Immigration reform hits farmers in California

In the fight for comprehensive immigration reform in the United States, farmers in California are among the primary employers who have to deal with the consequences.  Many have had to cancel their harvesting due to a lack of workers, resulting in losses of several thousand dollars.

The Los Angeles Times says that Rayne Pegg, who is the head of the policy division of the California Farm Bureau, claims that around two thirds of the crop workers in the state are undocumented immigrants.

Mark Teixeira, a farmer who is based in Santa Maria, says that last year he was forced to allow 22 acres of vegetables to just rot due to the fact that there were simply not enough workers available to help him with the harvesting of his crops.  A lot of native-born workers in the United States are reluctant to take jobs in agriculture, even those who may have grown up in the farming industry.  The reality is also that harvesting is a highly skilled and high-labor job for which a lot of people simply will not be qualified.

“I’m not proud to say I hire illegal aliens,” says Teixeira, whose family has been involved with farming for five generations now.  “Everyone has to show ‘documentation’.  But I don’t work for the (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement).  Bottom line, if I have to verify everyone, I’m not going to be able to harvest my crop.”  It is likely that California farmers are now experiencing greater difficulty finding workers in comparison to just a few years ago, thanks to higher security at the border.