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Strict immigration laws reduce available farm labor

Throughout the United States, undocumented immigrant workers on farms have faced a growing number of raids and other immigration law enforcement efforts by state authorities, as well as stepped-up enforcement efforts by federal authorities.

The approval of state anti-immigrant laws in a number of states are believed to have kept immigrant workers away, resulting in some labor shortages, and leaving some farmers fearful that higher wages will be required to recruit sufficient numbers of needed agricultural workers.

The harsh crackdown has reportedly resulted in some farmers considering drastic measures such as decreasing the amount of land on which they plant this year's crops, or changing the plants they grow to focus on crops which require less labor to harvest.

In some instances, farm owners fearing such labor shortages may also be holding off on new equipment purchases or buying seed needed to plant their spring crops, uncertain how the situation will impact their business.

According to reports, smaller crops could have an adverse impact on consumers too, resulting in higher food prices or even some shortages of desired foods.

A number of farmers hope to make use of a federally approved guest worker program which authorizes them to bring otherwise undocumented immigrant workers into the country to temporarily perform needed agricultural work.

What many people don't realize is the indirect result of strict illegal immigration laws. Agriculture is just one industry that will likely be affected negatively as a result of the new laws being passed in many states, including South Carolina.

Source: Huffington Post, "After Immigration Crackdown, Farmers Mull Planting," Kate Brumback, Jan. 20, 2012

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