Labor shortages driving foreign workers into US agriculture

An East River farmstead crumbles into the prairie.

As the Trump Organization covers up its ties to sex trafficking and bumbles a virus containment commodities prices are in free fall and workers are fleeing red states for bluer pastures.

Now National Milk Producers Federation member cooperatives are begging the US Senate to import foreign labor.
U.S. dairy producers face labor shortages that are more intense than those felt in agriculture as a whole because they cannot use the H-2A farmworker program, which only provides for seasonal labor rather than the year-round workers dairy needs. With domestic workers in short supply and foreign labor difficult to employ under current policies, dairy farmers are urging lawmakers to find real solutions. “The situation is dire,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, the biggest U.S. dairy-farmer organization. [Farm Forum]
One North Dakota welfare farmer had to hire men from South Africa and Ukraine.
Currently, workers can stay in the U.S. for three years — shifting seasonally among employers — but then go back for three months. They can reapply for their visa and come back, but they can be denied a visa. Visas have become tighter with current immigrant restructuring in the Trump administration. [Pierre Capital Journal]
Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has gleaned nearly $4 million in federal subsidies.
U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said her brothers used the H-2A program to bring in workers during planting and harvest season. Lately, farmers - particularly those using the H-2A program - have been a target of the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. [Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
In 2012 a Custer State Park resort was fined for abusing workers under the H-2B program.
At the peak season at Mt. Rushmore, Xanterra needs 255 employees. Xanterra manages the retail space, cafeteria, parking lot and is also in charge of cars entering the facility at Mt. Rushmore. There are around 120-140 people hired at Mt. Rushmore KOA at Palmer Gulch for the season. A quarter of those workers are foreign help, a quarter is work campers and the other half is local students or other locals. [Challenges with finding employees cause employers to advertise often]
The crony capitalism that keeps South Dakota the 8th worst state for the working class is destroying lands promised to native peoples by treaty and Elkton is struggling to find enough housing for migrant workers often living in squalor. Infrastructure is crumbling and the state's bureaucracy is overbearing and unwieldy. Ag groups want federally subsidized crop insurance and the right to pollute. Corruption and graft are commonplace.
When faced with an influx of students whose first language was not English, the Elkton School District turned to South Dakota State University for help. “Teachers had told me over the years that ‘I don’t know how to help my ELL (English-language learners) students, I don’t know how to reach my ELL students or I’m struggling how to do this,’” said Kelly Neill, Elkton’s principal. [Brookings Register]
In South Dakota principled West River conservatives have had it with the Republican Party establishment.

No comments: