Farmers addicted to cheap illegal immigrant labor are facing disruptions, but not devastation, as they adjust to world with fewer unauthorized workers, according to a new report Thursday.
The Migration Policy Institute found that farms are plugging gaps by using machines, enticing workers to stay by offering health care — and are even tapping legal guest workers to fill empty jobs.
Its analysis said warnings from immigrant-rights advocates of food shortages have not generally come to pass. The agriculture industry, it says, has seen an upheaval as farmers shift strategies to try to deal with the evolving labor force.
Mechanization — either as a replacement or as assistance to current workers — is growing, as is better treatment of migrants in the hopes that they’ll stick around. Indeed, the days of field workers ranging from farm to farm with each seasonal crop are over, and farms are making a push to keep their workforce stable and in place through better conditions and bonuses.