Under the headline “Illegal Immigration Is Down, Changing the Face of California Farms,” the New York Times wrote:
The changing demographics have caused farmers to scramble to bring in higher-paying foreign workers with temporary guest-worker visas. They also want to experiment with automation whenever they can, and even replace crops with less labor-intensive options.
“Back in the day, you had people galore,” said Vanessa Quinlan, director of Human Resources for Sabor Farms.
“We are living on borrowed time,” declared Dave Puglia, the president of the Western Growers trade association, an important farm lobby across the Western United States. “I want half the produce harvest mechanized in 10 years — there's no other solution,” the president said to The New York Times.
Robots and automation will mean that American companies and workers are able to complete more tasks in less time and consequently earn higher salaries for their families and themselves.
But many specialty-crop farmers as well as Wall Street are still hoping for a cheap labor bailout from the federal authorities. For instance, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) has an orchard and has been pushing for the passage of the ill-named Farm Workforce Modernization Act. The bill would grant orchard owners access to more low-wage labor migrant workers in exchange for the right to allow these migrants to obtain green cards and participate in future elections.
For decades, the agricultural firms that produced fresh produce and other specialty crops like strawberries, apples, raspberries, and asparagus, to mention some examples, were able not to invest in automated machinery and instead rely on laborers. This was made possible by the legislators from the farm community as well as the federal government and a lot of left-wing progressives who let the companies hire an unlimited flow of illegal immigrants.
The result is that certain crops have disappeared completely from U.S. fields as domestic producers were beaten out by farmers in Mexico which employed even cheaper labor. In Europe, where wages are more expensive, European tech companies have created a variety of robots and machines to pick their crop, including leeks and asparagus.
However, U.S. fresh-produce companies are still relying on stoop labor, often with cheers from Democrats:
U.S. farm companies are losing market share to modern, high-tech “vertical farms” which grow food products in warehouses using artificial lighting:.
In the past decade, the farm industry has tried to deter in the process by hiring numerous H-2A visa employees to lower their costs for labor.
However, Democrats oppose the H-2A visa because many of the workers head home and do not attempt to become citizens therefore Democrats are a bit hesitant to support the program. D.C. and the state capitals have allowed H-2A salaries and benefits to increase far over the cost of illegal immigrants. “We need real immigration reform in this country for a pathway to citizenship,” Labor Secretary Mary Walsh told a House committee on May 17. “Not H-2B visas, H-2A visas, not those visas — that's not immigration.”
Many Republicans are also in favor of more low-cost labor for their local donors even though the principal goal of this policy is to provide more investment, labor, and wealth to coastal cities. “We have people that need workers,” Senator. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) said on MSNBC on April 1st. “Whether it's physicians, engineers, or laborers in factories or fields, there is a growing demand.”
The majority of the illegal migrants who are allowed in between 2021-2022 due to Biden's liberal border policy are expected to be with their relatives in the major cities. For instance, The New York Times reported on May 30 on the regular discrimination against migrants in the construction industry of New York:
In the year 2018 Marco Martinez, the teen who had just arrived from Ecuador, was killed when he was struck against the ceiling with a mechanical lift. One year later, Michael Daves, who was a resident of a men's shelter and was dealing with addiction issues, was killed after falling into a hole.
Now, Yonin Pineda, 29 years old from Guatemala, is unconscious and seriously injured. His tireless Mexican foreman Mauricio Sanchez, 41 is lying dead beside his body, with his face cut and his chest ripped open and his blood stainin g the broken concrete.
Three of the deceased workers lived along the city's edges. The three were illegal immigrants: two were homeless. The last death was the only one to receive some local coverage and it was brief. The men did not have union representation.
Thus, the post-Trump cutback in migration will leave the U.S. production of many specific crops in a state of decline due to their long-running, short-sighted dependence on cheap labor that is facilitated by the government.
The”row crop” sector of U.S. agriculture is highly technologically advanced, allowing every person to create a large quantity of products every day, for instance the cotton crop.
In the wake of rising wages, the dairy industry is investing more in robots. For instance, Rural Migration News reported in April that:
The dairy industry in Idaho is growing. In the year 2020, 280 dairy farms, with an average 7300 workers were reported to QCEW which was an average of 26 employees for every dairy with an average of between 2,000 and two hundred cows. Idaho is home to about 650,000 dairy cows, making use of robotics and other technologies. The ratio of cows to workers can be greater than 100. The average weekly wage in the dairy industry was $750 in the year 2020, which was up 22 percent from the $615 wage in 2015.
U.S. meatpackers are also in the shadow of foreign competitors. Rural Migration News reported in January 2021:
Automation in meatpacking is higher-tech across China as well as Europe. Danish Crown has a more automated pork processing facility located in Horsens (Denmark) that employs robotics that kill and bleed and take meat off carcasses. In the Danish Crown, the number of hogs processed each week is 60. That is more than double the 30 hogs processed per worker at Smithfield plants. Prestage Farms in Eagle Grove, Iowa has opened an automated processing facility for pork using European equipment, which produces similar 60 hogs processed per week for worker efficiency.
The “fresh produce” specialty crop sector is not as advanced as other U.S. economic sectors in the field of automation.
About 20% of the specialty harvests will be automated in 2025, as per the report of the Western Growers Association. The group's aim is to “automate 50 percent of the harvest in the U.S.” in 2031,” the report stated.
“80% of growers invested in the automation of pre-harvest activities, and 55% in harvest assist devices, but only 30% in harvesting,” Rural Migration News announced in March 2022.
One of the largest fruits – strawberries, is a non-automated crop that requires no the process of harvesting. However, a handful of firms are making progress:
The illegal immigrants are feeling threatened by the latest wave of robots as well as the better-paying H-2A visa applicants.
Jose Luis Hernendez, a native of Ejutla Oaxaca, moved to Mexico and the United States when he was just acteen, which was more than fifteen years ago. He now resides in Stockton where he works on the vineyards of Lodi and Napa … He is worried about the future. “It scares me that they are coming with H-2As and also with robots,” He stated. “That's going to take us down.”
While this is happening, China is also developing high-tech agriculture.