“The work is difficult, especially in the fields, and it’s not necessarily unskilled work," says custodial worker and former welder Glenn Hendrickson, who settled on farm work after trying to find a different career path. However, after realizing how difficult the work is, he noticed that the tough labor on the farm was not being fitted by Americans; rather, more non-native born Americans perpetrated this industry. However, this is changing. The rhetoric of the Trump administration and the increased presence of ICE in many areas has begun to hurt the economy in states where immigrants support the agriculture and hospitality industries.
Because of the crackdown on immigrants, workers are not showing up or in some instances, have fled. Hillandale Farms, a major national egg producer and distributor, was desperately seeking to fill vacant jobs this summer, according to a company official, because much of its Hispanic work force had disappeared.
Much of rural America voted for Trump because of his immigration policies, but many are having second thoughts. A common view held now is that not enough American people will go out and work on a farm, or do planting and pick vegetables like immigrants will. Growers across the nation have been calling their Congress members out of a lack of patience. Kay Hollabaugh, a grower in Pennsylvania, said, “If we could simply stop producing food for a month - OK, no food, no food - I think perhaps that would make some bells go off [in Congress]."
OUR VERDICT: As the debate over immigration develops in Washington D.C., farmers may get some relief. The U.S. Labor Department has issued 20 percent more H-2A visas in 2017, compared to last year, with most coming from Mexico. Those visas are for seasonal agricultural work, such as harvesting berries, fruit or other crops. However, watch as more of rural America questions their vote.