Immigration reform and guest worker programs for agriculture are hot topics this election year, and few are more aware of these problems than state farm bureau associations. Peter Daniel, assistant to the president of North Carolina Farm Bureau:
“Our North Carolina legislature passed an e-verify law last summer, and just the rumor of e-verify caused a guest worker shortage in our state, and cost many farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost income.”
Daniel says that congress really needs to get off of high-center on this issue:
“Congress is in a gridlock on how to address the guest workers in this nation, and those that the industry and the business and farming of agriculture need to produce their crop.”
Other states that have implemented rigorous immigration legislation are already seeing reduced acres of crops that require manual labor for the fear that they will not have the labor to harvest those crops.
Sequestration Seems Likely
Under the Budget Control Act passed in August, 2011, without a farm bill, “sequestration” will take place. That is to say there will be automatic budget cuts. For farm bill spending that would be a $15.6 billion cut, based on rough estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. By law the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Conservation Reserve Program are exempt from sequestration.
Ag Pleased with DOL Decision…maybe
Agriculture has responded positively to news from the Department of Labor that it will re-propose the parental exemption in the child labor rule. But not so fast, says Bill Field, Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue. Field says last week's announcement by DOL makes it clear the department intends to move forward:
“It appears as if the other package that they see here as being those other rules will be moving forward and possibly being sent back for consideration possibly sometime this summer.”
Need a Job? Create an App!
A new study suggests a promising job creator could be in apps – the services and tools built to run on smartphones, computer tablets and Facebook's online social network. The demand for applications for everything ranging from games to quantum physics has created 466,000 jobs in the U.S. since 2007. Mike Mandel is the economist who put the report together for the technology trade group "TechNet". This is why he thinks the industry will only keep growing:
“The apps economy is going to turn out to be one of the jobs leaders in the expansion of the economy in the coming years, it’s not just a flash in the pan. If these jobs could be created in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression, it’s going to keep creating jobs, there isn’t any doubt about it.”
There are several app’s available for agricultural use, from calculators, management information and weather.
UNFAO Predicts Higher Food Prices
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization says global food output must rise 70 percent by 2050 to feed a world population expected to grow to 9 billion people. Another cause for concern is that wealthy consumers in developing economies are increasingly eating more meat. Paul Conway, vice chairman of Cargill, says you don’t have to be a reviving bull on commodities to believe that the era — which went from the 50s to the early 80s — of ever decreasing food prices in real terms, has probably come to an end.