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Rural Migration Blog

January 2022

Alternatives to Hand Labor in Lettuce

Head (iceberg) and leaf (romaine, butterhead, and baby) lettuces are the most valuable US fresh vegetable. Lettuce is produced year-round, with 70 percent from CA and 30 percent from AZ. Americans are consuming less head and more other lettuces, so that each type was about half of the 25 pounds per person available in 2019.

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Lettuce Production and Trade

Lettuces, including head (iceberg) and leaf (romaine, butterhead, baby, and other leaf types), are the most valuable US vegetable. Most US lettuce is produced in California (70 percent of US production) and Arizona (30 percent). In 2019, six percent of iceberg lettuce and 13 percent of romaine, butterhead, and other leaf lettuces were imported, but imports are rising fast. Americans have been shifting from head to other lettuces, so that each type was about half of the 25 pounds per person available in 2019.

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IOM: Migration down, remittances up

The IOM’s 11th World Migration Report estimated that there were 281 international migrants in 2020, meaning that 3.6 percent of the world’s 7.8 billion residents were outside their country of birth for a year or more. The stock of international migrants increased by five million a year since 1990, when there were 128 million migrants. The world’s population increases by about 80 million a year.

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5% of US farms account for 60% of farm sales

A farm is defined by USDA as a place that normally sells at least $1,000 worth of farm commodities a year. Farms include 4-H projects and hobby gardens that sell directly to consumers as well as the Resnick-owned Wonderful companies that Forbes estimated have almost $5 billion a year in revenue from 200,000 acres of citrus and nuts in the San Joaquin Valley as well as Fiji water and Teleflora.

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Meat: Covid, Concentration, and Automation

US agriculture is a 50-50 sector. Over half of the $400 billion of annual sales of farm commodities represent the value of crops, including corn and soybeans as well as fruits and vegetables. The other half represent sales of animal products, including meat, dairy products, and eggs. This roughly 50-50 split between crops ($207 billion in 2021) and livestock ($172 billion in 2021) is projected to continue during the 2020s.

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