NYT has an interesting article that might provide readers with the details of not only immigration but labor, food supply, agriculture in a mixed reaction to such issues. I also wonder if planting went smoothly, for instance, as the details of lives get lost in the simplicities of bumper sticker, all or none politics. This is of course only one small sector of of an economy affected by immigration but sometimes a story offers much insight if I ask the right questions as it develops and figure out what this city boy doesn’t know. How could this community come to terms with its problems and strengths?
For decades, the farmers have relied on migrant labor from spring to fall. Depending on how quickly they work, field workers can earn up to $18 an hour, compared with Ohio’s $8.15 minimum hourly wage. Many return year after year to do the strenuous seasonal work, sometimes in temperatures that soar to 100 degrees. (Local residents largely steer clear.)
Seven in 10 field workers nationwide are undocumented, according to estimates by the American Farm Bureau Federation. In Willard, it is probably no different.
“Without the Hispanic labor force, we wouldn’t be able to grow crops,” said Ben Wiers, a great-grandson of the pioneer Henry Wiers, who bought five acres here in 1896, noting that he considers many workers at Wiers Farms, which cultivates more than 1,000 acres of produce under the Dutch Maid label, to be friends.
But beefed-up border enforcement has slowed the flow of workers who enter the country illegally. Last year, a shortage forced Mr. Wiers and the other growers to leave millions of dollars’ worth of produce in the fields.