Friday, October 06, 2006

Strawberry Farmers May Suffer: No Illegals to Pick Their Crops

Our Florida strawberry farmers may suffer this year because the illegal Mexicans that normally sneak in over the border have supposedly not made it across this year. So (because we've tightened up border patrols) crops may not be harvested.

Already there are pear farmers in California who have had to discard part of their crops as a result of a lack of labor.

I don't believe it. We aren't cracking down that much, yet. The Minutemen are still in business and there aren't enough of them to do anything more than embarrass the Bush administration. So, this seems like a new angle to try to beef up the administration's claim that they're doing something, along with a heaping serving of good old fashioned guilt because we are now affecting farmers and wasting food.

Yet I remember reading that once an illegal Mexican becomes legal, he immediately begins looking for a better job. Let's face it: No one dreamed of being a fruit picker as a child. It's a painful, arduous task... but it's under the radar. Interestingly, this article confirms what I've read elsewhere:

"Dave Moore, executive director at Beth-El Farm Worker Ministry Inc. in Wimauma, says many of the workers he sees are switching to other industries.

"With decreasing amount of acreage available for fields, many are transitioning into construction, service industries and hospitality," he said."

So it's not so much the tightening of the borders as it is the chance of a better opportunity. Despite the cry that no American wants to be a fruit picker, apparently no illegal Mexican wants to be, either.

These farmers have dug their own graves. They were happy to exploit both illegal Mexicans and the U.S. taxpayer to "make hay [or strawberries] while the sun shines". Now that we're tightening things up, they are the first to whine. However, they created the situation which currently leaves them high and dry.

Sadly, this may affect food prices for the rest of us. As if we weren't paying enough in medical bills due to the free care which illegal Mexicans get in our nation's hospitals and other social services. Additionally, we cover the payroll taxes for the illegal Mexicans and the farmers who (until now) all had a free ride. Don't underestimate how much their free ride has cost the average American taxpayer.


Debbie (Fruitful Spirit) said...

Well it seems this year since it can't be blamed on the weather (yet) they have to blame something! And we will all have to pay the price for a fresh strawberry to eat! And no doubt a raise in cost for the Strawberry Festival!

Why haven't the tomatoe farms whined yet or is it not the right time of year for that one?

Saur♥Kraut said...

Debbie, I think it's not the right time for tomatoes yet(?) I love the strawberry festival! I just bought the most gorgeous ruby and emerald strawberry ring to flash around when I go this year! You know how fun it is.

An ex-farmboy said...

I am willing to bet that the farmers will be alright. I was raised working in watermelon and hay feilds and we always got to market ok without illegals. Granted we used teenagers, maybe the current sorriness of youth today is to blame somewhat on the illegals. Since they seem to take the entry level jobs that might keep teens from being able to find work. The market will right itself, it always does. If strawberrys get to high either the farmers will grow something different, they will figure out how to harvest them without labor, they will invent a machine to pick them, people will stop buying them or the price will increase netting the farmer the same money for less product to the farmer.
Remember this, corn, cotton, peas, beans etc etc etc all used to be picked by hand and today one man on a machine picks them much faster and leaves less in the feild allowing them to be brough to market cheaper.
they actually pick alot of tomatos with a machine now, those that are processed and dont need to be pretty are often picked by machine.

Kathleen said...

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Badoozie said...

maybe they should gather up truckloads of homeless people and juvenile offenders, and have them go ahead and pick. instead of just letting the food waste, they should take action.

Ed Abbey said...

I never could understand why people want to work in a coal mine because of the dangers and hard work involved. But when I found out the pay, I understood. Now the fruit and vegetables farmers need to understand that if they pay enough, they (workers both legal and illegal) will come.

United We Lay said...

The crops will be picked. There's no way farmers will let them go to waste. They'll just have to pay American citizens a liitle more, or pay them the same amount as independant contractors. Did you know that independant contractors do not have to pay minimum wage? They advertise what they will pay for a particular job, and people who need work take the offer. How is this not a solution to the problem?

The Lazy Iguana said...

It is a set up. All this is a way to generste press for Bush's "guest worker" program.

There are plenty of illegals who will pick fruit in Florida. Hatians would flood over here to fill the gap.

I pick my own stuff at the U-Pick field. So hooey to it all!

~Deb said...

Thank God I'm allergic to strawberries. ;)

No one wants to wash dishes nor be a busboy either. But those boys work their butts off! The women too!!! I admire their work ethics. It's much more than what most American can say. Sad.

Miss Cellania said...

If you don't want to pay market prices for food, you are going to pay for suubsidies for farmers and economic help for underpaid workers. Its one or the other. Food is not free. Its the same way with Walmart.. people love the low prices, but we all pay more to subsidize health insurance for workers under the poverty line, whether they are cirtizens or not. Illegal immigration has less to do with it than market forces.

The Lazy Iguana said...

For that matter - nobody really wants to work!

Do not believe me? Well then how about this question.

You win a $250 million (after tax) progressive slot machine mega-jackpot in Las Vegas. What do you do?

1. Report to work on Monday.

2. Book a first class airline ticket to New Zealand.

We all work because we have to. What is a good pay scale for you would be below poverty for someone born into wealth. So that "low paying" job natural born American Citizens do not want is good money for someone from a less industrialized nation.

In a way, the President is right on this one issue. We do rely on cheap illegal labor. Big business loves it, because they can pay illegals low wages, have them work illegal overtime without extra pay, and forget about benefits! We love it because of all the cheap garbage we can buy at Wal-Mart, not to mention the low price of tomatos at the supermarket.

But then there is the "build a tall wall" force on the right. They hate the guest worker program.

I will sit back and enjoy the show, watching the white house try to appease the far right while at the same time giving business what it wants.

Scott said...

I think that there probably is really a shortage of workers. I remember this happening up in Canada a few years back, i don't think that there are less illegals in the country it is just that they are doing other things.

The real issue is about market prices. You can't have dirt cheap prices on things such as strawberries if the farmers are going to have to pay a regular wage to the picker, it just does not work that way. If you want them to pay minimum wage then be prepared for higher food prices. People do not have the right to complain about both issues.


Some Random Girl said...

I love it when it seems that people like illegals when it benefits them. I say we get the prisoners from prisons out there to pick our lettuce. let them f*ckers sit out there in the hot sun earning their 3 buck a day meal!

mal said...

For many years California farmers used a guest worker program and Mexican laborers came into and left this country legally and easily to harvest crops.

The program died back in the 60's thanks to pressure from a diverse group that included northern Republicans and Cesar Chavez of the UFW.

The result? We created whole new industries for transporting illegal aliens.....