Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Say Good-Bye to Tomatoes!

U.S. Farmers say Immigration Laws are BROKEN!! One of Nation´s largest Tomato Farmers to STOP harvesting tomatoes this year and will instead harvest grain since it can be harvested by machines. Farmer says harvesting tomatoes are high paying jobs but jobs Americans won´t do due to the heat and difficulty of harvesting.

Major Pa. tomato producer quits, blames Congress
By Nancy Petersen Inquirer Staff Writer Tue, Mar. 25, 2008
CLARKS SUMMIT, Pa. - Keith Eckel, the largest producer of fresh market tomatoes in Pennsylvania, is getting out of the business. Fearing that the labor needed to harvest his tomatoes won't be there when he needs it, Eckel announced yesterday that after decades of growing tomatoes, he was calling it quits. He placed the blame squarely at the feet of Congress and its failure to enact what he called a meaningful immigration reform measure. "The system is broken," Eckel said before a crowd of neighbors, employees and news media gathered in the packing house at his farm near Scranton. "It's a sad day," he said. "We're closing a part of our business that we really love."
Eckel's problems are echoed coast to coast by farmers who are reliant on foreign farm workers allowed into the country each year to plant, pick and package crops. Eckel said the impact of the government's increased vigilance on illegal immigration and the lack of action on an immigration reform bill has sown doubt among farmers that they will be able to count on a predictable and sufficient work force.
The push for immigration reform has stalled in Congress and little action is expected during the rest of this election year. The problem can be solved if Congress would pass a viable and accessible guest-worker program, Eckel said. Otherwise, he and other farmers say they are not going to take the risk of planting crops they can't harvest for lack of a workforce. Eckels estimated the value of his tomato crop at $1.5 million to $2 million. "It is a real concern, and we are disappointed that Congress has failed to act," said Peter Furey, executive director of the New Jersey Farm Bureau. "Ultimately, consumers will feel this." Eckel warned that unless the issue was resolved, it would eventually drive the fresh fruit and vegetable industry offshore, causing an inevitable rise in food prices.
Last year, Eckel employed 180 people, but this spring, when he plants crops that can be handled by machines, he will employ five. Farmers across the country who depend on immigrant labor are facing the same decision as Eckel: Do they forge ahead and risk losing a crop, or do they plant another crop for which a machine can do the work? "It is one of those situations where the ground is shifting under your feet and you may not notice it until two or five years out," said Jack King, director of national programs for the California Farm Bureau Federation. Workers on Eckel's farm averaged $16.59 an hour "and they earned every penny of it," Eckel said. "No one will harvest tomatoes in 90 degree weather except immigrant labor," he said. And a number of people who worked in his packing house were retired workers picking up a few extra dollars, he said. Congress needs to act, said Furey of the New Jersey Farm Bureau: "We need a national solution that is realistic, in tune with the economy and fair to the people." Eckel gave President Bush credit for trying to enact meaningful change, but he said a divided Congress and emotions got in the way. He said the climate was such that legal immigrants were fearful of moving across state lines, further exacerbating the problem.
Although his workers have documents proving that they are legal, Eckel said some estimates show that between 60 percent and 70 percent of the documents are fraudulent.
"We can no longer take the risk," he said. "We have done everything we can to comply with the law." Most farmers are honest, he said, but rather than run the risk of losing their crop, they simply won't plant one.
"It's a very uncertain time," said King of the California Farm Bureau. "Farmers are scared stiff on this immigration thing. They are operating at the mercy of the federal government." King said that some of the state's vegetable growers were moving their operations to Mexico, raising concerns about food safety.
Last year Eckel planted 2.3 million tomato plants over 340 acres of his Lackawanna County farm, a crop that he estimated supplied about 75 percent of the fresh tomatoes in produce aisles between Boston and Washington. He said his was the largest tomato producing operation north of the Mason-Dixon Line and east of Ohio. This year, he is planting about 45 acres of sweet corn, and 1,200 acres of corn for grain.
When his mother asked where they will get tomatoes this summer, her son said: "We'll buy from one of our good neighbors."


patriot said...

dee has aldheimers again. Liquid already explained to you how many unused visas there are for obtaining foreign workers for the farming industry. Liquid, guess you will have to tell dee yet again!

Anonymous said...

H-1B (skilled, high tech), H-2A (agricultural) and H-2B (non-agricultural) temporary/seasonal worker visas are contributors to our illegal immigration problem. The government issues these visas with no mechanism to ensure that the recipients depart when their visa expires. Approximately 45% of illegal aliens in America are here because they have overstayed their visas and refuse to leave, greatly contributing to our illegal immigration problem.

Remember this: there is nothing more permanent than a temporary worker.

We should not be issuing any visas unless we ensure we have enforcement mechanisms in place to make sure the temporary workers depart and abide by the terms of the visa.

Anonymous said...

Illegal immigration...it's mainly about these things:

An endless supply of cheap labor from Latin America and a goal to integrate these workers completely into our country to totally destroy our native and legal workforce. By making us totally powerless through enfranchisement of third world masses, a whole new uneducated population is created that can be led to keep particular political groups and politicians on top. Political power and cheap labor for business are the real reasons immigration rights groups are opposed to immigration law enforcement and successful immigration enforcement programs.

We are looking at a radical shift in politics and an upheaval in American demographics resulting in the disenfranchisement of most current native American citizens and legal immigrants that have achieved citizenship.

There are no borders in the global economy of seeking out the cheapest labor possible. There is no allegiance to America by the merchants of destruction who seek out every dollar for their pocket at the expense of the American taxpayer and worker who bear the burden of these uneducated, mostly illiterate, transplants.

Thomas Jefferson saw it coming over 200 years ago when he said: “Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.”

Anonymous said...

'Cheap' Tomatoes: The Fallacy
By Digger

The story below is brought to you from an English teacher and was written around the time of the amnesty push. Let us revisit how "cheap" tomatoes (or lettuce or grapes or substitute your favorite fruit or vegetable) are due to illegal aliens.


This should make everyone think, be you Democrat, Republican or
Independent or whatever.

From a California school teacher - - -

"As you listen to the news about the student protests over illegal immigration, there are some things that you should be aware of: I am in charge of the English-as-a-second-language department at a large southern California high school which is designated a Title 1 school, meaning that its student's average lower socioeconomic and income levels.

Most of the schools you are hearing about, South Gate High, Bell Gardens, Huntington Park, etc., where these students are protesting, are also Title 1 schools. Title 1 schools are on the free breakfast and free lunch program. When I say free breakfast, I'm not talking a glass of milk and roll -- but a full breakfast and cereal bar with fruits and juices that would make a Marriott proud. The waste of this food is monumental, with trays and trays of it being dumped in the trash uneaten. (OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK)

I estimate that well over 50% of these students are obese or at least moderately overweight. About 75% or more DO have cell phones. The school also provides day care centers for the unwed teenage pregnant girls (some as young as 13) so they can attend class without the inconvenience of having to arrange for babysitters or having family watch their kids. (OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK)

I was ordered to spend $700,000 on my department or risk losing funding for the upcoming year even though there was little need for anything; my budget was already substantial. I ended up buying new computers for the computer learning center, half of which, one month later, have been carved with graffiti by the appreciative students who obviously feel humbled and grateful to have a free education in America. (OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK)

I have had to intervene several times for young and substitute teachers whose classes consist of many illegal immigrant students here in the country less then 3 months who raised so much hell with the female teachers, calling them "Putas" (V******V) and throwing things, that the teachers were in tears.

Free medical, free education, free food, day care etc., etc, etc. Is it any wonder they feel entitled to not only be in this country but to demand rights, privileges and entitlements?

To those who want to point out how much these illegal immigrants contribute to our society because they LIKE their gardener and housekeeper and they like to pay less for tomatoes: spend some time in the real world of illegal immigration and see the TRUE costs.

Higher insurance, medical facilities closing, higher medical costs, more crime, lower standards of education in our schools, overcrowding, new diseases etc., etc, etc. For me, I'll pay more for tomatoes.

Americans! We need to wake up. The guest worker program will be a disaster because we won't have the guts to enforce it. Does anyone in their right mind really think they will voluntarily leave and return?

It does, however, have everything to do with culture: A third-world culture that does not value education, that accepts children getting pregnant and dropping out of school by 15 and that refuses to assimilate, and an American culture that has become so weak and worried about "political correctness" that we don't have the will to do anything about it.

If this makes your blood boil, as it did mine, forward this to everyone you know.

CHEAP LABOR! Isn't that what the whole immigration issue is about?

Business doesn't want to pay a decent wage.

Consumers don't want expensive produce.

Government will tell you Americans don't want the jobs.

But the bottom line is cheap labor. The phrase "cheap labor" is a myth, a farce, and a lie. There is no such thing as "cheap labor."

Take, for example, an illegal alien with a wife and five children. He takes a job for $5.00 or 6. 00/hour. At that wage, with six dependents, he pays no income tax, yet at the end of the year, if he files an Income Tax Return, he gets an "earned income credit" of up to $3,200 free.

He qualifies for Section 8 housing and subsidized rent.

He qualifies for food stamps.

He qualifies for free (no deductible, no co-pay) health care.

His children get free breakfasts and lunches at school.

He requires bilingual teachers and books.

He qualifies for relief from high energy bills.

If they are or become, aged, blind or disabled, they qualify for SSI. Once qualified for SSI they can qualify for Medicare. All of this is at (our) taxpayer's expense.

He doesn't worry about car insurance, life insurance, or homeowners insurance.

Taxpayers provide Spanish language signs, bulletins and printed material.

He and his family receive the equivalent of $20.00 to $30.00/hour in benefits.

Working Americans are lucky to have $5.00 or $6.00/hour left after paying their bills and his.

The American taxpayers also pay for increased crime, graffiti and trash clean-up.

Cheap labor! YEAH RIGHT! Wake up people!


Anonymous said...

Cheap Lettuce

It is my opinion that American political leaders believe that Mexico’s citizens have elected them. I say that because illegals reap benefits that legal American citizens do not. Illinois is one of 10 states that provide in state college tuition to illegals at the expense of legal taxpayers. You and I, both Democrat and Republican foot the bill, not for sons and daughters of Illinois and not sons and daughters of Iowa, Missouri, Indiana or Wisconsin or any state. But we do offer the sons and daughters of Mexico in state tuition at the taxpayers expense. Legal aliens from Mexico have to pay out of state tuition, so there is great incentive to be an illegal alien. Cheap lettuce never tasted so good.

One of the other great benefits that illegals receive is they are rewarded for their illegal activity. If illegals don’t pay taxes, not a problem, not for an illegal. I wonder if legal American citizens stopped paying taxes, would the IRS just forget it. I’ll bet not. Cheap strawberries never tasted so good.

Some of the great things that come with illegals are, Mexican gangs, illegal drugs, crimes of all kinds, you can find a story almost everyday about an illegal committing a rape, drunk driving, robbery, and murder. Once the illegal has a green card, the entire family then is eligible for entry into the USA. I read that the Mexican gangs are now working with terrorist to sell drugs on our streets to fund terror around the world. {Washington Times} When these criminals are caught and imprisoned like in California , the cost is staggering. $1 Billion a year is spent on illegals in prison in the state of California. California also spends more than $2.2 billion a year on educating Mexican citizens. Like they don’t have enough problems. Cheap apples never tasted so good.

In the last Amnesty debate Democratic and Republicans voters spoke clearly to America’s political leadership rebuking any idea of amnesty, and in building the wall and not spending tax money on illegals.. It was a pleasure to find that Democrats and Republicans can, in fact, work together to achieve what the country needs and people desire. The people stopped our foolish leaders but only for a day.

Amnesty has reared its ugly head again. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin worked very hard for the citizens of Mexico again. Last October, Mr. Durbin added “the Dream Act” as an amendment in the military defense spending bill S2919 . There were three bills that include amnesty that fall session. Fortunately, they went nowhere. But be aware, America, amnesty is NOT over and the illegal alien huggers will continue to bring it along every chance they have. Most recently, the Hispanic Caucus is working on putting out an amnesty bill in the U.S. House before the presidential election this year. Cheap lettuce never tasted so good.

Clearly, America’s political leadership has attempted to hide amnesty in these bills because they can’t be successful or honest with the American people. Cheap oranges never tasted so good.

It’s my opinion that amnesty will happen in the dark of night and behind closed doors. As this nations leaders import Mexico’s poor to replace people in existing jobs and offer welfare to illegal Mexican citizens, know that this nations leadership is on the verge of giving legal American taxpayers all the cheap lettuce we can stand and shove it down our throat. The items I find interesting are that when our political leaders have achieved amnesty for the people of Mexico, the price of lettuce will be sky high and it’s quite obvious that Washington has way to much money on their hands.

I would like to ask both Democrats and Republicans to come together for this issue again and let our will be heard because evidently our leaders are not to be trusted.

Liquidmicro said...

More of "the system is broken" BS. He does not use the H-2A program, but I bet he sure takes the sub-sidie. He planted only 340 acres, out of

Planted: 40,500 acres of fresh and 318,000 acres of processed

Harvested: 37,400 acres of fresh and 313,000 acres of processed

As you see, he has a very small amount of Tomatoes compared to the rest of the USA. As for produce coming in from other countries, it has been for a long, long time, nothing new. Look to the $50M lettuce farmer who already moved operations to Mexico.

Liquidmicro said...

Eckel does not participate in the federal government’s H-2A guest worker program, which allows farmers to bring in foreigners if they can prove that workers can’t be found locally. Like many farmers, Eckel believes the program is too cumbersome. He said he wouldn’t qualify for it anyway because his growing season is too short.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, U.S. farmers hired only about 75,000 H-2A workers in 2007 — while an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 workers in the United States were illegal immigrants.

dianne said...

You see, once again we have business crying but they don't shoulder the bills. We do. I can grow my own tomatos, even can them, even make my own ketchup.

Dee said...

I saw many of our articles all over the ANTI websites, like the so called teacher comment. Just more ANTI rants.

Dee said...

I believe the farmer in the fact that Tomatoes require manual workers vs automation (corn, grain). He will probably grow all corn for ethanol.

Many farmers are doing this vs trying to fight the system they beleive is Broken. More profit in ethanol for them anyway.

We will be stuck either paying higher vegetable prices or growing our own tomatoes. My mother grew them too Dianne. She also canned, etc. Very, very messy. Good for you though Dianne. It does take diligence.

patroit said...

dee, of course there are not RANTS from the pro side, is there? LOL! You rant in here all the time! I have visited pro sites, they are RANTING too.

Anonymous said...

I'll gladly pay extra for tomatoes grown in Mexico and picked by Mexicans.

Dee said...

Welcome Cerebus,
I just visited your "The Old White Guy" blog. I like it except for the HRC bashing.
I used to live in MA. I moved back to TX to be closer to family and to nice weather. Those nor´easters are crazy up there!
It does look like we will have to buy-eat those International tomatoes this year forward or grow them ourselves!
Regardless of what Liquid and Pat say, I still feel sorry for the farmers like Keith Eckel who are giving up on tomatoes for good due to the broken immigration policies.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dee,
I think it is time to back off the HRC bashing. It was not based on gender, but rather the way she and her husband conduct themselves in the political arena. Two of her high level supporters on both the state and national level are good friends of mine. I would like to see a woman in office, just not that one.
As far as immigration is concerned, I am a second generation American who appreciates the cultural confluence this country offers. The sad thing about illegal immigrants is that they allow Mexico to ignore the problems that caused them to migrate in the first place. That is why I would gladly buy produce from Mexico. It helps them; we can grow other crops; and an economically strong southern partner is a good thing.

Dee said...

That is one area many of us (Pro and ANTI) agree on. We agree on the negative impacts NAFTA has had on MX farming. One way to reduce illegal immigration would be to buy produce from Mexico -- increased MX Farming. You are right. It would help them, we can grow other crops and I also agree having an economically strong southern partner is a good thing.

Liquidmicro said...

In Florida Groves, Cheap Labor Means Machines

I guess this farmer just doesn't want to catch up to the times, as they have changed significantly. Mechanization is the only way to go for farmers to be able to compete on the worlds economy. However, it seems Mr. Eckel prefers to sell locally and reap a large profit.

"Global competition is pressing American farmers on many fronts. American raisins are facing competition from Chile and Turkey. For fresh tomatoes, the challenge comes from Mexico. China, whose Fuji apples have displaced Washington's Golden Delicious from most Asian markets — and whose apple juice has swamped the United States — is cutting into American farmers' markets for garlic, broccoli and a host of other crops.


"The rest of the world hand-picks everything, but their wage rates are a fraction of ours," said Galen Brown, who led the mechanical harvesting program at the Florida Department of Citrus until his retirement last year. Lee Simpson, a raisin grape grower in California's San Joaquin Valley, is more blunt. "The cheap labor," he said, "isn't cheap enough.""

Liquidmicro said...

Maybe, too, this is why the H-2A Visa program isn't being used, "The cheap labor isn't cheap enough."

Anonymous said...

This is one of the standard lies told by pro illegal alien groups. It is used a lot by those who crave cheap labor. I have heard it used for just about any hand picked crop. Heard it last year on peaches and strawberries. Yet there was no shortage of either in the market or an abnormal increase in cost.

What many may not know is that tomatoes which are harvested for canning are more then often mechanically harvested. Tomatoes for processing are bred to ripen at the same time and the bush is compact for machine picking. As most can verify fresh use tomatoes are moving in this direction. Store bought tomatoes are often hard, green and tough. Just perfect for machine harvesting. To say you need more imported labor to pick your crops or they will rot is total BS. The folks that propagate such tales suffer from the affliction called greed.

This argument is often carried further to say produce would be outrageously expensive. Several studies have shown that to pay a living wage in agriculture would only increase produce cost to the consumer by pennies.

A friend of mine in Texas had 28 acres of pecans. He would hire a large Hispanic family to pick the nuts. They would spend almost a month picking them. The nuts would then be shipped to a processing plant where the husk or skin would be removed. One day a guy stopped by and asked my friend how many acres of nuts he had and if he would like to try out his picking machines. My friend thought about it and said yes, mostly because he wanted to see the machines. The man brought in his machines and in 3 days picked the entire 28 acres of trees. Not only were the nuts picked, but the machine stripped off the skin or husks. The nuts were also boxed and ready to be shipped.
When ever labor costs rise, innovation and mechanization usually take over. The crying for use of illegal cheap labor is the equivalent of slave owners wanting to keep their cotton pickers.

Dee said...

Farmer Eckel disputes the cheap labor assumptions:

"Workers on Eckel's farm averaged $16.59 an hour "and they earned every penny of it," Eckel said. "No one will harvest tomatoes in 90 degree weather except immigrant labor," he said."

Liquidmicro said...

Who cares what Farmer Eckel says. Farmer Eckel has his opnion, for which it has been shown to be just that, his opinion. Me thinks he is upset that the global market is infiltrating his local market, and that is what is really driving him out of growing tomatoes. And that he enjoys $$$$, he has mechanized for corn according to the article, why can't he mechanize for tomatoes too? Is he interjecting his personal views of the Immigration mess with his business?

Martin said...

anon posted the SoCal School Chain letter (about the school students and Title 1 schools throwing away food)that has been making the rounds all over the place! here is what dvorak.com had to say.
it starts.
"Here's the chain letter going around. Everyone knows someone who knows someone who knows this person somehow."

"Generally speaking I personally consider these sorts of "real" letters quite dubious unless someone signs the letter and takes credit for it. Otherwise I suspect it's political propaganda. This letter is no exception. This is not to say that this letter is not true nor that it was not indeed forwarded by some "retired co-worker" whose anonymous wife wrote the article.
Snopes still has not determined that it is true.
Chain letters should not be construed as facts simply because they "prove my point", there are other data that could be used on both sides of the issue.

Anonymous said...

of course, that is the ANTI's agenda to spread fear in hopes of gaining their MayBerrian Society

Dee said...

Thank you for letting us know about the Chain Letter. One of the anon´s frequently posts known anti chain letters and dubious articles from ANTI sites. I appreciate your letting us know about this one.

Also, welcome to my Blog! I love it when new people join us! I hope you come back often!!

patriot said...

Oh, dee stop posting as anon for God's sake this is getting childish. You aren't even bright enough to not give yourself away with your ANTI in caps and your Mayberrian remarks.

My how you must hate anglo culture in this country to make snide remarks about Mayberry constantly. Too bad, go live in a Hispanic country then.

Dee said...

Pat, Pat, Pat,
You are the Anon poster not me.
I have no need to post as Anon. I am Dee. If I was shy, I would not host a blog!

dianne said...

Hey, the tomato guy story was on Fox News last night.

I was just thinking about the wages he pays his pickers..about the same as my daughter makes as a rural mail carrier for the US Post Office..you have to be able to lift up to 70 lbs. and be out in every kind of weather imaginable as part of the job requirements.

patriot said...

dee, for the last time, I have never posted as anon in this blog! But if ever I did I sure wouldn't be stupid enough to give myself away as you do with your ANTI in caps and your constant Mayberrian references.

No, you are the only one who has reason to post as anon because everyone disagrees with you in here and you needed a sock puppet to finally have some one on your side. I have plenty of support in here. You have zilch!

Dee said...

My brother in law is a retired mail carrier. I agree they do lift, carry, (drive) and have very good benefits for about the same $ per hour. However, I think we all agree, the outside bend over picking and harvesting in constant hot sun is much more difficult.

Dee said...

Pat, Pat, Pat, I have no reason to post as Anon. Quitcher silly accusations. Your accusations are beyond ridiculous.
Try to stick to logical arguments based on the topic. We would ALL appreciate it!

patriot said...

Keep denying it dee you show your dishonesty more and more by doing it. No one but you posts ANTI'S in caps and constantly harps about Mayberry. You must think we are all pretty stupid in here.

Dee said...

Poor Pat,
(Didn´t someone call you the cartoon character from SNL?) The longer you keep up the ludicrous comments, the more ridiculous you become.

Others have used the terms I use. Yes they mirror what I write. That is what happens on blogs sometimes.

I have given you enough rope on this ridiculous argument. I guess I will have to stick to my own policy and delete ludicrous, repetitive or uncivil comments you make. I gave you plenty of rope, now its up to you to stick to the discussions going forward.

Anonymous said...


Anthony said...

I am an AMERICAN Mexican now living in Florida, originally from California where Illegal Immigration has hit in my opinion the hardest. This is the way I want to start this, first my family came to California Legally in the 1800's I am a 3rd generation veteran who joined the military to serve my country like my father and grandfather before me not for the college money, imagine that a true minority most “Mexicans” jaws would drop since the vast majority that come to our country have less than ten years and could care less about what they can give but more of what they can take.
I have seen how large groups of people who break the law on there first step in our country can wreck havoc, it creates a criminal culture with little respect for the law; we allowed it, created it and fed it, and now there children think it’s there right and call it there culture. Illegal’s reasons for being here are irrelevant they did not wait in line and they for the most part are fiercely loyal to there former country which does not foster the melting pot and as usual the Racist is usually the first to call someone a racist, they pull the profiling card I can spot someone who is at the least a recent arrival from Mexico with 95% certainty and if you are a Mexican-American and do not admit this you are lying.
It's about other countries citizens breaking our laws and creating problems for our country and the not anything else unless you want to make it so. Latinos, Hispanics, Mexican-Americans or what ever the latest catch phrase is have been a part of our country for many generations as far back as the 1700’s, these recent immigrants are part of the growing illegal culture that is coming across our border.
I worked at a hospital that closed because of illegal immigration, how do I know this, I was the interpreter for the social services and yes lie's and fraudulent paper work were the norm as well as the 85% of illegal’s I interviewed.
That HA HA HE HE guy is an idiot or should I say IDIOTA he and the like are the type that will never admit the truth they don’t have the parts. An the vast majority of “AMERCANS” of Mexican decent that support the illegal mess are either anchor babies of amnesty, in some way connected closely with Mexico, or the usual poor me’s I hate America types, that is why we need to stop illegal immigration and resume the melting pot theory so that law abiding people will immigrate legally instead of the current crooked and corrupt recent culture of illegal immigrants mostly from Mexico.

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