Obama action may raise prices of fresh produce

Monday, December 29, 2014

If the price of your produce goes up over the coming year, you may be able to chalk it up as another example of unintended consequences.

President Obama's executive action to prevent some 5 million people from being deported is expected to make an agricultural labor shortage even worse, according to trade organizations.

The fact is, some 85 percent of the farm workers in the United States are here illegally, and stay in low-paying jobs only because they are afraid of being deported.

Take away that fear, and thousands of them may choose to leave seasonal farm jobs for steadier work in construction or service industries such as hotels and restaurants.

The Western Growers association estimates that will exacerbate the worker shortage -- already 15 to 20 percent -- and make it more important that Congress enact real immigration reform such as a sound guest worker program.

Most of the farm workers in question toil in California, 330,000 of the 2.1 million nationwide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas is second, with less than half California's total.

While vegetables are a relatively small crop in Nebraska -- most of our agriculture is massive and automated -- we haven't escaped the issue. The Cornhusker state is No. 18th in per-capita illegal immigrants, with an estimated 1.365 people per 100 residents.

Once Obama's executive action starts going into effect next year, it will protect the parents of legal U.S. residents from deportation and expand a 2012 program shielding from deportation people brought into the U.S. illegally as children.

Americans are in a moral dilemma -- we claim to live under the rule of law, yet we enjoy low prices created by use of illegal workers. (We also enjoy low prices made possible by Asian factories with working conditions that wouldn't be tolerated in America, but that's another issue.)

It's up to Congress to make the tough decisions it will take to settle the immigration issue once and for all. So far our representatives have been unwilling to accept the responsibility we, the voters, have entrusted to them.

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  • Yes, but what a great humanitarian gesture and about time! Woefully insufficient, too, given how hard immigrants work vis-a-vis the general population.

    -- Posted by fruitexplorer on Tue, Dec 30, 2014, at 6:58 AM
  • yes, the people who work the hardest need to be paid better than they are. and yes it seems that our native citizens have lost their morals to work for their money. but Obama's actions are designed to cause division. it totally ignores the laws that are already in place. POTUS is acting like a dictator. He is not letting the will of us the people be heard. Yes there is a time when the president needs to have authority to act without the congress...national emergencies, etc. This is a legal issue not an emergency. I believe that each individual state needs to have the authority on immigration issues (as well as many other issues) One size does not fit all but the federal government seems to think that they can make everyone wear size 9 shoes.

    -- Posted by quick13 on Wed, Dec 31, 2014, at 9:24 AM
  • Obama'svpolicies on engery have caused those prices to increase. Increased engery prices causes all prices on goods to rise.

    -- Posted by dennis on Thu, Jan 1, 2015, at 3:10 PM
  • An entire portion of our society no longer has to live in fear but I have to pay .09 cents a pound more for apples?

    Obama must be a real jerk.

    -- Posted by Diatheke on Sat, Jan 3, 2015, at 8:32 PM
  • I would not say Obama is a jerk. I am glad you can pay the additional ten percent for your food bill. A family of four spends approx. $11600 per year for food. That is $1,160 dollars more ....using your figures, to pay for food. The health insurance bill also increased to help pay for those who can not work or chose not to work. Under the current President the average actual household spendable income for middle class families has decreased. The average family of four earns approx $52130 after taxes. Health insurance cost is nearly $15k per year. Housing is about $10,400. That leaves about $15k for fuel, water, sewer, trash, life/home/auto insurance, clothes, retirement and all other costs. Yes the additional $1,160 more for food does make a big difference. Again, glad you can afford it D.

    -- Posted by dennis on Sun, Jan 4, 2015, at 4:17 PM
  • Is their any demand man at all for fresh wholesome produce around here, or is it still in the hobby stage?

    -- Posted by Hugh Jassle on Mon, Jan 5, 2015, at 11:50 AM
  • Hobby stage! Just saying!

    -- Posted by SWNEvacuee on Mon, Jan 5, 2015, at 6:01 PM
  • You cannot stay... its illegal! Get out.

    But do come back illegally to pick the Oranges.

    Mixed message much.

    -- Posted by Diatheke on Thu, Jan 8, 2015, at 8:26 PM
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