Colorado Young Farmer

It’s often a point that is neglected when people start complaining about immigration.  There’s much shouting about ‘taking our jobs’ for example, yet this fails to address that often immigrants perform a vital role in an economy.

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Often it’s farmers who rely on them the most, after the Brexit vote in the UK there is a worry that many fruit farmers in East Anglia will have to relocate to Europe.  They are almost entirely dependent on foreign labour when its harvest time.  The idea that these jobs will be taken by UK citizens is a myth, it simply won’t happen – the low paid, hard work jobs simply aren’t attractive to people who live locally.

It’s very much the same situation in Colorado,  most of the fruits and vegetables can’t be mechanically harvested as they are too tender, it must be done by hand.  Many Colorado farmers are convinced that Americans won’t take the jobs, – ‘they have ever wanted to take these jobs and it won’t change now’  said one local farmer.

It’s a mistake to think immigration is very straightforward, deport immigrants and jobs become available sounds simple but what happens when people don’t want those jobs?   In farming it’s serious, the crops don’t get picked and food that should be feeding the nation ends up rotting in fields.   Most Colorado farmers have had trouble finding available workers for harvesting for years this problem is going to get much worse.

There are alternatives, employment in oil and gas pays more, and harvesting in the hot Colorado sun can be grueling.   This is why migrant workers are essential, they come to help bring in the harvest and then leave.  They do try and document all the workers but inevitably some of these will be illegal immigrants attracted by  the ‘cash in hand’ type employment options.

John Collins

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March 2017
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