Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Be our guest


    Few of us, if asked to prioritize the problems facing agricultural states, would come up with the answer that they have too few “illegal aliens.”
    Instead, Americans seem to be warned constantly about too many outsiders who, if given the opportunity to become citizens and vote, will go on welfare, refuse to pay taxes and choose not to become like us. Now, however, there is growing evidence of changes that may contradict that perception and that may be difficult for some people to believe.
    The Journal of Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy reports that Mexican farms are now competing with U.S. farms for a dwindling supply of agricultural laborers. It has become harder to staff the so-called “guest worker” agribusiness-friendly programs that bring labor into the U.S. to cultivate and harvest our crops.
    Since the days of the federal immigration Bracero (meaning laborer) Program, in place from 1942-1964, American harvests too often were really harvests of shame. Employment contracts, written in English and controlled by independent farmer associations and the Farm Bureaus, left braceros to sign those contracts without understanding the terms of their employment or the rights they were giving away.

    U.S. guest worker programs have traditionally emphasized the “worker” part of the equation that meets the interests of farmers and consumers while largely ignoring issues of justice, fairness and worker rights.
    Recently, Sean Cockerman of McClatchy Newspapers found Idaho farmers who were quite open regarding their need for Mexican workers, whom one characterized as “border jumpers.” Foreign workers are critical to their business, they said, because Americans are lazy and don’t want to put in the time or do the type of work required. American consumers benefit from the labor of foreign workers, though few realize it. Our food is cheap and plentiful and we like it that way. We are not driven to question why nor are we likely to inquire about who benefits and who pays in our agricultural system.
    A real person puts in the time and does brutally hard farm work, and none of us is excited about paying higher food prices, but farmers are warning us that unless they have an abundant supply of farm laborers who will work for what the grower can pay, our agricultural system is in jeopardy.
    Instead of comments slurring lazy Americans or Mexican farm workers, we should recognize that America’s agriculture could not have succeeded without the help of non-American laborers and appreciate what they have done for us.
    Unless we begin to see them truly as guest workers, we may look up and find that no one will be there to do what most of us are unwilling to do.




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads



 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2020 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.