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Farm Labor & Rural Migration News Blogs

Alternatives to Hand Labor in US Fresh Tomatoes

November 20, 2020

Tomatoes are a nightshade flowering plant like potatoes and bell peppers. Tomatoes originated in South America and today are one of the world’s most widely consumed vegetables. Tomatoes are technically fruits, classified botanically as berries, but commonly used as a vegetable ingredient or side dish and included with vegetables in most statistical data. China produced a third of the world’s 182 million tons of fresh and processing tomatoes in 2018, followed by India, 19 million tons, the US, 13 million tons, and Turkey, 12 million tons.

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OECD: migration down 50% in 2020

November 20, 2020

The OECD’s annual migration report emphasized that immigration and temporary migration fell sharply in 2020. Both immigration and temporary labor flows are expected to fall by half in 2020 for two reasons. First, the economic recession means that employers are sponsoring fewer foreign workers for immigrant and temporary work visas. Second, governments closed visa-processing facilities and borders to prevent the spread of covid, making it hard to complete the paperwork required for immigration and temporary work abroad.

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DOL Changes AEWR Methodology

November 20, 2020

The H-2 (A) program has since 1952 allowed US farmers who anticipate too few US workers to fill seasonal farm jobs to be certified to recruit and employ guest workers. During the 1950s, the then H-2 program certified fewer than 10,000 US farm jobs a year to be filled with foreign farm workers, while over 450,000 Mexican Braceros a year were admitted.

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Labor in Fruit and Vegetable Agriculture

November 20, 2020

US households, what the government calls consumer units, spent an average $615 a year or $12 a week on fresh fruits and vegetables in 2019. Fresh fruits and vegetables are considered labor intensive because the wages and benefits of the hired farm workers who plant, tend, and harvest them average a third of the farm price.

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Covid and Farm Labor in 2020

November 20, 2020

What were the impacts of covid in 2020 on agriculture and farm labor? Three effects stand out: no widespread reports of labor shortages, more H-2A jobs certified, and more interest in labor-saving mechanization.

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BLS: US Labor Force Projections to 2029

October 13, 2020

The US population is aging and labor force growth is slowing. By 2029, a quarter of US residents are expected to be 65 and older, which is expected to increase employment in health care occupations and reduce labor force participation.

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Covid-19 and Farm Labor after 6 Months

October 13, 2020

The March-April 2020 lockdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the Covid-19 virus exempted essential food system and health care workers, so that farm, food processing, transportation, and supermarket workers continued to work while many other workers were laid off or worked remotely. There were predictions of farm labor shortages due to farm workers who had limited access to social safety net programs going to work while sick and spreading covid in often crowded housing.

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Food Spending and Farm Wages: 2019

October 13, 2020

The US Bureau of Labor Statistic's Consumer Expenditure Survey reported a total of 132 million US "consumer units" or households in 2019. They had an average of 2.5 persons, 1.3 earners and 1.9 motor vehicles; 63 percent were homeowners and the average age of the reference person in the household was 51. Average consumer unit income before taxes was $82,850, and average annual expenditures were $63,000.

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UN: 5 Megatrends

October 13, 2020

The UN in September 2020 released a report on five megatrends that examine human activities that are reshaping the world: climate change, demographic shifts, urbanization, digital technologies, and inequalities.

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Private-Sector US Unions

October 13, 2020

The number of private-sector workers covered by collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) peaked in the 1970s, and has since declined. Some 7.5 percent of private sector workers were union members in 2019.

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