Could the Price of Labor-Intensive Crops Increase?

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New AAEA Member research investigates the factors in AJAE article

[There are] more incentives for growers to mechanize, or simply to stop growing the most labor-intensive crops like strawberries, lettuce, grapes, and the like.

According to the May 2018 issue of the USDAs National Agricultural Statistice Service Farm Labor release, the largest percentage increase in average wage rates for all hired workers occurred in the California, Mountain II, and Moutain III (Arizona and New Mexico) regions. With the current disagreement over the nature of immigration reform prevening passage of the farm bill last month, it is a sure bet that Congress will focus their discussion on immigration reform.

In the new American Journal of Agricultural Economics (AJAE) article “Immigration Reform and Farm Labor Markets,” Timothy Richards of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University wants to find out how proposed immigration reforms will affect farmers, given the current shortage of farm workers.

Richards says, “If farm labor wages increase it could lead to more expensive produce, higher imports from Mexico, more incentives for undocumented workers to find their way back in, more incentives for growers to mechanize, or simply to stop growing the most labor-intensive crops like strawberries, lettuce, grapes, and the like.”

If you are interested in setting up an interview with Timothy Richards, please contact Allison Scheetz in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit http://www.aaea.org.

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Allison Scheetz
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