Immigration debate: Farm labor shortage hurts local economy

Farm labor shortage hurts local economy

GERVAIS, Ore. -- Brian Bauman, of Bauman Farms, looked out on an empty field that last year was full of blackberries.

“This field was full of caneberries, but we couldn’t get them picked,” said Bauman.

He said the fruit fell onto the ground, a victim of the agricultural labor shortage that some say is being made worse by sweeps by federal agents picking up undocumented residents.

“There’s thousands of dollars sitting here, and there’s thousands of dollars that went to waste last year.”

Bauman said growers want to have access to a legal workforce to get their crops in every season. 

“As farmers we obviously want a legal workforce in this country, and the current workforce is insufficient,” Bauman said.

Much of the migrant workforce in Oregon is on edge right now, worried that federal agents could turn up to arrest and possibly deport them.

Critics of allowing undocumented residents to stay and work say they take jobs from Americans who were born here.

“Not only do they take jobs from our vets, our unskilled labor, our teens would like to have, these people are unable to get a job and go on public assistance,” said Cynthia Kendoll of Oregonians for Immigration Reform.

“We’re trying to find anybody, it’s not just migrant workers,” said Bauman. “Anybody is more than welcome to come out here. It’s going to be a lot of work.”

© 2017 KGW-TV


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