Oh I'm sure you could find people to do the work if you just paid them enough to make it worth their while. But then you'd be paying $20/lb for tomatoes.
(I picked strawberries for extra cash once while when I was welfare. I made something like $6 a day.)
It is sad that the takeaway from this is a fair minimum wage and benefits for farm workers is not economically viable.
Oh god DON'T READ THE COMMENTS ON THAT ARTICLE.
why did I do that?
I didn't. Now I'm caught between curiosity and dread.
Really? You hate being right? I mean, it's a bad situation, and you may dislike that it is true, but the facts are the facts independent of whether you're right about them. All other things being equal, isn't it better to be right?
No, it would be better if I'd been wrong and there had been farm workers available and it had all been perfect. I would rather have been wrong that going into Iraq was a terrible idea, too.
Alternatively, pulling under-compensated, low-skill labor from a back-breaking, manual task will now see farmers forced to invest in the technology to do the work without that kind of low-level labor. Don't say it can't be done. They said that about cotton. And though they are saying it about hard-to-harvest items like lettuce now, I've talked with CA lettuce farmers who privately say the only thing holding them back from the - existing, expensive - technology investment is that their competitors are using under-wage labor and so investing isn't competitive.
True; we have built an economy around mistreating a lot of people.
I am sad to say that I am hardly surprised. Many people do want a job.. but they want a happy cushy job sitting in a chair in an air-conditioned building. Well. I overstate. Most people want income, but would prefer not to work quite so hard for it.
The good news is the rotting produce will make excellent compost for next year's crops.
Most people aren't physically strong enough to do it, honestly.
IIRC I think they tried to get unemployed people and folks who had community service components to their misdemeanor convictions and both sets of people threw in the towel becasue it was too hat, dirty and (literally) back breaking.
All of a sudden that "the do the jobs Americans don't want to do" is looking a good bit less wacky. It's not that Americans want "cushy jobs" necessarily, it's that these jobs are shitty beyond shitty don't have some of the basics things we take for granted like adequate facilities we take for granted like real bathrooms or water fountains or a level of pay at least equal to the Fry Guy at McDonalds (because IIRC, there is not minimum wage for farm workers).
And yeah, I called this too as soon as I heard about what Georgia had planned.
I agree with the notion that cheap labor allows farmers to not invest in new technology. But most farmers are barely staying above water as it is. There is very little margin. New investment means our food costs go way up.
How do unemployment benefits factor into this? If someone goes and does this, makes a bit of scratch above board, does it impact their benefits? If someone is still receiving unemployment benefits, do they even need to do this?
Mind you, I'm not pro-kick'em-all-out...I'm pro-streamline-the-system-and-grow-the-tax-base...but I do have have some reservations about a quasi-class system that provides workers for labor intensive tasks only because they lack the paperwork to get the same benefits as actual citizens.
Many immigrant farm workers are migratory--they're here in the summer and return to Mexico for the rest of the year because their families and homes are in Mexico. The whole "they're ruining our schools/cities" obfuscates any real discussion of the genuine issues.
This makes me sad as it was entirely predictable yet they let their prejudices stand in the way of common sense. And it will be us who pay the cost in the form of higher food costs.
But that will be Obama's fault. Somehow.
Yeah, I was recently unemployed in Georgia and I was furious when Deal told me to go pick fruit. I have a college degree and I'm a certified science teacher, with most of the credits needed for a Master's in Special Education. With all the money I've invested in my education, I'm not picking fruit. If I hadn't found a teaching position for this year, I'd be looking at moving out of state to a place with more teaching jobs.
If we're worried about cheap food, it's funny that we subsidize the production of crops that don't require massive amounts of manual labor (wheat, corn) but that we don't subsidize the ones that do (most fruits and vegetables), especially considering that fruits & vegis are usually healthier.
As for me, one day of tossing 60 pounds hay bales in 95 degree heat was more than enough to convince me to get an office job. That was actually a pretty good job, pay-wise; IIRC I made nearly double minimum wage. That's also when I was 17 and still had two good knees, two good ankles and an undamaged back.
That's because those crops are grown in huge swathes by huge companies that have huge lobbying efforts.
Yeah, a day of picking strawberries did the same for me. And I made shit money, so it was a very easy decision.
I'm surprised the jobs pay $8-12/hour. I had assumed they paid only minimum wage. Someone else had also told me that farming depended on undocumented workers to keep prices so low. Otherwise, prices would have to go up. I wonder what direction they'll go in next? Figure out a way to harvest more efficiently? Raise prices so we they can raise wages? Or change the laws (or change enforcement) so they can bring back those undocumented workers?
That is the low wage that they pay--and for which USCs won't work. Something will have to change.