How Trump's Travel Ban affecting Farmers in USA

March 09, 2017

How Trump's Travel Ban affecting Farmers in USA

It would seem that newly elected president of the United States Donald Trump’s immigration order is a source of concern for most of the country’s blueberry farmers.

Bill Mortellite, part of the 3rd generation of his family to grow blueberries in New Jersey (the Blueberry capital of the world, as it is fondly called), needs almost about 125 workers to farm his 240-acre land. With the traveling ban order in place, he reckons he’d be lucky to find ten hands willing to work for him.

His reason is that people are so concerned about President Trump’s hardball style on his immigration policies that they wouldn’t want to risk working on the blueberry fields in New Jersey.

To be on the safe side of events, Bill admitting to purchasing a used mechanical harvest due to the potential shortage of labor.

“We’ve got three strikes against us,” Mortellite said. “The weather isn’t good. The market is not okay, and the government policy too is not good.” Like it is in many parts of the country, a lot of the helping hands on the field in New Jersey farms hired during harvest time are primarily from Mexico due to the ever increasing number of Americans who are uninterested in the difficult farm work. The blueberry season in New Jersey starts in June and lasts for about four weeks.

Harvesters are now trying to make arrangements with contractors to help provide a team of migrants to work on the field during picking season.

President Trump has made fortifying the Mexican border a focal point in his young administration. It includes documented plans to construct a wall along the US-Mexico border.

President Trump has also promised to step up the deportations of unregistered immigrants, especially those who have past criminal records in the country.

According to the States Department of Agriculture, about 50% of migrant farm workers in the United states do not have the legal permission to work, while NGOs that collaborate with migrants approximate that number to be a whopping 60 percent. The consistent use of fake documents and an increasing shortage of labor has complicated things for both the U.S. and the Mexican government.

It is expected to be further aggravated by President Trump’s forceful crackdown on immigrants 

“They are concerned they won’t have enough people,” said the leader of the New Jersey Blueberry Industrial advisory council, Tim Wetherbee. “Each year, it’s more and more difficult to field a team.” Tim Wetherbee is also a sales manager with Diamond Blueberry.

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