While many parts of the country have felt some extreme colds, America has also been a lot warmer than most years, which could lead to an early harvest. This means that farmers are going to need to hire help a bit sooner than expected—that is, if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) left anyone to hire.
President Trump’s crackdown on immigration, he claims, is because Hispanic immigrants are “stealing jobs.” But when it comes to agriculture, most Americans don’t want to work in the fields.
Farmers from Talent, Oregon say that they have tried hiring more domestic labor for over a decade, but it never seems to work out. So, they’ve hired immigrants. “When you need pear pickers you take anyone that you can get,” Ron Meyer, a third-generation owner of Meyer Orchards, said.
Between Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration and Americans’ apathy to work on farms, Meyer Orchards are having trouble finding workers for the first time in 108 years. Meyer says, “The borders are better protected now, so the illegal workers don’t come in like they did at one time.”
Their solution? Working with foreign governments to staff its harvest team.
This will cost about $1000 to bring each migrant farmworker to Talent, and Meyer needs to bring in 7 workers on visas to fill out his 12 man team.
“We actually bring them, and we have to pay their way up and back, and so it’s a very expensive process, but there are no alternatives,” Meyer says.
Farmers in Talent are also having to contend with the booming marijuana industry. Meyers says, “They have been able to pay more than we have because their income is much better than the pear business.”
And this is where Trump’s war on immigration comes full circle. Talent farmers are actually bringing workers in from Mexico and South America anyway. In fact, this is becoming standard practice. One migrant network estimates that there are as many as 2.7 million migrant workers in the United States.
Thanks to Trump, these farmers are having to pay more money for hired help, and are still getting workers from the same countries. All he managed to do is hurt their bottom line.