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ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS AND FOOD COST OR HOW STRICT IMMIGRATION POLICY KILLS THE AMERICAN FARMER (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 12, 2008

November 11, 2008

For years now whenever someone made the battle cry, “Let’s get rid of all the illegal immigrants” I Photo - American Gothic (1930), oil on beaverboard, 74.3 x 62.4 cm. All rights reserved by The Art Institute of Chicago and VAGA, New York, NYwould counter with a question to directly jab where it hurts the most–the pocketbook. “Do you want to keep food prices as low as they are? How much of your paycheck are you willing to put for food in order to keep the immigrants out?” It was an easy argument to make. I knew that migrant workers, paid a few dollars a day for their menial labor, helped to keep the US’s food costs to a surreal minimum. It seemed a no-brainer–take away cheap labor and you no longer have cheap food.

And I didn’t think about my argument much beyond the fact that usually got the Pro-Migra people to think twice before demanding blanket immigration policies. However, that was until I went looking for evidence to help prove my point. In the age of refrigerated trucks, the free market, and a little help from NAFTA, ejecting migrant workers from the United States would not mean the end of our cheap food supply. Instead, it would be the American farmers that rely on the cheap labor to hand pick fragile fruits and veggies that would become barren. We mass consumers would still enjoy our strawberries and avocados from Mexico, our cucumbers from Canada, and bananas from Costa Rica. We mostly rely on them for our off-season needs now, but swift upward trends do not forecast bounty in our farmers futures.

American producers have been cheating in the price wars. Importing cheap labor and keeping transportation distances low, our farmers have been able to undercut the competition from migrant workers’ own homelands. Plus “Made in America” sells. However, “for the last several years, crackdowns on illegal immigrants and the lack of comprehensive immigration reform have increased anxiety among [New York State] farmers, many of whom rely on a migrant labor force from Latin America to work their fields.” Many farmers have already scaled back harvest sizes or switched to less labor-intensive products. (Link.)

So, the next time someone says they want to expel the migrant population from the US, I won’t tell them how doing so will destroy their pocketbooks, but rather something closer to the heart–the idyllic dream of the American farmer.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘FOOD BUBBLES’

Posted in AGRICULTURE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, ECONOMY, FOREIGN WORK FORCE - ILLEGAL, MIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, TRAFFICKING OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, USA | 1 Comment »