Ag Employers Cry Wolf on Immigration

By Mark Krikorian on June 13, 2012

Business owners testified before the Senate against a measure that would "paralyze the country", the passage of which would "stop my machines", leading to a situation where "investors would never receive another dividend".

The bill placed limits on child labor. The year was 1916.

Keep that in mind next time you hear that immigration enforcement results in crops "rotting in the fields" (hashtag #RITF). John Carney at CNBC rightly calls it "another phony farm crisis", noting that "never before in American history have farms been this financially sound and profitable." In Alabama specifically, supposedly the epicenter of last year's crop-rotting due to the flight of illegal aliens from the state's new immigration law, crops receipts were up 38 percent in 2011 from the prior year, to $1.13 billion. With regard to fresh vegetables, a tiny share of the state's ag sector but where the illegal labor is concentrated and where all the crop-rotting was supposed to be taking place, the value of production was up 5 percent.

And in Georgia, where illegal aliens are also said to be the only workers available to ag, transitional prison inmates, preparing to return to society, are being successfully employed on the state's Vidalia onion farms. As farmer Wayne Durrence put it: "They've worked out real good. Some of them even said when they get out, they may come back and work for me, you know maybe next year. They have really worked out good."

Contrast that with the claim last year by Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) regarding Vidalia onions:

"You better buy all you can this year," he told about 50 people at a Town Hall meeting in Senoia on Thursday. Next year, he predicted, "there's not going to be anybody to pick them."


Maybe that's why it's unwise to rely on the economic predictions of politicians.