Press "Enter" to skip to content

Farm Bureau to States: Grant Legal Status to Cheap Mexican Labor

Memo to you South Dakota legislators who think its more important to sing right-wing karaoke about immigration than to fix the budget and fund education: the Farm Bureau is not on your side.

At its annual convention, the corporate lobbying group declared itself more concerned about maintaining its supply of cheap Mexican labor than about closing the border. The group approved a policy that reaffirms its stance that immigration is a federal issue, not something for states to mess around with---woe unto Jan Brewer and legislators elsewhere who would copy Arizona's buckaroo immigration statues.

However, if states are going to get involved, the Farm Bureau wants more local leniency:

"So far, all of these state programs have been on enforcement only," said David Winkles, president of the South Carolina Farm Bureau, whose members proposed the policy. "They don't address the fact that we don't have an adequate labor supply in agriculture."

...Farmers rely on seasonal laborers, including many illegal immigrants, to harvest labor-intensive crops such as strawberries, onions, peaches and tobacco. The agriculture lobbying group says Americans refuse to take the difficult, low-paying jobs.

The federal government has a guest-worker program for agriculture workers, but farmers say it's expensive to use and inflexible.

"If a state can venture into the arenas of enforcing immigration, then they can venture in the arena of granting temporary legal status," Winkles said ["Farm lobbying group cautions states on immigration," AP via Google, 2011.01.12].

The Farm Bureau's predictable focus on Big Ag's bottom line shows the policy contradictions of corporate conservatives: they happily let conservatives play the xenophobia card to rouse the electorate, but they don't want policies arising from that xenophobia that would affect their supply of cheap exploitable labor. They pretend to be patriotic Americans, then blame Americans for their troubles.

But if you Republican legislators still want to grandstand on immigration, knock yourselves out. When Troy Hadrick and the Farm Bureau lobbyists come knocking on your door, tell them pay their workers more by divvying up the lazy $8.5 million they just made by selling their domain to Facebook.