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Tue Dec 11, 2012, 12:38 PM

Valley hit by worker shortage plaguing rest of U.S.

Source: visalia times

Farmers from California to New York struggled to find enough people to harvest their crops this season, a shortage they blame on federal bureaucratic requirements, a sharp decline in migrant laborers willing to cross the U.S.-Mexican border and the greater availability of non-farm work in the slowly improving economy.

State laws designed to crack down on migrant laborers, who make up the bulk of the nation’s seasonal farm workers, are also to blame, agriculture officials say.

“We see shortages in all parts of the country,” said Kristi Boswell, director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau. “Farmers are struggling with fewer bodies out there to harvest the crop. They’re definitely stressed.”

A California Farm Bureau Federation survey released this month showed widespread shortages throughout the state, especially among growers of labor-intensive crops like tree fruits, vegetables and berries. Sixty-one percent of the nearly 800 growers surveyed said they were shorthanded by a little or a lot this year.

Read more: http://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/article/20121211/ROI/312110014

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Reply Valley hit by worker shortage plaguing rest of U.S. (Original post)
AlphaCentauri Dec 2012 OP
Trillo Dec 2012 #1
Roy Rolling Dec 2012 #2
DollarBillHines Dec 2012 #5
coalition_unwilling Dec 2012 #6
DollarBillHines Dec 2012 #13
DollarBillHines Dec 2012 #46
denverbill Dec 2012 #9
DollarBillHines Dec 2012 #12
Clouseau2 Dec 2012 #15
DollarBillHines Dec 2012 #19
jody Dec 2012 #23
upaloopa Dec 2012 #31
DollarBillHines Dec 2012 #34
upaloopa Dec 2012 #41
dipsydoodle Dec 2012 #57
upaloopa Dec 2012 #29
DollarBillHines Dec 2012 #36
olddad56 Dec 2012 #37
Agnosticsherbet Dec 2012 #16
jody Dec 2012 #24
primavera Dec 2012 #58
jody Dec 2012 #60
Agnosticsherbet Dec 2012 #66
Vincardog Dec 2012 #28
primavera Dec 2012 #62
Agnosticsherbet Dec 2012 #67
Vincardog Dec 2012 #71
Agnosticsherbet Dec 2012 #72
Vincardog Dec 2012 #73
Egalitarian Thug Dec 2012 #63
Agnosticsherbet Dec 2012 #68
JDPriestly Dec 2012 #3
upaloopa Dec 2012 #35
jody Dec 2012 #4
justice1 Dec 2012 #7
kelliekat44 Dec 2012 #18
amandabeech Dec 2012 #47
julian09 Dec 2012 #8
jody Dec 2012 #11
LeftyMom Dec 2012 #22
julian09 Dec 2012 #39
LeftyMom Dec 2012 #43
TwilightGardener Dec 2012 #10
olddad56 Dec 2012 #14
happyslug Dec 2012 #56
jody Dec 2012 #17
justice1 Dec 2012 #20
jody Dec 2012 #21
justice1 Dec 2012 #40
DollarBillHines Dec 2012 #26
hedgehog Dec 2012 #30
DollarBillHines Dec 2012 #32
hedgehog Dec 2012 #38
DollarBillHines Dec 2012 #44
hedgehog Dec 2012 #49
DollarBillHines Dec 2012 #50
hedgehog Dec 2012 #51
DollarBillHines Dec 2012 #53
hedgehog Dec 2012 #54
DollarBillHines Dec 2012 #55
Trillo Dec 2012 #65
DollarBillHines Dec 2012 #69
DollarBillHines Dec 2012 #27
jody Dec 2012 #42
DollarBillHines Dec 2012 #45
fasttense Dec 2012 #25
Sekhmets Daughter Dec 2012 #33
amandabeech Dec 2012 #48
kestrel91316 Dec 2012 #52
hedgehog Dec 2012 #59
Egalitarian Thug Dec 2012 #64
jody Dec 2012 #61
Wernothelpless Dec 2012 #70

Response to AlphaCentauri (Original post)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 12:41 PM

1. Raise wages. Problem solved. NT

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Response to Trillo (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 12:46 PM

2. Simple

Yeah, they only believe in the "free market" when it drives wages down and not up.

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Response to Trillo (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 12:59 PM

5. Not if there are no takers.

In Wine Country, a lot of smaller growers had to form co-ops to pick a record harvest. Even the larger vineyards had barely half the workers they had last year.

If half of last year's force is staying in Mexico because of our bullshit laws and fucking ICE, no mount of reasonably increased wages are going to bring them back.

The same is happening with our olive crops. It has, basically, come down to friends and family.

It's just not that simple.

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Response to DollarBillHines (Reply #5)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 01:04 PM

6. Did the growers raise the wage they were offering???? If not, then I don't

 

see how your post effectively rebuts the post to which you were responding.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #6)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 01:55 PM

13. See my reply #12, below

I am 60 years old and busting my ass on hillsides.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #6)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 04:22 PM

46. Only by 50%

From $200/ton to $300.

Our Vintners Association thought that increase would help, but it didn't.

We knew that we were going to have a record harvest, and were going for slim margins and hoping to make it up on volume.

No such luck.

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Response to DollarBillHines (Reply #5)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 01:31 PM

9. Well there's the problem. 'Reasonably' increased wages.

I have a feeling your idea of 'reasonably' increased wages does nothing to change the 'free market'. My guess is those 'reasonable' wages won't support an American family.

Here's an idea. Each week take out an ad offering $1/hour more than the previous week. When you get more workers than you need, you know you have actually reached a 'reasonable' wage increase. Any other method is relying on the government to provide you cheap, imported slave-like labor.

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Response to denverbill (Reply #9)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 01:53 PM

12. We pay per ton.

Grapes are paid by the ton. We offered 25% more than last harvest and had no takers. There was nobody there. The big growers can afford to pay their people all year 'round because they spend so little post-pick. They dump the entire pick (often machine-scooped) into the hopper.

If you are drinking wine priced under $$24 (CA - $36 or more anywhere east), you are drinking earwigs, rodents, and rot.

Our post-pick costs are very high, so we cannot afford to pay people to work all year. I wish we could, but we just can't. As it is, we lose a little bit more money every year (I do not pay myself).

But we love what we do.

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Response to DollarBillHines (Reply #12)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 02:02 PM

15. How can Europe do it?

Presumably wine producers in Europe still turn a profit.

"Germans, for example, pay just $1.79 on average for a bottle (of wine)."

Why you should be drinking cheap wine

I've rarely paid more than $15 for a bottle of wine.

How come our costs are so high?

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Response to Clouseau2 (Reply #15)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 02:50 PM

19. I'll get back to you on that

GF is a wine lobbyist, representing indie wineries in NorCal. She understands all of that stuff. I'm pretty sure it has to do with subsidies.

Personally, our costs are high due to our practices (bio-diversity, hand-sorting, etc.).

Our land taxes are astronomical and fuel is outrageous.

You won't find any $1.79 German wine in the US.

It is amazing how much California wines cost on the East Coast. I was in a nice wine store in the Goldman Sachs building last night and saw our $70 Chardonnay for $160. Hell, I couldn't afford to buy my own wine in NYC.

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Response to DollarBillHines (Reply #19)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:11 PM

23. See my #17. nt

 

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Response to DollarBillHines (Reply #19)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:40 PM

31. Just a thought, don't buy the wine if you can't afford to

pay people living wage. My sister in law works for Gallo and she does alright.

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Response to upaloopa (Reply #31)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:45 PM

34. A good picker can make a couple of hundred dollars a day. nt

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Response to DollarBillHines (Reply #34)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 04:04 PM

41. How many days a year is that

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Response to Clouseau2 (Reply #15)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 07:13 PM

57. Your link reminds me

of an article I read about wine in restaurants. The article suggested you should always ask for just the house wine. If the house wine turns out to crap then the food will probably be so too.

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Response to DollarBillHines (Reply #5)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:32 PM

29. Why are there so many people growing grapes?

I use to see open pastures dotted with oak trees. Now all you see is grapes for miles and miles and wine tasting signs everywhere. I think some times farmers are their own worst enemy.

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Response to upaloopa (Reply #29)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:47 PM

36. Because wine consumption is through the roof.

There are wineries in every State (including Alaska), and we still cannot keep up with demand.

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Response to upaloopa (Reply #29)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:48 PM

37. really, they should all be growing pot.

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Response to Trillo (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 02:02 PM

16. How much more are you willing to pay for food?

By keeping wages low, the cost of food is artificially kept low.

Allowing wages to increase until a pool of people willing to work regularly to harvest food develops will also lead to increased prices at the store for everything people consume. Those farms that can develop and use mechanical equipment for harvesting will boom, and farms that require human workers will fail.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #16)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:13 PM

24. How do you deal with the seasonal nature of planting, cultivating, and harvesting? nt

 

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Response to jody (Reply #24)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 07:48 PM

58. Excellent point

This has always been another advantage of migrant labor: they are willing to travel from region to region to harvest whatever happens to be in season at the time. Wages paid to agricultural workers aren't great, but they're better than the minimum wage paid to the people working at places like MalWart. The big difference is that most American workers want some stability in their lives, they don't want to have to pick strawberries in Oregon one month, apples in Washington the next, asparagus in California the next, etc..

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Response to primavera (Reply #58)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 08:27 PM

60. Exactly. nt

 

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Response to jody (Reply #24)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 10:38 PM

66. Historically there was a pool of low wage migrant labor that followed the seasons.

In the west, back to the 1840's, it was hispanic. In the midwest and east, it was poor whites and blacks that followed the harvest.

As Mechanical forms of harvesting were developed, they naturally moved to forms of agriculture that could not be easily harvested. There are still many agricultural products that work best with a human touch. As mechanical harvesting equipment has been invented, it has always taken the jobs of human workers. Machines are cheaper.

I suspect we have reached the point with technology where robots will replace human workers. We are not quite there yet, but within a decade I suspect most crops will be harvested by robots.

I every case, this will take the jobs of human beings.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #16)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:30 PM

28. I have heard this crap before. The cost to pay a reasonable wage to harvest is less that

the cost to wash the trucks.

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Response to Vincardog (Reply #28)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 08:37 PM

62. Kind of depends upon what one considers reasonable, doesn't it?

I did some research into this topic for my job a while back and found that migrant workers in California get paid on average about $10/hr. Not great, but better than the minimum wage many Americans work for. Also significant is that labor is the single greatest cost in agriculture. The land and materials cost next to nothing, and, unlike Wall Street, farmers don't enjoy $50 million/year compensation packages. You want to kick the wage paid to farm workers up to a level sufficient to persuade the average American worker to live a nomadic life, moving from harvest to harvest, breaking their backs under the blazing sun, there will be an increase in food costs to consumers. And that might be a good thing, I'm not saying that we shouldn't do precisely that. But I think you're mistaken to believe that you could substantially increase the wages paid to farm workers without it causing ripples in consumer prices.

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Response to Vincardog (Reply #28)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 10:44 PM

67. You are talking about several million workers.

Increasing the cost of labor increases the cost of the product. And that cost will be passed on to the consumer.

But you seem to think I am opposed to better wages for agricultural workers. I think they should be paid more, but we should also expect that our food will cost more as a result. The current low wages keep food at an unnaturally low level.

I accept paying more for my food if it means better wagers for laborers. Will you?

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #67)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 02:29 PM

71. I will gladly pay the extra 2% that doubling ag workers pay would add to my food bill. Your

concern for the plight of the poor is noted.

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Response to Vincardog (Reply #71)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 03:09 PM

72. Your belief that only 2% increase will accrue...

as each layer of middlemen see the increase in costs and use it as a reason to raise prices more is noted.

That kind of faith in faceless middlemen is amazing.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #72)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 05:42 PM

73. One of us seems to be defending the status quo. I like the way you put words in my mouth

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #16)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 08:56 PM

63. Not true. The biggest factor in food prices is the overhead of non-productive corporate

 

bureaucracy and the chain of middlemen. Double workers wages and food prices might rise 1% - 2%.

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #63)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 10:49 PM

68. But the cost will be passed to you and me.

Those middlemen will not suffer a bit.
And if your figures are correct, that 1 to 2 percent will most adversely impact the poor.

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Response to AlphaCentauri (Original post)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 12:53 PM

3. Does the state pay for the healthcare, etc. for farm workers or do

farm-owners/employers pay for the healthcare, etc. of the farmworkers.

California is not particularly anti-immigrant. In fact, we are a state with a huge number of immigrants. If the state is cracking down on migrant laborers, I'm wondering whether it might be part of its efforts to save money.

Maybe emergency room visits by migrant workers have become a bit expensive for the state budget?

I don't know. I'm just wondering. Also, who pays for the education of the children of migrant workers? That too may be coming out of the state budget in that some of California's school and public services costs paid in other states from local tax revenue are paid (at least in part) from state tax funds. California has been trying to get better balance in its budget in these tough time. Maybe our state just can't afford so many migrant workers any more.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #3)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:46 PM

35. The burden is pushed onto the counties. I work for Santa Barbara County

Our clinics are filled with farm workers.
Wine drinkers should be willing to pay more to pay living wage. Start at the top and work down. You will find plenty of money that could be going to wages.

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Response to AlphaCentauri (Original post)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 12:54 PM

4. Low wages are not the problem, it's hard physical labor and sometimes being paid by the unit. Those

 

who look down upon workers who are paid by the unit wouldn't last a day in the fields and even then earn only a couple of dollars.

I've worked in the fields for hourly wages and by the unit.

People who shop at markets have no idea how much sweat and labor are behind a pack of strawberries they buy for a pittance.

I recommend " Trampling Out the Vintage: Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers"

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Response to AlphaCentauri (Original post)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 01:05 PM

7. They are looking for permission to abuse people.

Almost everyone I associate with is tied to farming. They don't rely on migrant workers here in my small town. The workers do put in longer hours during harvest, but that doesn't mean working morning until night in the heat, and giving up weekends. Usually if harvesting at night, it's the farmer, not the labor doing the work. It's also expected for the farmer to take his crew out for lunch, at the owners expense. They treat their employees with respect, and keep them for years.

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Response to justice1 (Reply #7)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 02:24 PM

18. And how many of these farmers need cheap labor because they are working for agri-corporations that

pay little or no taxes, gouge the farmer as well as the consumer?

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Response to justice1 (Reply #7)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 04:45 PM

47. My home area is agricultural. The big crops are asparagus, cherries and apples.

Asparagus and apples are picked by hand. Cherries are "shaken"--a piece of tractor-like machinery grabs the trunk of the tree and surround the bottom of the tree with what looks like two butterfly wing shaped nets strung on frames. The grabbing arm shakes the trunk vigorously, and I mean vigorously, and the cherries fall in the net.

Asparagus and apple harvests are long hours, but the workers normally get a little time off.

Red tart pie cherries are very, very delicate fruits. The farmers get paid by the pound, and the cherries are a little heavier at night and in the morning, without evapotranspiration, so many cherries are shaken from midnight to 10 a.m. to get a little more money. No one gets a day off during the cherry harvest, but it only lasts about 10 days.

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Response to AlphaCentauri (Original post)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 01:20 PM

8. Tomatoes at $4 AND SOME close to five dollars a pound.

 

Some are a pound each, apples $1.50 a pound, grapes $3.00 lb, potatoes $4 to $4.50 for 5 lbs etc. How many one pound tomatoes can you pick in eight hours. Give the workers a living wage and they might even get natives to do the work. Harvesting has always been a
tough way to make a living, nothing new there. Prices go up on everything except labor. How many subsidies do the co ops get to grow or not grow stuff?

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Response to julian09 (Reply #8)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 01:46 PM

11. Do co ops receive subsidies for the crops experiencing labor shortages? Except for tobacco which is

 

no longer subsidized, the crops below are harvested by mechanical means.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricultural_subsidy#United_States

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Response to julian09 (Reply #8)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:01 PM

22. Of course tomatoes are $4, it's December.

It takes a lot of fuel to either produce summer-like conditions or transport tomatoes from someplace where it's still summery enough to grow tomatoes in December.

No idea why you're paying so much for potatoes, that's highway robbery.

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Response to LeftyMom (Reply #22)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:59 PM

39. Bananas are cheap about .59c to .80c a pound and come from much further away and tropical climates.

 

How come tomato juice and spaghetti sauce, etc prices don't vary that much. How many $4 tomatoes fit in big semi. How about cherry tomatoes. I plant a half dozen plants a year, good for two and half months and year of production.
The point is how much of $4 to $5 a tomato is the picker getting for the back breaking work, less than a penny? I know a guy who delivers fruit from CT to NYC or MD , BUFFALO, NY, from big depot, I'd rather be the driver than picker.

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Response to julian09 (Reply #39)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 04:06 PM

43. Tomato juice and spaghetti sauce are cheap because they're canned when tomatoes are naturally ripe,

near where they were originally picked.

In season your fresh tomatoes probably come from somewhere nearby, this time of year they're coming up from Florida or Mexico. And yeah, those workers don't make shit, but they didn't make shit in Florida or Mexico in the summer either when you could buy tomatoes for a dollar a pound. The reason you're paying so much for tomatoes right now is axial tilt.

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Response to AlphaCentauri (Original post)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 01:46 PM

10. Who wants to be a migrant?

Even if they raised the pay a little and/or the work didn't run you down or wreck you after a week or two, you would have little quality of life chasing the harvests and living in temporary quarters. No stability. Might be OK for the young and single, but that's about it.

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Response to AlphaCentauri (Original post)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 02:01 PM

14. California Farm Bureau Federation, what is this important sounding agency?

It is nothing more than a lobbying organization that represents the interests of corporate farming in CA. It is not, as the name implies, a government entity.

http://www.cfbf.com/about/index.cfm

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Response to AlphaCentauri (Original post)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 02:03 PM

17. Posts to this thread show little to no understanding of the problems facing agriculture both

 

employers and employees.

There are major differences between crops, e.g. wheat from the plains vs strawberries from the Imperial Valley.

Some crops can be harvested with machines and others only by skilled labor.

"Trampling Out the Vintage: Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers" is an excellent source for understanding problems in California.

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Response to jody (Reply #17)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 02:52 PM

20. Despite what you might think, we do have everything from grapes to orchards here.

Most people here, grow more than one crop, it's not only better for the soil, it allows different planting and harvest seasons, requiring fewer employees, but steadier work.

Many of the temporary workers, have other full-time jobs, it's just extra money for them. While some of the others jump from farmer to farmer, because not everyone harvests at the same time. I also know farmers, that work for other farmers.

Rather than letting it rot, why don't they get groups of teenagers to harvest the fields on the weekends? They used to do that during the summer, when the corn needed to be de-tasseled, and it paid above minimum wage.

The people that are complaining have gotten away with cheap labor for so long, they seem to feel entitled to exploit others.

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Response to justice1 (Reply #20)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 02:58 PM

21. I'm not sure "teenagers to harvest the fields on the weekends" is a viable option for some crops. nt

 

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Response to jody (Reply #21)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 04:03 PM

40. It would allow their workforce to have some time off, and my kids have done it without problems.

They met in the morning at the school, loaded up busses, and the work was done faster than anticipated. In fact, my kids have been driving and working since they were 14, they found ways to make money.

I have the feeling no matter what is suggested it's going to fall on deaf ears, because to some the only answer is migrant workers.

I am still waiting to here how much the pay is in the places that can't get help, that always seems to get left out of these articles.

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Response to justice1 (Reply #20)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:24 PM

26. Teenagers in vineyards? Recipe for disaster.

No vineyard would allow inexperienced workers to pick grapes.

I cannot even imagine what would happen to the crop.

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Response to DollarBillHines (Reply #26)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:32 PM

30. So, what's the going rate for a skilled grape harvester?

I worked at an onion packing house briefly. I knew what we were paid on the dock for hand selected onions, and what the grocery stores were selling them for. We could have doubled what we charged, and it would have been a nickel a pound at the consumer's end!

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #30)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:43 PM

32. We were offering $300/ton, up from $200 last Harvest

Six guys can pick 10-14 tons per day. The vineyard management company gets half, the pickers get the rest.

A really good picker can make a couple of hundred bucks a day, simply picking grapes.

We got no takers.

The real process starts after the harvest.

There's not a lot of romance in it.

If people could only appreciate just what goes into a glass of good wine.

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Response to DollarBillHines (Reply #32)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:59 PM

38. OK, let's take that apart a little -

Six guys pick say 14 tons, so that's $4200. But half of that goes to the "vineyard management company" , whatever the hell that is. Sounds to me like a 50% kickback of each worker's wages to some jobber.


So that leaves , $2100

Split 6 ways - $350.

Say it takes a week to complete the harvest - $2450 for a week's pay.

How many hours is that? I'm guessing 7 - 12 hour days of back breaking labor.

It comes with full dental and medical, right?

It comes with a 401K, right?

BTW, what are those workers earning at your vineyard next month? $2450 sounds like a lot, but when it's the last big pay check for the next three or four or six months........

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #38)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 04:15 PM

44. I'll try to explain...

Six guys pick say 14 tons, so that's $4200. But half of that goes to the "vineyard management company" , whatever the hell that is. Sounds to me like a 50% kickback of each worker's wages to some jobber.

Vineyard management is twelve months a year. Growing grapes is a science, not alchemy (well, maybe a bit of alchemy and luck).

So that leaves , $2100

Split 6 ways - $350.

Say it takes a week to complete the harvest - $2450 for a week's pay.

Our harvest took a month.

How many hours is that? I'm guessing 7 - 12 hour days of back breaking labor.

We pick around six hours a day. You can't pick fine fruit once the daytime temps kick in.

It comes with full dental and medical, right?

We cover any and all medical issues that arise (and they do, falls, equipment issues, snakebites, etc.).

It comes with a 401K, right?

Get real, it's farming, y'know.

BTW, what are those workers earning at your vineyard next month? $2450 sounds like a lot, but when it's the last big pay check for the next three or four or six months........

In years past, they made enough to support their families in Mexico until the next harvest

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Response to DollarBillHines (Reply #44)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 05:24 PM

49. "In years past, they made enough to support their families in Mexico until the next harvest"

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #49)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 05:33 PM

50. That's just what they do

This ain't Utopia, it is the Real World.

Heck, we used to pay for medical care for their kids in Mexico, too.

Vineyards take far better care of their workers than any other businesses I am aware of.

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Response to DollarBillHines (Reply #50)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 06:08 PM

51. It's the Real World, but people need to understand where cheap food comes from.

The dairy farmers around here barely get by, and they depend on undocumented laborers, but no one wants to pay a fair price for milk.

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #51)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 06:26 PM

53. The dairy farmers are getting hosed

It is a damned shame what is going on with dairy.

There should be massive inquiries on that subject. While I am a grape farmer, I could go militant and radical on the subject of independent dairymen.

They are being undone by agra, driven out of multi-generational businesses by powers they can never match. Out here, we lose more independent dairymen every month. I know them, personally, and it just kills me. Just this year, I have lost three friends. The coroner called them natural deaths, but we all know the truth.

What is happening to them is just criminal.

Poultry production is already fucked and eggs are next.

Our industry has been severely impacted, but the mass agra and conglomerates don't understand fine wines.

Not yet, anyway.

I am hedging (hedgehog) my bets with hops.

If you don't mind, could you tell me what State (geographically, not mentally) you are in?

Lets all support our local farmers.
DBH

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Response to DollarBillHines (Reply #53)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 06:31 PM

54. I'm in Upstate New York, near Lake Ontario.

This is a very depressed area - unemployment around 10% while boom times were on elsewhere. When I worked at the onion packers, the other employees were young high school grads, single mothers desperate for work and two young men who walked through the Arizona desert on their way here from Mexico......

The single mothers and the young men from Mexico were the most dependable workers.

Another true story - we had a guy who worked at the steel mill to supplement his income as a dairy farmer. He sat down one day and figured out the mill job was all that was keeping the dairy operation going!

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #54)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 06:44 PM

55. Heh, we are in Ryebrook (near White Plains) for a few days.

Meeting with wineries from Finger Lakes and Long Island.

We truly believe that the Industry is becoming strong enough to affect immigration reform. After all, we are in all 50 states and are the fastest growing segment of agriculture.

Once the wineries can get to common ground, we can stir up some shit.

And, once that happens, who knows where we can take it?

Dang, hedgehog, the conversation between the two of us has certainly gone full-circle.

Your account of the guy, the steel mill job and his farm rings so sadly true.
DBH

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Response to DollarBillHines (Reply #44)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 10:21 PM

65. So there are six guys picking. Are there six guys and gals at the management company?

Last edited Tue Dec 11, 2012, 11:05 PM - Edit history (1)

If the managment company is taking 50%, then it seems to suggest there are about the same number of folks managing, as there are picking. Is that the case?

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Response to Trillo (Reply #65)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 11:04 AM

69. I don't know the number

I would imagine there are dozens of people who work for them.

Vineyard management is critical to the success of our operation. Except for the monster wineries and conglomerates, it is all subbed out.
We oversee our operation, but they provide the heavy equipment, irrigation work, bird netting, mechanical repair, etc.

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Response to jody (Reply #17)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:28 PM

27. Nail on the head

See #26, below.

I am amazed by some of the replies in this thread. The naivete exhibited in some of these reminds me of some of our CA legislators.

The vast majority of Americans have zero idea of what farmers are up against.
DBH

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Response to DollarBillHines (Reply #27)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 04:04 PM

42. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said farmings “becoming less and less relevant”. His statement is

 

not consistent with our party platform.

Agriculture. An agricultural economy built to last is integral to the affordability of our food, the independence of our energy supply, and the security of America’s middle class. Democrats support agriculture from the small farms that feed the community to the large farms that feed the world. Under President Obama, American farmers are seeing record farm income, record agricultural exports, and millions of acres enrolled in conservation programs. President Obama has expanded markets for American goods that help support more than a million agriculture jobs here at
home. And in the past few years, agriculture has been one of the fastest-growing parts of our economy, creating one out of every 12 American jobs.

Democrats appreciate agriculture’s role in securing America’s food security and making our country an ambassador of food aid to countries across the world. That’s why Democrats support a strong farm safety net, with increased availability of crop insurance and emergency disaster assistance to help farmers and ranchers keep their farms in business after natural disasters and crop loss. Democrats are also planning for a strong agricultural future, and President Obama has proposed increasing funding

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Response to jody (Reply #42)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 04:18 PM

45. No shit?

He almost makes me miss Earl Butts.

Let him come to California and spout that nonsense.

That crap makes me ill.

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Response to AlphaCentauri (Original post)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:19 PM

25. I worked my way through college picking flowers in Florida

and I now run my own farm.

When farmers in Florida stopped paying decent wages, I stopped picking and started bar tending.

Now, I run my own farm and hire part time. Last summer I paid over $11 an hour for part-time labor and I had no problems getting workers.

These farmers complaining about not having enough workers are either really stupid or really greedy, or maybe both.

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Response to fasttense (Reply #25)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:45 PM

33. You cannot compare Florida

to California. The cost of keeping body and soul together in CA is much higher. FL has always been a low wage environment so if you're paying $11. an hour there, the workers think they have struck gold.

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Response to AlphaCentauri (Original post)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 05:05 PM

48. In the '50s and '60s in my home area, you'd see lots of Mexican plates

around town during the fruit and vegetable harvests.

Things changed in the late '60s and early '70s. Mexicans were not allowed to cross the border freely without a work permit, and the conditions of the work and housing were upped tremendously (thank heavens--some farmers, not all by any means, were really taking advantage of the Mexicans.)

Farmers then had to contract for laborers with a middleman. The workers then came in under an "H" visa that was good for a few months around the harvest.

Most farmers did not like the arrangement, because they had to do paperwork in the winter to get the workers, and some didn't like having to clean up their migrant housing. A few farmers had disgraceful quarters, but others had housing that passed local housing ordinances. The federal migrant housing standards exceeded local standards.

Perhaps the "H" program will come back.

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Response to AlphaCentauri (Original post)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 06:13 PM

52. Is this why tree nuts are running about $20/lb these days??

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Response to kestrel91316 (Reply #52)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 07:59 PM

59. American fruit and vegetable farmers are now in competition with foreign suppliers for the domestic

market. Is it wonder that they are forced to pay low wages?


At the same time, would everyone else have tolerated their stagnant wages so long if we all didn't have access to cheap food?

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #59)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 09:10 PM

64. You've hinted at what has and is happening. Government subsidies (corporate welfare) has so

 

completely skewed farm economics that nobody has any idea what any crop is worth. Add futures speculation to the mix and we have utter chaos.

But that's OK, we've made a few more billionaires, so who cares?

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Response to kestrel91316 (Reply #52)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 08:36 PM

61. Russia is in the WTO now and a customer for almonds and other nuts. nt

 

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Response to AlphaCentauri (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 11:12 AM

70. With tight borders they've lost that next generation to exploit for cheap labor ...

The second, third, and fourth generation of Hispanic kids are changing ... they're not going to pick oranges in that freezing fog and red clay mud in the valley anymore as their parents, grandparents, and great grandparents did ...

Let's see if the big corporate farmers can get THEIR own kids and grandkids to pick the fruit ... they killed all the small family farms ... now what, Sunkist and Shell Oil? ... LOL! ... who you gonna bleed for profit? ...

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