Farmers are suffering for lack of labor

There was an excellent article in The Sun describing American fields ripe for harvest that are not getting picked because of a shortage of immigrants ("Labor shortages plague farms," July 7). The American Farm Bureau Federation projects $5 billion to $9 billion in annual produce industry losses because of "the labor shortages which have become commonplace for farmers" who claimed "there were 10 applicants for every job five years ago" and now must hire anybody who shows up. The cause of this labor shortage is said to be, among other things, "a crackdown on illegal immigration."

If this is truly the case, why aren't anti-immigrant nativist activists and politicians like Del. Pat McDonough, Brad Botwin of Help Save Maryland, and Rep. Roscoe Bartlett celebrating? They should be doing a victory lap now that acres of cabbage, cucumbers, squash, green beans, onions and cherries are rotting on the stalks, vines and branches. This is what they want, isn't it? Yet Mr. Bartlett contends he is still worried about having too many illegal immigrants.

The American workers with whom these pols claim solidarity were always told that the high unemployment rate would result in legal American workers coming to rescue these farmers if their immigrant enforcement and harassment provisions worked as planned. That doesn't appear to be happening. The Sun tells us why; "[a] harvester has to be conditioned like an NFL football player has to be conditioned to get out on the field ... working eight to 10 hours a day in the heat, stooping, lifting and picking."

That's understating the fitness requirements of a harvester. Football players do not play 10-hour games and can rest between downs, instant replays, touchdown celebrations and commercials. Almost none of them play all the downs on defense and offense. And although harvesters do not have violent collisions, I've never heard of a football player contracting Lyme disease on the field. There are orchards in Mr. Bartlett's district that have had 100-degree heat for the last 11 days.

One bone to pick with the article is the concern for the low percentage of employers who were "satisfied" with the H-2A seasonal visas program. I'd like to see how many workers were "satisfied" that they were treated fairly.

Paul R. Schlitz Jr., Baltimore

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • GOP must stick to its guns on immigration, Homeland Security budget
    GOP must stick to its guns on immigration, Homeland Security budget

    Some thoughts on your editorial regarding the U.S. Department of Homeland Security budget while basking in climate cooling ("No time to make America less safe," Feb. 16). First, why is it OK for the Democrats to filibuster and not pay a price when the GOP would be blasted for the same...

  • We need data, not guesses on the economics of immigration
    We need data, not guesses on the economics of immigration

    John Fritze and Luke Broadwater's article "Baltimore weighs in on immigration lawsuit" ("Jan. 24) does an excellent job of identifying some of the potential economic pros and cons of undocumented immigrants living in our communities. It discusses "a federal lawsuit that has divided state and...

  • What is immigration costing Md.?
    What is immigration costing Md.?

    I read with interest The Sun's article, "More school money sought" (Jan. 12). The article notes that the superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools is requesting an 8.7 percent increase in the school budget. In part, the increase is needed due to "an influx of children in need" and "to...

  • Immigration standoff
    Immigration standoff

    There is something truly unsavory about targeting for deportation immigrant children — particularly those known by the shorthand of "dreamers" who were brought to this country at a young age by their parents — but that was the priority of House Republicans last week. Not all in...

  • Alexander Hamilton was undocumented
    Alexander Hamilton was undocumented

    If an orphaned 17-year-old born out of wedlock to a Scottish father and a French mother on the island of Nevis in the British West Indies arrived in New York City by ship today, would he be deported?

  • Don't finance amnesty
    Don't finance amnesty

    Funding for the federal government under the current continuing resolution runs out on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at midnight, and the Republican majority in the House of Representatives seems poised to prevent another government shut down.

  • Obama casts himself as a dictator with immigration action
    Obama casts himself as a dictator with immigration action

    On Thursday President Barack Obama granted amnesty to 5 million illegal aliens even though he declared it is not amnesty ("Obama makes his case for immigration action," Nov. 21). He has lost credibility with all the lies he has said in the past six years as president. What he did was...

  • Let veterans patrol the border
    Let veterans patrol the border

    Recently I heard President Obama's wife, Michelle, express her concern about veterans ("Give a veteran a chance," Nov. 10).

Comments
Loading