Now, by some estimates, the U.S. now has two million few immigrants than it would have if the pace had stayed the same. That’s leading to a desperate scramble for workers in many sectors, including farming. Experts say it’s also contributing to supply shortages and price increases.
The Associated Press talked with one farmer in Texas who operates just ten miles from the Rio Grande. Mike Kelly says he’s so short of immigrants, he’s replaced hundreds of acres of labor intensive leafy greens with crops that can be harvested by machinery. He’s also increased pay for his workers, who he says are almost exclusively immigrants.
Dairy farms are big employers of immigrant labor as well, and the need for workers has the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) renewing its call for dairy farms to be given access to the H-2A Ag Guest Work Visa Program. The organization sent a letter to the president asking the White House to issue an executive order to exempt dairy worker positions from H-2A’s seasonality restriction. NMPF says the action would help dairy farmers recruit workers, control labor costs and ease food inflation. It says unlike the rest of ag, the dairy industry is unable to use that H-2A program because of the year-round nature of dairy production.