Immigration controls affecting California ag markets - or are they?

Posted by  $  blarman 1 week, 1 day ago to Business
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"And at $12 an hour, it paid better than slinging fast food."

"In California, farm wages increased 13 percent from 2010 to 2015, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some farmers have resorted to giving field laborers benefits such as 401(k) plans, health insurance and even subsidized housing."

In my area, minimum wage is $7.25/hr. I know a lot of teenagers who'd be out there picking for that money, so I don't think it has to do with wages per se.

"For generations, rural Mexico has been the primary source of hired farm labor in the U.S. According to a federal survey, nine out of 10 agricultural workers in places like California are foreign-born, and more than half are in the U.S. illegally."

So all we've done here is expose that Californians are effectively exploiting slave labor.

So the million $ question: what is REALLY the cause of the shortage of labor? Answer: what isn't in the article: California government policy that makes it so expensive that even $12.00/hr doesn't provide a living after taxes.

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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 6 days, 20 hours ago
    I went to high school in northern California back when they had the bracero program that allowed migrant farm workers to have permit papers (H2-A visas) to travel legally across the border. Unfortunately, the issuance of those papers often rested on paying bribes, encouraging more workers to come across without them, since no one ever asked to see the visas. The flood of undocumented workers alarmed both governments, resulting in the end of the program in 1964.

    What discourages American citizens from seeking farm employment is that it's physically tough work. I worked in the fruit orchards in high school, so I know how tough it can be. The other part of the problem is that the pay isn't good enough to cover transportation. We aren't likely to go back to the depression era labor camps, with men traveling where the work is and sending money home, especially now that unemployment is dropping, so a better solution is a generous guest worker program.
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    • Posted by ycandrea 6 days, 19 hours ago
      I grew up in Yuba City, Ca, which is 40 miles north of Sacramento. I worked on tomato harvesters and orchards in my teens and early 20's until I found a bookkeeping job. It was hard work and I got along fine with the Mexican workers. They trained me and worked very hard too. My point is that there is plenty of work for teens and Mexican migrant workes.
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      • Posted by  $  6 days, 18 hours ago
        "My point is that there is plenty of work for teens and Mexican migrant workes."

        Which leads to the question: if there is plenty of work, why are employers having a hard time filling the positions?
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    • Posted by  $  6 days, 20 hours ago
      "a better solution is a generous guest worker program."

      A program which relies on legal immigration and work visas rather than the current dependence on illegal workers.
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  • Posted by CaptainKirk 6 days, 20 hours ago
    A few comments, it is hard to compare what it costs to live and work in different states.
    I grew up in MI and moved to CA for all of 93 days... EVERYTHING was outrageously expensive. But the pay was better.

    Now, here in FL we have Orange Pickers (mechanical devices connected to trucks). Over time, it MUST be automated. Labor is the most expensive component in almost everything (once you have mass production). And Ingenuity needs to kick in.

    Then, $12/hr is 24,000/yr (if full time). If it cost 2-3 times as much, they would be buying robots... Which is where it will get to. A bigger company will buy a GROUP of $100K robots. Load up a "picking/packing" program, and they will do the work.

    I am not sure fixing this by just paying more to foreigners is the right answer.

    Finally, what Percentage of costs of food is the labor? Honestly, it isn't 100% it is probably 30% ... And I would be willing to pay 30% more for most fruits and veggies that I buy, just to know that they were picked without using Illegals, or violating other laws.
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  • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 1 week, 1 day ago
    Why is calipornia still using manual labor in the fields when the rest of agriculture is mechanized?

    Or are they just pulling the wool over our eyes.
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    • Posted by  $  1 week, 1 day ago
      Great question. My suspicion is that their own regulatory infrastructure has created the problem. Democratic politicians want the illegals there, because they can exploit them for cheap labor and illegal votes (Kalifornia adopted a policy allowing illegals to get a full driver's license).
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