Monday, November 16, 2009

Good article on immigration and farm jobs.

Just read Philip Martin's thoughtful article on immigration and farm jobs in the UC-Davis ARE Update.

the U.S. farm labor market resembles a revolving door,absorbing newcomers from abroad and retaining them for less than a decade.
The National Agricultural Worker Survey (NAWS) found that a sixth of farm workers are newcomers, or living in the United States less than a year, equivalent to 100% turnover every six years.

I am not sure what is the best immigration policy. I do believe that immigrants in the Valley (legal or not) will benefit most when economic development efforts in the Valley focus on creating non-farm jobs (their future), and improving the quality of farm jobs (so that they may retain workers longer).

Those who have done well under the status quo (primarily landowners) will continue to push an economic development agenda emphasising reliable flows of of subsidized water and reliable flows of cheap labor through the "revolving door." Since the west side of the Valley is the poorest place in the U.S., it would seem that this agenda has been an economic development failure and a new approach is needed.

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