Will California be going the way of Georgia, which recently passed a get-tough law against illegal immigrants only to discover crops were rotting in the fields? Georgia seemed to be well-intended in driving undocumented workers out of the state only to find – get ready for this shocker – that was exactly what happened. Farm workers vanished from the state, and the state was short 11,000 agricultural jobs.
In a truly desperate move, Georgia decided to hire unemployed criminals who are on probation to pick the crops.
“If you’re strong enough to do this work, you’re good, as long as you don’t show up stoned or drunk or pregnant,” said the president of their Agricultural Council perhaps unmindful that workers need to have experience and be ready for extremely strenuous work.
I’m guessing that city dwellers on probation for marijuana might not make the best of farm workers. Not surprisingly, most of the probationers gave up quickly and were much less productive than skilled farm workers. By the way, peaches are the worst crop to pick says an ex-farm worker friend. The fuzz makes you itch and gets in your eyes. Georgia has lots of peaches.
Could this same type of fiasco happen in California too? While we certainly don’t have immigration laws as Draconian as Georgia, controls at the border have gotten much stricter with the result being fewer illegal immigrants crossing over into the States.
Three miles down the road from is a produce stand that has been locally operated for at least 3 generations. they will soon have to close because of the asinine law GA passed. It’s the only locally grown place here. They pull the food right out of the ground and have it on the stand in hours. Most of the rest of the food around here in the markets is shipped in from far flung places, meaning the freshness is long gone before it is even put in the produce isles….about 2 to 3 weeks later…..so much for supporting local GA farmers.
Unintended consequences, indeed…
As a small dairy farmer, I can attest that it’s difficult to hire and keep help. I don’t speak Spanish so I hire English-speakers, but most of them don’t stay long. Shoveling manure just isn’t any fun. It’s not hard work so much as moderately unpleasant. A new hire will work a couple of days, or maybe two weeks, then disappear. The two employees who have been with me longest are both young mothers. The strong men don’t last. Go figure.
And then there’s the unwanted folks who stop by the farm to help themselves. According to a New York Times story titled “Farm Felons Pick Off California Crops” agricultural crime is on the rise and less state grant money is available to rural law enforcement agencies to combat it.
I have picked peaches, back in the day. And apples, oranges, various berries, various beans. Shoveled a fair amount of horse-shit. It’s not work for pampered pussy white-dogs.
As with the demise of my beloved Timber Industry, big business is responsible.