January 26, 2023
US Farms in 2021
The US has two million farms that generated over $400 billion in sales in 2021, an average of about $200,000. However, averages in agriculture are misleading because over half of US farms had sales of less than $8,000, while the 70,000 farms that each had sales of $1 million or more accounted for 70 percent of US farm production.
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New Zealand Agriculture and Labor
New Zealand is a net exporter of farm commodities, sending crop and livestock commodities abroad worth $25 billion in 2020 and importing farm commodities worth $5 billion. NZ farm exports include processed food such as milk powder.
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President Biden visited El Paso in January 2023 en route to Mexico City, highlighting continued unauthorized migration over the Mexico-US border. Border Patrol agents encountered over 2,000 unauthorized migrants a day in the El Paso area in December 2022.
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Human history is the story of productivity improvements in agriculture that allow fewer farmers to feed more people, setting the stage for the emergence of cities and ruling elites. In modern times, labor-saving mechanization in agriculture is a response to economic and risk factors. Farmers mechanize when the cost of hand labor exceeds the cost of machine services, and when there is a risk that farm workers may not be available. Rising nonfarm wages draw workers out of agriculture, while biological and engineering innovations make it possible to replace workers with machines.
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Australia Agriculture and Labor
Australia is a net food exporter, sending $30 billion worth of crops and livestock commodities a year abroad and importing farm commodities worth $15 billion. Australia exports 70 percent of its farm commodities by value, led by beef and wheat. The major destinations for Australian farm exports are China, Japan, other Asian countries, and Europe.
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December 19, 2022
H-2A: 372,000 jobs certified in FY22
The H-2A program allows US farmers who anticipate shortages of seasonal workers to be certified by DOL to recruit and employ H-2A workers to fill seasonal jobs, usually for up to 10 months. Employers certified by DOL submit petitions to DHS for approval, which forwards them to DOS consulates abroad; DHS admits workers with visas.
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Remittances: $626 billion in 2022
Remittances, the monies sent to countries of origin by migrants abroad, reached a record $626 billion to low- and middle-income countries in 2022. Remittances are three times Official Development Assistance (ODA) and exceed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), making them the largest financial flow from richer to poorer countries. Remittances have reached new records every year despite a wide range of challenges, from closed borders during covid to a weakening Euro that reduces the value of remittances sent from Europe in dollar terms.
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CEA and Labor
Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) involves growing plants under protective structures that shield them from weather and pests. CEA raises yields, reduces water requirements, and facilitates organic production. Many CEA operations are located in urban areas near consumers. Data on CEA workforces are sparse, but US CEA farms may employ a smaller share of the unauthorized Mexican-born workers who dominate in open field agriculture.
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US Fruit and Vegetable Trade
The US had an agricultural trade surplus in most years between 1960 and 2020 because exported farm commodities were worth more than the commodities that were imported. The US farm trade surplus has turned into a deficit in recent years as the US imports more fruits and vegetables, which are more valuable than the corn and soybeans that dominate among US farm exports.
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World wine in 2020
World wine consumption was 236 million hectoliters in 2021, down from the 260 million hectoliters consumed in 2019. One hectoliter is 26.4 gallons, making global wine consumption about 6.2 billion gallons or 1.1 gallons per year for each of the 5.5 billion people 18 and older.
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