CNN did a whole article on California avocado farmer Rick Shade, who is in quite a pickle because he doesn’t have enough illegal immigrants to pick his fruit:

You see, Shade could raise his wages to match the competitors in the area, but he’s not doing that:

Even though he pays well above minimum wage, he’s also lost workers to farms that can afford to pay more. The experienced harvesters at Shade’s farm can make up to $400 a day, he says. The rookies start off at minimum wage and then move up to $200 to $300 a day after a few weeks.

And Shade could use the legal H2A visa process, but that would mean he would have to house the laborers and he doesn’t want to do that, too:

“The H-2A is a difficult process, especially living in this beautiful spot in Southern California,” Shade said, citing the state’s high land values and tough regulations regarding housing. “When you bring in an H-2A employee or employees, you have to provide housing that is up to government specifications. If I were to hit the Lotto … I might be able to purchase an old run down motel and convert it. But that’s the order of magnitude we’re talking about for labor and it’s just not feasible.”

CNN did say many growers are automating to cut down on labor costs:

To lessen their dependence on workers, farmers across the country are scrambling to mechanize. Agricultural technology — basically using robots to replace workers — is now a multibillion dollar industry.

But not Shade. In his bio on the website for the California Avocado Growers Commision, he says automation makes the avocados less nutritious somehow:

And no matter how much things change, Rick’s best resource is still his granddad’s old ag-school textbook. Because Rick knows that the less he automates, the more care goes into his fruit. The more the nutrients are preserved. And the more he can look at the dirt beneath his fingernails and take pride in an honest day’s work. Rick is just one of the proud stock of California Avocado growers.

In summary…

Won’t raise wages? Check!

Won’t use legal immigrants? Check!

Won’t automate? Check!

So the only solution is illegal immigrants working for below market wages with no health care or housing? Spare us, please.

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