LAKEPORT, Calif. – The pear growers in Lake County waited decades for a crop of shapely fruit like the one that adorned their orchards last month.
"I felt like I went to heaven," said Nick Ivicevich, recalling the perfection of his most abundant crop in 45 years of tending trees.
Now harvest time has passed and tons of pears have ripened to mush on their branches, while the ground of Mr. Ivicevich's orchard reeks with rotting fruit. He and other growers in Lake County, 90 miles north of San Francisco, could not find enough pickers.
Stepped-up border enforcement kept many illegal Mexican migrant workers out of California this year, farmers and labor contractors said, putting new strains on the state's shrinking seasonal farm labor force.
Ron Guhname saw a CNN show about pears rotting on the ground due to lack of illegal immigrant workers to pick them cheaply. Guhname is unsympathetic to the complaints of the pear farmers.
I say serves you right: you got it coming when you make your living off of illegality, and when you impose all the costs of illegals on your neighbors.
In the comments at that link Steve Sailer asks whether the pears are rotting due to excess supply. It turns out that increased foreign pear and apple supplies have sent prices plummeting and acreage dedicated to them has been shrinking for years before the illegal alien supply started to get undercut.
Orchard acreage in Oregon has fallen about 20 percent over the past two decades, according to a new fruit tree inventory compiled by the federal government.
Apples, in particular, has taken a hit, with the 4,835 acres of apples in production in 1986 dwindling to 1,340 acres in Hood River, Wasco, Josephine and Jackson counties.
Increased foreign competition and oversupply have sent apple and pear prices plummeting. And as orchards are turned into golf courses, or preserved as parks, agriculture employment declines too, with the closure of packing houses.
All this was happening while the illegals were flooding into the country.
The price for No. 1 grade pears last season was $215 a ton, compared with $210 in 2004, $246 in 2003, and $243 in 2002.
The price willl be higher in 2006 and 2007 than 2005 but still lower than 2003 and 2002.
Think the shortage of illegal alien labor is going to drive up the prices we pay for pears? Foreign competition is driving the price of pears, not labor costs. Pear farmers are faced with cheap labor in China that drives down the price of pears.
Ivicevich said production costs for his crop are about $2,500 an acre, with an additional $1,000 an acre needed to cover harvest costs. The past few years have been financially challenging, he said. Rising production costs, competition from China and weather conditions have all made it hard for Lake County pear growers to make a profit.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Wake Forest University School of Medicine researchers have found high rates of hunger in surveys of immigrant Latino families in eastern and western North Carolina, southwestern Virginia and Forsyth County.
"Although the United States enjoys a relative lack of hunger, there are segments of the N.C. population – Latino immigrants – with hunger more severe than areas of persistent poverty like Appalachia," said Sara A. Quandt, Ph.D. The overall hunger rate for the U.S. is 4.3 percent. The Wake Forest surveys found that rates of hunger among Latino immigrants ranged from almost twice the national rate (8 percent) to more than eight times the national rate (35.6 percent). The results were reported in the October issue of the Journal of Nutrition.
"About 40 percent of the respondents in each study reported worrying that food would run out and that food bought would not last," said Quandt, the lead author. That combination, less severe than "hunger," is viewed as "food insecurity" and includes such actions as relying on just a few kinds of food and cutting meal size for children and adults.
In Forsyth, 15.8 percent of those surveyed reported children had had to go all day without food in the past year and 21.8 percent reported that children were hungry because they couldn't afford more food. And yet the researchers also found that only 12.9 percent of those in Forsyth reported receiving food from a food pantry compared to 25 percent of those in eastern North Carolina.
The farmers should embrace automation and stop bringing in illegal aliens whose health care, education of children, crime, and other costs are paid for by the rest of us.
As the border tightens, Mexican workers who once spent part of each year in American fields without a work permit fear that if they go back to Mexico, they will be trapped behind the border, farmers say. Instead, they stay in the United States, taking year-round jobs that pay more and are less backbreaking than farm work, such as cleaning hotels or working in construction in cities on the Gulf Coast devastated by last year's hurricanes.
"Frequently you hear, especially from California, complaints about construction companies actually recruiting workers from the sides of the fields," said Craig Regelbrugge, co-chair of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform.
I heard an anecdotal report about a big grower about 100 miles from where I live that was losing farm workers to construction companies hiring them to move to Bakersfield to build houses. So I'm not surprised to read this. Where do the farmers get off thinking they have a God given right to cheap labor?
Some farmers are automating.
Some farmers said they have invested in machines to take the place of workers, though some tasks, such as picking soft fruit, cannot be mechanized.
Soft fruit picking could be automated. It'd take some robotic technology with pressure sensors to prevent the pickers from squeezing too hard. It is not impossible.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2006 October 03 10:17 PM Immigration Economics|