In the wake of the crackdown on illegal immigration, many farm owners have been left short-handed because they don’t have any individuals who are willing to accept the low pay that often accompanies harvesting vegetables and crops. Mauren Torrey, owner of Torrey Farms, Inc. in Elba, New York, told The Miami Herald that she relies on undocumented farmers to “pick, package and ship their cabbage, cucumbers, squash, green beans and onions throughout the nation.” With peak harvest season on the way, Torrey is currently unable to find people to help her harvest the crops.
According to the source, the American Farm Bureau Federation projects $5 billion to $9 billion in annual produce industry losses because similar labor shortages that Torrey is dealing with are continuing to be an issue. Torrey told the source that it used to be much different before the laws started getting stricter and smuggler fees started to rise.
The Associated Press recently reported that since the laws were implemented, many migrant workers without U.S. citizenship have been avoiding working on farms such as Torrey’s. The Post reports that migrant farmers are extremely important to the agriculture industry, which is one of the most significant industries in the United States. According to the source, farmers that are native to the U.S. aren’t as skilled as immigrants.
Director of Labor Affairs for the California Farm Bureau Federation, Bryan Little, told The Miami Herald that farms in California are reporting a 30 to 40 percent decrease in labor applicants. He told the source that cherry growers have acres that have gone unpicked.
While there is no way of telling what the future holds for farmers in the U.S., and Little said the outlook for future harvests doesn’t look promising.
“Generally, what I hear [lately] is that if you need 10 crews to harvest 40 acres of strawberries, [yet most farmers] only have seven. If you need a crew of 10 people, then you only have six or seven. It varies, depending on where you are in the state.”