You Made Your Bed …

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

A little over a month ago, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (left) signed HB 87, an Arizona-like immigration law. The law was designed to drive illegal immigrants out of Georgia, and now state officials are shocked feigning shock that it worked.

The resulting labor shortage has meant that millions of dollars of unharvested blueberries, onions, and other crops will be left rotting in the fields. Since many farmers live harvest-to-harvest, the loss of one crop could mean the loss of their farm.

Agriculture is Georgia’s number one economic activity, so Deal called for an investigation. The results of a survey show that at least 11,000 workers will needed. More than 6,300 of the jobs pay an average of $8 an hour, have no benefits, and are even not covered by workman’s compensation.

In an effort to downplay the effect the law would have on the farm labor force, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black claimed that workers can earn $12 to $18 an hour. “Can” being the key word. However, that wage range is not reasonable. Vegetable and melon workers’ wages are near $7.78 an hour, and blueberry workers make about $6.70 an hour. These are, of course, seasonal wages.

Georgia farmers could try to solve their labor problem by offering higher wages, but passing that additional cost on to consumers would put their crops at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis other states that haven’t chased out the cheap labor. The Vidalia onion, Georgia’s official state vegetable, is going to be in scarce supply this year.

What did they think would happen? You don’t have to have a Nobel Prize in economics to have foreseen this crisis. And what is Deal’s contingency plan? He acts shocked.

H/T: AJC, Steve Benen.

57 thoughts on “You Made Your Bed …”

  1. See the California agricultural industry.

    Maybe they should bus the people from California to Georgia.
    Even though this story is from 2009 the water remains off.

    The San Joaguin Valley is the southern half of California’s Central Valley. This valley is California’s most productive agricultural area, producing 12% of our food. In their attempts to save the delta smelt, the EPA has shut off irrigation water to the valley, which has allowed the land to return to its normally arid state (made worse by the current California drought). The result is a modern “dust bowel” with farms baking in the sun while life giving water flows mere yards away from the parched fields.

    Unemployment in parts of the Valley reached 41 percent in August, according to the Fresno County Employment Development Department. It is estimated that 400,000 acres of farmland lie unplanted this year with the resulting economic impacts on the Valley’s rural communities. Residents are standing in lines for hours to receive government provided food. One great irony is they are given carrots that were shipped in from China! Food from China going to our richest agricultural region is unfathomable to me.

    http://walksalone.wordpress.com/2009/09/18/save-the-minnow-sacrifice-humans-what%E2%80%99s-wrong-with-this-picture/

  2. “Illegal immigration gets a pass because we need fruit pickers cause no one else will do that job.”

    Bdaman,

    I’m no fan of illegal immigration because I think it has been historically used to depress wages, especially after slavery was abolished. To me its’ greatest supporters have never been leftists per se, but extreme capitalists. See the California agricultural industry, as well as Georgia and other agricultural states.

  3. I am curious as to where people draw the line: if it is acceptable for “small farms” to use illegal labor to stay in business, what other illegal activities are also acceptable?

    I was thinking the exact same thing last night. What came to mind was how many times I’ve heard many commenter’s here say we are or suppose to be a nation of laws and when those laws are broken they must be enforced. Of course the main subject most make that comment on is on torture. Illegal immigration gets a pass because we need fruit pickers cause no one else will do that job.

  4. I am curious as to where people draw the line: if it is acceptable for “small farms” to use illegal labor to stay in business, what other illegal activities are also acceptable? And, is there a threshold level (e.g., gross sales) at which the acceptability ends because a farm is no longer “small?”

  5. “Raising tariffs to Chinese goods would lower the standard of living in the US by raising prices. That would lower consumer spending in other areas, including on domestic goods and services. Rather than returning jobs, tariffs might simply result in more automation in manufacturing, and not necessarily in the United States.”

    Puzzling,

    Well we’ve seen how that theory worked out. We did they opposite and wound up in the same position the proponents feared would occur from raising tariffs. God save us from the “wise men” of the world, not only are they usually wrong, but in the process they get rich and we get screwed.

  6. The reason that any alteration in the use of illegal aliens and trade policies would be so devastating for the country is that 2% of the population has half the wealth and the next 10% has most of whats left. There are only so many groceries they can eat and Tupperware bowels for the leftovers that they need after all. 🙁

  7. Mike,

    Your comment on trade reminded me of this clip from almost 20 years ago:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rkgx1C_S6ls

    Raising tariffs to Chinese goods would lower the standard of living in the US by raising prices. That would lower consumer spending in other areas, including on domestic goods and services. Rather than returning jobs, tariffs might simply result in more automation in manufacturing, and not necessarily in the United States.

    NAFTA is not free trade, it is government management of trade to favored sectors. No agreements are needed in a true free trade environment. I agree with you that these agreements should be abandoned.

  8. i first heard about this a few days ago and my first thought was like bud’s comment they’ll probably either use state prisoners or the unemployed. the problem there is they would have to bus workers into the farm areas, and what the farmers pay for the labor is not what the prisoners would receive.

    prison slave labor is an old tradition in the south and it wouldn’t take much to bring it back.

  9. It’s difficult to find decent produce in Atlanta–Georgia lacks small orchard and vegetable farms. The peanuts and peaches, the local signature crops mostly go to food processors. The “local” peaches come from South Carolina. Lumber (pulping plantations) is another major sector with “foreign” labor. The impact will be in peanut butter and peach jam rather than the produce section. Timber is a factor in other, competing states nearby.

  10. Sounds like a really good way to drive a lot of small farms out of business. If you had a deal with a friendly bank you could probably take loans to buy a lot of land cheaply under the assumption that once the law was repealed farming would become profitable again.
    If you were a legislator you could probably set it up perfectly.

  11. Next time you get pulled over just say

    “no tengo papeles” “no habla engles’

    to which the officer will say thank you, your free to go.

  12. So not only do they get a pass on TSA pat downs they can come and go as they please.

  13. ICE Amnesty Rules Already in Effect: Illegals Released in PA

    Yesterday in Pennsylvania, police released three illegals who had been charged with speeding, driving without a license, without insurance, without registration, and providing police with false identification.

  14. ICE Agent’s Union Speaks Out on Director’s “Discretionary Memo”

    “Any American concerned about immigration needs to brace themselves for what’s coming,” said Chris Crane, President of the National ICE Council which represents approximately 7,000 ICE agents, officers and employees, “this is just one of many new ICE policies in queue aimed at stopping the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws in the United States. Unable to pass its immigration agenda through legislation, the Administration is now implementing it through agency policy … ICE worked hand-in-hand with immigrants rights groups, but excluded its own officers.”

    Agents say the policy is a “law enforcement nightmare” developed by the Administration to win votes at the expense of sound and responsible law enforcement policy. “The desires of foreign nationals illegally in the United States were the framework from which these policies were developed,” Crane said, “the result is a means for every person here illegally to avoid arrest or detention, as officers we will never know who we can or cannot arrest.”

    …”Our officers are already under orders not to make arrests or even talk to foreign nationals in most cases unless another agency has already arrested them; you won’t find that written in any public ICE policy.”

    …”I think the writing is on the wall for every person concerned about good government and effective immigration reforms – the things happening at ICE represent neither, said Crane, we are asking everyone to please email or call your Congressman and Senators immediately and ask them to help stop what’s happening at ICE, we desperately need your help.”

    http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/policy-public-interest-latest-news/ice-agents-union-speaks-out-on-directors-discretionary-memo-124441368.html

  15. Athur Randolph erb: “illegals” ? Illegal whats? Oh excuse me you are talking about people.

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