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(Article Summarized by Meridian Institute) In this article, Jennifer Ifft and Travis Grout, both with the School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University, write “The state of U.S. agricultural production is changing. Over the next decade, increases to minimum wage and other changing labor regulations will have a dramatic impact on fruit, vegetable and other labor-intensive agricultural production in the U.S. These impacts will be on top of evolving immigration policies and trends, which have been receiving a lot of attention in mainstream media as well as farm media in recent months.” In this article, they consider the implications, which they say will be substantial, of these changes for agricultural production and farm management. Most U.S. fruit and vegetable production, they write, occurs in states that have, and will continue to see, increases in the minimum wage. Many of these states are also considering new benefits for farmworkers. As a result, say Ifft and Grout, “Many fruit and vegetable farmers, as well as other farms that rely on non-family labor, such as dairy farms, will need to reduce their labor use, increase productivity or take other measures, such as finding new markets, to remain viable.” The authors predict several outcomes as a result of transitions that are likely to occur in labor-intensive agriculture over the next decade, “including accelerated mechanization and technological innovation; increased fresh produce costs and imports; and a continued squeeze on mid-size producers.” Overall, they says, “Farms will need to use a variety of strategies to adapt to the new farm labor market environment.”

Posted June 15th, 2017
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