Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Apple harvest brings new challanges

Well, it's that time of year, time for the days to shorten, the air to chill, and the apples to come off the trees. Growing up in an area of fruit production, I guess I've always known how apples were picked, and generally assumed that most farmer knew as well; boy was I wrong! Sitting here at the AgChat Foundation Conference, I'm amazed that I've needed to explain several times now to people just how dependent of migrant labor we really are. Even other farmers didn't realize that apples are harvested by hand, one by one.

In order to harvest apples correctly, we depend on migrant labor, and they are far more than just employees to us; they are a valued part of our team. We can do everything right, all year, and if we don't have skilled, efficient, workers to harvest our crop, it's all for naught. I guess this is why it's so disheartening to hear the discourse regarding migrant labor and immigration. Now, I'm the great-grandson of dutch immigrants; we waited in line like everybody else. However, we need to get real with this problem. Migrant labor is a vital part of, quite honestly, our national security, and we need to realize that.

Now, I'm not advocating a free pass; but right now, we have bigger problems in this country than this, and quite honestly, we could use the money (tax revenue). Secure the border, bring these people out of the shadows, and make them start paying taxes; they are already benefitting from our social system, we might as well get some money out of it.

Our country needs a secure food supply. Consumer demand is asking for more and more fresh fruits and vegetables, and we need to have them raised by our standards, on our land. Support common sense immigration reform, and remember, your next meal may depend on it!