Thursday, December 15, 2011

Without Illegal Immigrants to Pick the Crops, We'll All Starve, Right?!

Apparently, in the wake of all of these 'mean-spirited' state immigration laws (Arizona, Alabama, several other Southern States), crops must be rotting in the fields and farmers must be truly suffering, right?
Apparently not, farm profits are up about 28%.  Obviously those laws calling for the ejection of illegal immigrants aren't bringing about the Armageddon that the media breathlessly speaks of on every chance they get.

 I've seen numbers before indicating around 6% of the cost of produce in the US is from farm labor.  This means that if you doubled their total cost, you'd expect to see a @6% increase in the price of produce.  As of 2007, the average family spent about $1 per day on produce, so their yearly produce budget might be busted by around $20 or so if the labor shortage resulted in a doubling of farm labor wages (farm wages were @$9.06/hour, doubling them would push them to $18.12/hour, which would exceed nonfarm wages, which were $16.75/hour).  These numbers are pulled from the Center for Immigration Studies

Doing a little independent research of my own, I went to the US Department of Agriculture's site. CIS's numbers could plausibly be painted as biased, so here we go to the horse's mouth.

From this chart, we can see that total labor costs, both contract and hired labor, make up around 10% of the total production cost on farms.  Note also that this is only the farm's production cost---it doesn't get the produce to the shelves of your local Safeway or Costco.  So the estimate of 6% by the CIS is probably pretty accurate.  Looking, for instance, at the Tillamook milkshed, the farms seem to receive a little more than a dollar a gallon for their milk (according to their material posted around their Cheese Factory in Tillamook), and the lowest cost sellers of milk (i.e., Costco or Winco), sell it for about $2.50 a gallon in this area, so assuming that the later levels of distribution and sales add at least half of the cost also appears reasonable.

As expected, by everyone but mainstream economists, Alabama's law has resulted in significant decreases in unemployment, as documented by Le Cygne Gris.

It remains to the several states to continue calling the media's bluff on this matter, much as the 'blood running in the streets' predictions of the 1990s as the CCW movement gained steam.
It's in circumstances like this that I really envy the Old Testament Hebrews' convention for dealing with false prophets.

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