an economic impact unless we change our laws to suit the citizens of that country.
"It's not that we want to radicalize the movement," he said. "But we have marched and lobbied and made phone calls and written letters, and nothing has come out of those strategies."
The article also includes a quote from Tom Nassif of the Western Growers Association saying that growers will be forced to cut back plantings. Oh well.
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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.
Western Growers, one of California's largest and most prominent agricultural trade associations, today announced its endorsement of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for reelection to the United States Senate.Meanwhile, in older news:
"Senator Feinstein has represented California with great integrity, honor and skill," said Tom Nassif, President and CEO of Western Growers. "She has been an outstanding member of the United States Senate and has proven that she is a true friend of our industry. Senator Feinstein has consistently supported California agriculture and has been a strong leader for the industry on critical issues such as immigration reform..."
...Western Growers is an agricultural trade association whose 3,000 members grow, pack and ship 90 percent of the fresh vegetables and nearly 70 percent of the fresh fruit and nuts grown in Arizona and California, about one-half of the nation's fresh produce. For more information, visit wga.com
Shortly before Thanksgiving last year, Tom Nassif did something few law-abiding citizens would ever think to do: He called the U.S. Border Patrol here and suggested agents stop manning a highway checkpoint intended to keep illegal immigrants out of the country.Dianne Feinstein, valiantly protecting the U.S. from the specter of mythical $10 a head lettuce by trying to make the Senate amnesty even worse.
A former U.S. ambassador and currently the president of a powerful farming association, Mr. Nassif told officials that the agency couldn't have picked a worse time to beef up enforcement. Didn't they know it was lettuce season?
In addition to Nassif, a few other favorites serve on the board of the Western Growers Association: Luawanna Hallstrom of Oceanside's Singh & Sons (what harm could illegal aliens do on a Marine Base anyway?) and perennial "crops rotting in the fields" quote source Jon Vessey. Use the search function to find many more quotes from Dianne Feinstein's strong supporters.
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."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.
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.
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].