Some Immigrant Farm Workers Fulfill Their American Dreams

Most of us have long heard about the immigrants who come from Mexico and Central America to plant and harvest California’s farms – farms that produce almost half of all the fruits, vegetables, and nuts grown in the United States. Migrant workers have toiled arduously, tending the fields of foods and flowers for years; believing that hard work might realize their American dream. And now, according to a recent New York Times article, dreams are coming true for some who are buying and/or operating farms of their own. However, finding enough labor to work the farms is no small task, either.

“While more Hispanics are running farms, many of them in the region say federal immigration policies have made it increasingly difficult to find workers. Mr. Vasquez, the berry grower, said 12 acres on his farm were not harvested last year because of the lack of labor. ‘That’s an incredible loss,’ he said. Mr. Silva, [a] calla lily grower in Salinas, said he supported guest-worker programs that allowed seasonal workers to come into the country legally.

“… Much of the growth in Hispanic-operated farms around the country has been concentrated in small and midsize farms. Some small-scale farmers are hoping that the increased popularity of organic produce will also increase revenue.” [More Latinos on Farms Move from Fields to Office, Tanzina Vega, New York Times, 16.Aug.2014.]

More than 60 percent of California’s farms are smaller than 50 acres – a sign that more are growing specialty crops. More than 90 percent are family farms or small partnerships. These are encouraging signs for this new crop of farmers, but success ultimately may rely more on immigration reform and the climate in Washington D.C.

The MurthyBlog is full of pieces extoling the value of immigrants to American culture and to our economy. This New York Times article provides another example of their important contributions. Read the full article online.

[See also Agriculture in the Classroom, California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, A Look at California Agriculture, Nov.2012.]

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