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Rural Migration Blog

March 19, 2021

Labor Standards Enforcement in California Agriculture

California has a third of US farm workers and state labor standards laws that provide more protection for farm workers than federal laws. An analysis of 787 state labor law compliance investigations of California farms between 2016 and 2019 found that three-fourths of the farms owed back wages to their employees, and that most did not pay the back wages that were assessed by 2019.

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Farm Labor and the Prosperity Paradox

Most of the world’s workers were employed in agriculture until the 20th century, when economic development in industrial countries pushed and pulled farmers and farm workers into nonfarm jobs, where wages are generally higher and most jobs offer benefits that range from health insurance to pensions. Youth growing up on farms are often attracted to the bright lights of cities for opportunity, explaining why there is far more rural-urban than international migration.

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February 24, 2021

The H-2A Program and AEWRs

US farm employers may be certified by the US Department of Labor (DOL) to recruit and employ foreign workers to fill seasonal US jobs if they satisfy two conditions. First, they must try and fail to find local workers, and second, they must ensure that the presence of the migrant guest workers will not adversely affect similar local workers.

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Alternatives to Hand Labor in Apples

Apples originated in Central Asia. China is the world’s major apple producer, accounting for 39 million of the 86 million tons of apples produced in 2018, when the US produced five million tons of apples, Poland four million, Turkey 3.5 million, and Iran 2.5 million. Apples play an important role in mythology and religion as a forbidden fruit, as with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

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H-2 Guest Workers and Florida Sugar

Florida agriculture is unlike agriculture elsewhere because most of the state’s fruits and vegetables are harvested during the winter months, when crop production in other states is low but fruit and vegetable imports from countries with warmer weather are high. As a result, Florida agriculture is more protectionist than US agriculture, which tends to embrace free trade because US agriculture is a net exporter of farm commodities.

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