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Rural Migration Blog

The US food system

March 17, 2020

The US food system provides food and fiber to 330 million Americans and millions more abroad. The food system encompasses the farm input sector such as farm equipment makers and seed companies, farming, and the processing, transportation, and service involved in getting farm commodities to consumers.

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Imports are over half of US fresh fruit and a third of US fresh vegetables

March 17, 2020

Over half of the fresh fruit available to US consumers, 57 percent in 2018, was imported, as were 32 percent of the fresh vegetables. Three-fourths of the 115 pounds of fresh fruit available per person involve seven items: 28 pounds of bananas, 17 pounds of fresh apples, and eight pounds each of fresh avocados, grapes, oranges, pineapples, and strawberries.

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Farm hourly earnings are rising faster than nonfarm earnings

March 17, 2020

The average hourly earnings of hired US farm workers are rising faster than the average earnings of US nonfarm production workers. The earnings of all US hired farm workers averaged $15 an hour in 2019, according to USDA’s Agricultural Labor Survey, while nonfarm US workers in the BLS Current Employment Statistics program earned an average of $24 an hour.

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A tale of two states: farm labor in CA and FL

March 17, 2020

California is the largest farm state, with farm sales of $50 billion in 2017, and the state with the highest farm labor expenses. The state’s farmers had $11 billion in COA total farm labor expenses in 2017, or 28 percent of the $39 billion US total labor expenses. Florida is the fourth largest farm labor state, with farm sales of $7.5 billion and farm labor expenses of $1.8 billion in 2017 (WA had labor expenses of $2.4 billion and TX $2 billion).

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Overtime and California Farm Workers

March 17, 2020

AB 1066, the Phase-In Overtime for Agricultural Workers Act enacted in 2016, requires large farm employers to pay overtime wages to workers after eight hours a day or 40 hours a week by 2022. Since 1976, farm employers have been required to pay overtime after 10 hours a day or 60 hours a week.

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Unions: 10 percent of US workers are union members

February 24, 2020

Some 10.3 percent of US employees, 14.6 million of 142 million, were members of unions in 2019, down from almost 18 million union members in 1983. Some 16.4 million workers were represented by unions in 2019, meaning that almost two million workers covered by collective bargaining agreements did not join the union that negotiated the agreement under which they work.

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World’s Population Increases, Urbanizes, Ages, and Migrates

February 24, 2020

The world’s population of 7.8 million is rising in some countries and falling in others, more people are moving to cities, the share of the population 65 and older is increasing, and there are more international migrants.

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California’s Crop Land

February 24, 2020

Only eight percent of California’s almost 100 million acres of land are used to produce most of the state’s crop output. A quarter of California’s acres are used for farming, but half of these 24 million farm acres are pasture and rangeland, and another 2.2 million acres are woodland, farmsteads, ponds, and roads.

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California wine: the 2020 outlook

February 24, 2020

Too much wine is chasing too few US consumers, resulting in some California wine grapes left on the vine in 2019. A record California wine grape harvest of 4.5 million tons in 2018 was followed by a 4.1 million ton harvest in 2019, reducing prices paid to growers.

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Mexico: Protected Agriculture and Farm Labor

February 24, 2020

Mexico is a world leader in protected agriculture, structures that fully or partially protect plants from excessive rain and sun during their growth. There are three major types of protective structures for crops: high-tech greenhouses, low-tech structures that use metal hoops covered with plastic to enclose and protect plants, and open-sided shade houses that protect plants from rain and sun. Medium-tech protective structures are a mix of hoop and shade structures.

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