Friday, February 20, 2009

NPR on temporary agricultural workers

NPR's "Morning Edition" this morning had a very interesting segment on temporary agricultural workers in Arizona, including those on H-2A status (blogged here on 12/12/09: The reporters discussed the fact that many of the farm workers this year are permanent residents originally from Mexico, and now living in Mexico again because it is cheaper than living in the US.
Due to the economic situation in the country, the farmers in this area have planted up to 40 percent less," says Janine Duron, executive director of the Independent Agricultural Workers' Center, a nonprofit that connects workers with growers. "So there's been less of a demand for farm workers. And there was just about enough demand to be met with the local domestic farm workers.
These workers might formerly have worked in higher-paying industries, such as construction or hospitality.
More H-2A visa workers will likely be needed when the recession ends. But for now, older so-called domestic farm workers and former construction workers will take the jobs — unless things get so bad that U.S. citizens are willing to move across the country for five months' work in these lettuce fields at $350 a week.

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