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UCCE Sonoma County

Immigration reform and enforcement could be costly for farmers

The move toward mechanical harvesting would likely accelerate with strict immigration enforcement.
Immigration reform and stricter enforcement of current immigration laws could lead to increased mechanization in California farming and more food imports, reported the Sacramento Bee.

The story was based on research by agricultural economists at UC Davis and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The report, titled “Labor Trajectories in California’s Produce Industry,” found that changes in the way immigrant labor is regulated in the U.S. would increase the cost of labor for California's $20 billion fresh fruit, nut and vegetable industry.

“California’s produce industry depends on a constant influx of new, foreign-born laborers, and more than half of those are unauthorized laborers, primarily from Mexico,” the UC Davis news release quotes Phillip Martin, a professor of agricultural and resource economics.

“The cost of hiring these laborers will likely rise as the U.S. government ramps up enforcement of immigration laws by installing more physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border and requiring more audits of workers’ I-9 employment verification forms,” Martin said.

Read more in the current issue of the ARE Update.

Posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 10:25 AM

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