Skip to comments.Major Northeast tomato grower ends crop over migrant shortage
Posted on 03/24/2008 3:39:21 PM PDT by raybbr
CLARKS SUMMIT, Pa. - Saying the nation's immigration system is broken, Pennsylvania's largest grower of fresh-to-market tomatoes announced Monday he will no longer produce the crop because he can't find enough workers to harvest it.
Keith Eckel, 61, a fourth-generation farmer and the owner of Fred W. Eckel Sons Farms, said he saw a dramatic decline last summer in the number of migrant workers who showed up to pick tomatoes at his 2,000-acre farm in northeastern Pennsylvania.
He said Congress' failure to approve comprehensive immigration reform had hindered his ability to hire enough workers to get his crop to the market. Most of Eckel's workers came from Mexico.
"There are a number of workers hesitant to travel, legal or illegal, because of the scrutiny they are now under," said Eckel, whose tomatoes have been shipped to supermarkets and restaurants throughout the eastern United States. "So there are less workers crossing state lines."
Eckel, who planted 2.2 million tomato plants last year, said he also will stop growing pumpkins and plant half as much sweet corn as usual, resulting in a loss of nearly 175 jobs.
Eckel, one of the largest growers of fresh-market tomatoes in the Northeast, said it cost him $1.5 million to $2 million to plant and harvest a tomato crop , too much of an investment to risk not having enough workers at harvest time.
"The system to provide our labor is broken and the emotion surrounding the immigration issue is standing in the way of those in the political arena moving forward to solve it," Eckel told a news conference at his farm in Clarks Summit.
(Excerpt) Read more at philly.com ...
um - lemme guess what hes gonna grow now....biofuel?
We have 20-40 mil illegals, along with the legal immigrants, guest worker programs, etc. and we can’t get some measley tomatos harvested? He is right, the system is broken but not the way he thinks it is broken.
More dishonest conflating of legal and illegal in order to play the victim card.
If the government stopped paying people not to work there would be plenty of help available.
Let Eckel and other hirers of illegals go belly up. Too bad ICE didn’t raid him during an earlier harvest.
Part of HIS job is to set a salary that will attract sufficient labor. Looks like a poor immigration strategy had been subsidizing the poor business practices of a (soon to be) poor businessman. Adapt or die.
Hmm. Lets see now.
How did we ever grow & harvest food and grain without 20 million illegal immigrants, again?
Since when did Pa. ever have a large immigrant population anyway, other than the last decade?
Employ illegals and lose your business should be the law of the land.
Sounds like a passage from Atlas Shrugged.
Isn’t that what summer vacation is for?
I believe Australia solved its grape picking problem by having engineers design machines to do the work. Imagine that. An Aussie gets to ride around on a mechanical harvester that does all the hard work. I'll bet they have air conditioning. I think they are using mechanical harvesters to pick grapes in California.
If Eckel wasn't such a cheap bsatrad resorting to slave wage immigrants, he could help the American economy improve productivity through innovation and technology. There is no shortage of illegal immigrants. The ones that are here want more money than he is willing to pay out.
Folks like Mr. Eckel helped create this problem. Now he has the audacity to blame the government when it bites him in the ass. He’s obviously a “compassionate” conservative.
Why doesn’t he use the same harvesting machines we use in California?
All he knows is he wants his illegal alien cheap labor and the rest can go to hell
We are inundated with illegal aliens but too many have figured out how to stay here without picking his tomatoes. If there was enforcement in other industries there would be plenty of illegals to pick crops
If McCain and Congress legalized 20 million illegal aliens what makes this guy think he will get his farm laborers?
Why should they work when they can just stay home and collect welfare and food stamps?
How sympathetic would this farmer sound if he said, "I can't find enough people to exploit and pay sh*t wages to."
The real phrase should be "...enough CHEAP workers".
This idiotic objection came up in California when the Bracero Program ended. The Braceros were replaced by harvesting machines. I rode the FMC tomato harvester and watched it do what the farmers said couldn't be done.
We'll never know if technology can do this work because idiots feel it is easier to exploit a whole class of people.
Ok so the price of tomatoes will skyrocket to $7/lb. Maybe that is the real price of tomatoes, not the illegal labor subsidized price.
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