Eastern apple grower-shippers ponder immigration reform questions

08/27/2010 08:52:34 PM
Jim Offner

“Every year there seems to be new scenarios where we look for and find the labor, or there are new scenarios that take labor away from us.”

The apple industry is united in pushing for comprehensive immigration reform, said Tim Mansfield, sales and marketing director of Burt, N.Y.-based Sun Orchard Fruit Co.

“U.S. Apple and the different groups that work with the industry are working hard with the legislatures to make sure there’s something in there that makes sense for agriculture,” he said.

“We need to make sure there is a labor supply. When it comes down to it, it’s difficult to find it internally. My parents supplemented their income by working in the orchards. That was 40 years ago.”

But the economy will have to get a lot worse to see that sort of scenario again, Mansfield said.

“It seems like it’s a different world and it will have to get a lot worse for people to really get back involved in the harvest in agriculture,” he said.

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