Posted 5 years ago on Oct. 20, 2011, 7:31 p.m. EST by whatshappening
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
This past week, I was watching a newscast where Alabama farmers were complaining they could not find enough field workers to harvest their crops because of the state's recent passage of a strict immigration law. Illegal immigrants were leaving the state in droves because of the law. The same is happening in Georgia. I found that statement hard to understand given the fact unemployment rates in Alabama and Georgia are 9.9 percent and 10.2 percent, respectively. Ohio's is 9.1 percent.
Why is it not possible to find people to work the fields when unemployment rates are so high? The spokesman for the farmers said, "American workers just won't work all day in 90 degree heat, like the Mexicans." That's a sad commentary on the state of our working population. Hard work has become something we want someone else to do, regardless of the consequences.
Now, I understand agricultural work is tedious, seasonal and physically demanding. However, I have to think a good percentage of our unemployed can do that work well. Maybe we just have to do something to make that work more attractive. I wonder what pay rates and benefits are needed to attract workers to the fields. They have to be significantly higher than the benefits people receive on unemployment and welfare because it is a lot easier to collect for not working than it is to work hard.
In order to make good pay for agricultural work a reality, we consumers must be willing to pay more for domestic agricultural products. I don't know how much more that would be, but I'd be interested if someone from our local agricultural population would give an estimate. The producers of agricultural products receive a small percentage of what the consumer pays for that product, so my guess is that consumer prices would not substantially increase. The various middlemen between the producer and the consumer of agricultural products earn much more on the sale of that product, for much less work, than the farmer. How much of that $4 per gallon milk goes to the dairyman? What about that $4 box of cornflakes or that $10 per pound piece of beef? If the farmer's price for these and other grown products substantially increased to give agricultural workers a decent pay package, the final cost of the product would not be prohibitive. However, we consumers have to be willing to shed our cheaper is better mentality because that is one of the roots of our economic malaise.
Agriculture is just one of our hard spots. The collapse of our manufacturing industries also is a result of our cheaper-is-better mentality. I'm wondering how many of our unemployed are avid Walmart shoppers, where it is difficult to find anything made in America, with the exception of food. All those Chinese goods once were made in America, but we want it cheaper, so now there is little consumer manufacturing work on our shores. You get what you pay for.