Migration Policy Institute
What's New in Farm Labor? Immigration and the Agricultural Sector
Philip Martin, Chair, UC Comparative Immigration & Integration Program, University of California, Davis
Tom Hertz, Economist, Rural Economy Branch, Resource and Rural Economics Division, Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Craig Regelbrugge, Senior Vice President, Industry Advocacy and Research, AmericanHort
Marc Rosenblum, Deputy Director, U.S. Immigration Policy Program, Migration Policy Institute
Recently released farm labor data show that after a decade of stability, the number of full-time jobs in agriculture rose 14 percent between 2007 and 2012, to 1.4 million. This growing segment of the agricultural workforce is comprised largely of immigrants, with more than half of U.S. crop workers over the past two decades here in unauthorized status.
This expert discussion covers the findings of the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS), including data that illustrate that the workforce on U.S. crop farms, which is composed largely of unauthorized Mexican immigrants, is aging and increasingly settled in the United States. Panelists provide an overview of farm labor in 2015; discuss trends demonstrated by the NAWS; and examine how fading prospects for comprehensive immigration reform, the expansion of the H-2A program, and possible eligibility for deferred action programs may impact the agricultural workforce. The discussion also includes an analysis of possible future policies that could impact immigrant workers in the agricultural sector.