Another reason for immigration reform: costs of commodities like wheat are going to be significantly higher if there aren’t enough workers come harvest time. You’d think the rural GOP from mid-America places like Iowa would be cognizant of this problem, instead of letting racists like Steve “Cantaloupe” King dictate immigration policy.
Alan Bjerga of Bloomberg reports:
Great Plains wheat-cutting teams, once filled by U.S. farm kids, now rely on foreigners for about one-third of the workers who cut grain sold to Cargill Inc. and others, according to trade group U.S. Custom Harvesters Inc. The highly skilled itinerant workers, a little-noted component of the immigration overhaul struggling through Congress this year, have become essential to the nation’s $17.9 billion wheat crop. “Wheat has a relatively short window to be harvested, so you need to have enough people available at the right time,” said Terry Kastens, a retired economics professor at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, who surveys combine operators.
Proposals in both houses of Congress to impose a cap on the number of work visas available to agricultural laborers may leave harvesters out of luck if the quota is already filled before they arrive for the season that begins in May. Rural Economies Costs would go up without the harvesters, harming rural economies, Kastens said.
One cutting crew will serve dozens of farms, helping to keep smaller operations in business by saving capital costs for farmers who then don’t need to buy their own combines, he said.
Afrikaners — South Africans of mostly European ancestry — have a special advantage because the U.S. summer months coincide with their winter, meaning they can harvest at home and then hit the road. And they speak English. They bunk with crewmates in a mobile trailer and earn a little more than $20 an hour, hauling combines that can cost $350,000 in semi-tractor trailers across the Plains with stops in dozens of fields.
(click here to continue reading Afrikaners Reaping Colorado Wheat Threatened by Visa Cap – Bloomberg.)