Shockuh: Farmers Use Machines To Substitute For Illegals

by John Hawkins | July 17, 2007 6:42 am

For years, the amnesty and open borders crowd has been telling Americans that illegal aliens are essential to the economy and that we just can’t get by without them. On the other hand, people like me have been telling you that’s complete piffle and that the market will adjust and the economy would get by just fine without illegals.

Who’s right? Well, here’s a story, per The Oregonian[1], which I think suggests that those of who say we’d get by just fine without illegals are likely much closer to the target,

“Surrounded by shiny new tractors, Carl Capps spends most days talking about horsepower, hydraulics and transmissions. He paid little attention to anti- and pro-immigrant-legalization activists who marched at the state Capitol.

Then the immigration debate came to him last fall, after he sold a quarter-million-dollar machine that harvests wine grapes — the first in the Willamette Valley.

The New Holland Braud grape harvester can do the work of 40 handpickers in a fraction of the time.

…The harvester is a powerful and controversial symbol as Oregon and the nation struggle with the economic realities of immigration. As public pressure drives a border crackdown and increased enforcement, farmers nationwide face labor shortages as high as 30 percent to 50 percent during harvest. Further complicating matters, large numbers of former migrant laborers have switched to construction jobs for the higher pay and year-round stability.

… Then last fall, he read in a local farming newspaper about the New Holland Braud harvester at Evergreen Vineyards in McMinnville. The aviation giant, which has vineyards adjacent to its aviation museum — and a Spruce Goose wine label that honors its star attraction — bought the machine for the 2006 harvest.

It picked 3.5 tons of pinot noir grapes in 20 minutes with three workers, the Capital Press article said. Usually that would have taken 34 workers an hour.

Finally, Ludwick had an Oregon example to make his case. He began to tout the New Holland harvester in speeches, as well as to state legislators, members of Congress and radio talk-show hosts.

“This is what modern societies do,” he said. “They mechanize and wean themselves off cheap stoop labor.”

Ludwick said mechanized tomato-harvesting took off only after the end of the 1960s Bracero guest-worker program ended a steady supply of Mexican workers.

How is it that we get so many conservatives who believe that the market can adjust to anything — except a small tightening in the amount of unskilled laborers we have in this country? Actually the market can adjust and tomorrow, if every single illegal disappeared, 12-24 months later, I doubt if anyone would even notice the difference.

  1. The Oregonian:

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