The U.S. Produce Industry and Labor: Facing the Future in a Global Economy

Economic Research Report No. (ERR-106) 57 pp, November 2010

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by Linda Calvin and Philip Martin

Fruit and vegetable production is a labor-intensive process, and over half of the hired workers employed by growers are believed to be unauthorized immigrants. Reforms to immigration laws, if they reduce the labor supply, may increase the cost of farm labor. The authors of this report assess how particular fruit and vegetable commodities might adjust if labor rates increased. Analysis of case studies suggests a range of possible adjustment scenarios, including increased mechanization for some crops, reduced U.S. output for a few crops, and increased use of labor aids to improve labor productivity for others.

Keywords: Produce, agricultural labor, mechanization, immigration reform, apples, oranges, raisins, strawberries, asparagus, lettuce

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