MARKET REPORT – MAY 19TH, 2017
Sometimes Sanity does not prevail!
After a 6 year hiatus of deporting undocumented immigrants in the U.S., the three-ring donkey rodeo that is the current US Administration began, immediately after being sworn in, to implement a very substantial deportation program, focused on ‘bad hombre’s’ – immigrants with criminal records. That’s what they said. The campaigning Trump promised this, and he has certainly delivered, with tens of thousands of people pushed across the southern Frontier into Mexico, including many non-Mexicans from Central America, in 90 days. But, of those only 25% had criminal records which wasn’t what the president implied pre-coronation. But now the Republicans are proposing legislation that will immediately criminalize anyone living in the U.S. who is undocumented – meaning that any of them can be deported at any time, with over 10 million people automatically criminalized with the stroke of a pen, including 25% of the population of L.A.
While this has been going on, the US government has turned a deaf ear to the agricultural and food processing sectors who are consistently desperate for labour. As many have said, coal miners who’ve lost their jobs in Virginia aren’t packing up the kids in the camper any time soon to drive to Florida to pick tomatoes for 3.5c a lb. While Mexican agricultural workers, 50% of them whom are undocumented, make up 6% of the U.S. population, they account for over 30% of farm labour across the U.S.
For the last few years California was in drought. Farmers walked away from fields they couldn’t afford to irrigate, if water was available. Field workers ‘moved on’ to other parts of the U.S., to other industries, or went home. This year, California has abundant water, and farmers will be hard pressed to not plant out those vacant fields for the first time in a few years. Here’s what Harold Edwards, a lemon orchardist said yesterday on L.A. news: “With a lot of the rhetoric that’s going on about building the wall a lot of those laborers who felt comfortable coming before, now just don’t feel comfortable so they’re not coming,” Edwards said.
Field workers are not a target of the ICE deportation squads, but there is already a shortage, there will be more production this year and a decrease of labour, there will be fewer Mexicans coming across the border as legal or illegal seasonal workers, and there continues to be a net reduction in illegal immigration – more people are going south across the border than north, with better and better jobs and higher pay being offered in Mexico compared to a substantially lower cost of living.
With millions of pounds of grapes, apples and strawberries un-picked last summer, it will be very interesting to see what this looks like this year.
Here’s another take from the California Ag News.
(When reading this, when you see the words “American worker” I think that should really read “white American worker”.)
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director
The noble farm workers moving though California orchards and vineyards – where they are pruning trees and tying vines, along with other winter work – are fearful that they could be deported.
“They are scared because there has been a lot of the rhetoric in the news out there that’s come from the presidential campaign,” said Jason Resnick, Vice President and general counsel for the Western Growers Association, based in Irvine. “It has certainly raised concerns for workers. However, we are confident that the President understands the needs of agriculture, the importance of agriculture and that we rely on these workers to harvest the crops that feed the country and the world.”
There has been additional rhetoric, along with letters to editors in major newspapers across the country. Many uninformed people are saying that farm workers should not be here because they are taking away American jobs.
“We’ve known for years and it’s been tested and proven again and again that Americans won’t pick crops at any wage,” Resnick said. “As part of the H2A temporary agricultural program that allows agricultural employee who are facing a shortage of domestic workers to bring foreign workers to the U.S. to perform ag work services on a seasonal basis, we have advertised for American workers in multiple states.”
“We are seeking American workers to do the work at considerable higher wages than minimum wage,” he said. “And we do not get many Americans applying at all. And when we do, they come to work and they barely last a day, let alone the season.”
“People in this country would do almost anything rather than farm work,” Resnick said.