Americans Are Eating More Fruit and Vegetables, But US Production is Down
While Americans are consuming more fresh fruit and vegetables (about 10 percent more), US farm production of fresh vegetables has declined (3.5 percent). Several farmers, local politicians and big business bosses are banding together and blaming the inadequacies of the H-2A temporary agricultural visa program for the market share gap. Their solution: immigration reform, of course. (Farmers often have difficulty finding US-born or unemployed local workers willing to fill available farm labor jobs. Therefore, many farmers want to increase opportunities for eligible immigrants to enter the workforce so they can keep pace with rising consumer demand.) Total US farm worker employment is falling at a time when farm worker wages have been increasing.
The Partnership for a New American Economy, a bipartisan group of 500 mayors (including former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, San Antonio’s Julian Castro and Philadelphia’s Michael Nutter) and business leaders (including Rupert Murdoch, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, Boeing’s James McNerney) intends to influence policymakers at this week’s National Press Club with a new report that outlines how labor shortages are affecting farming and slowing US economic growth, e.g. “labor alone can explain as much as $3.3 billion in missed GDP growth in 2012.” If Congress again makes no progress on immigration reform, farmers and growers will continue to use H-2A workers--the stopgap program's inefficiencies saddling the industry with a competitive disadvantage. It usually takes two months or more to get workers to the jobs from the time of application.
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