Immigration and the Food Industry
In a world of research and reporting that is characterized by some as "fake" news, we thought it worthwhile to provide some of what we think are the facts surrounding immigration and the effect on farming and the food industry. In doing our homework, we we surprised at the very wide delta in statistics from various sources for the same information.
As an example, we have found estimates of undocumented (illegal) immigrants being 11 Million to as high as 15.7 million. That is part of either 42 million or 61 million total immigrants (from 13% to 26% of illegal versus documented immigrants). If you want to confuse yourself with the wide disparity in "facts", check out these two articles:
What does seem to be undisputed is that farmers have and will find it increasingly difficult to find the necessary labor to pick their crops in the face of a decreased number of immigrant workers. The great depression forced a reduction in immigration as jobs in Mexico were more attractive than the jobs here. Mechanization offers some relief, but not for the raw, fresh foods which do poorly with bruising and damage with any kind of harvest method other than by hand. Outputs have and will decrease from american grown foods as the ability and cost to harvest moves production off-shore (including, of course, Mexico).
There is little argument that 1. immigrant populations are the primary source of agricultural labor; 2. restrictive immigration policy or mass deportations would reduce food production; and 3. food prices would become unstable and food variety less diverse with fewer immigrant farm workers. Many farmers insist that they cannot replace immigrant workers with US workers - not simply because of wages but because of unwillingness to work in farming conditions.
If you have spent time along the US-Mexico border, you realize how motivated the illegal immigrants are to risk crossing the border and Sonoran desert for a low-paying job and the frustratingly difficult legal path the US has established for allowing immigrants to respond to demand for labor in the US. Allowing immigrants to much more easily choose a legal route to entering the US for a job than choosing the death-defying illegal immigration path for that same job should be the focus. Then, the remaining people illegally entering the US really will be "bad dudes".
Video on the Effects of Immigration policy on Agriculture
We choose this instructive video from the Farm Bureau as one the seemed to have the least "spin".