Farmers are producing too much food, holding down prices and holding back economies in states with big agricultural industries.
South Dakota and Iowa are the only two states in the country where gross domestic product fell in the second quarter. Ultra-low crop and livestock prices stemming from a global oversupply have squeezed farm incomes, pulling down Iowa’s GDP 0.7% and South Dakota’s 0.3% from the prior quarter.
California’s highest court decided unanimously Monday that farmers may have a labor contract imposed on them if negotiations with a union fail to produce an agreement. The state Supreme Court, overturning a lower court ruling, upheld a 2002 law that permits the state to order farmers and unions to reach binding contracts. The Legislature passed the law after determining that farmers were refusing to negotiate with unionized workers. The law allows either side to ask for a neutral mediator and for that mediator to impose a contract covering wages and working conditions.
Stated bluntly, there aren’t enough new immigrants for the state’s nearly half-million farm labor jobs — especially as Mexico creates competing manufacturing jobs in its own cities, Taylor said. He has calculated that the pool of potential immigrants from rural Mexico shrinks every year by about 150,000 people. Not surprisingly, wages for crop production have climbed 13% from 2010 to 2015 — a higher rate than the state average, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of Labor Department data.
This year’s rains brought a welcome respite to California’s farmers, who had grappled with surface water supply shortages for the previous four years. But now farmers are increasingly worried about the availability of another crucial element to their farms’ productivity―farm labor. The connection between farm labor and immigration patterns was among the topics covered in a recent conference at UC Davis.