The immigration bill that was killed by the U.S. Senate focused on the nation's 12 million illegal aliens. To many farmers, the issue is more about such people as Thomas Murphy, an Irishman who leads a crew of combine operators from the U.K., cutting wheat across a swath of the Great Plains.One wonders about a country that would rather let wheat rot in the fields over admitting productive foreigners into America so that they can be part of the harvest. After all, what lobby thinks that it benefits from barring such labor from entering the country?
Murphy's crew and 2,500 other skilled, legal immigrants who come from places such as South Africa, Australia and New Zealand to cut grain are among the most productive workers in the U.S., gathering one-third of all the wheat in a $7.7 billion market.
That's why farmers and the companies that hire the crews say Congress's failure last week to overhaul the immigration laws will heighten an already intense labor shortage by preventing them from importing more of the English-speaking workers, even as the need for them grows. That may lower crop yields, raise food prices and force some growers out of business, they say.
"You'll have labor that simply doesn't get done,'' U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said in a June 28 interview after the Senate rejected the legislation. "We have a system that doesn't work very well, so they're really struggling." [Alan Bjerga, Bloomberg]
Thursday, July 05, 2007
More immigration woes
Congress' failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform is exacerbating a labor shortage in agriculture, reports Bloomberg News.
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 9:35 AM