Consider this when we hear the agriculture industry crying that they need illegal alien labor or “guest worker” labor to pick their fruit or harvest their vegetables. This will be coming up soon with Senate debate on the AgJobs bill which seeks to increase the number of guest workers we have already. The real story is - the growers want CHEAP labor. They don’t have a labor shortage. They have a shortage of CHEAP labor so they can compete with other countries which use their own indigenous slave labor. That’s thanks to the free trade agreements our politicians have saddled us with. Our own people now have to compete with foreign countries paying $50 a month for labor. THAT is the real problem. Open “free” trade is not necessarily good for the local economies and will only serve to even out the incomes of the “workers” of the world while making the business elites rich.
Read the article on automation here I believe, as do many others, that automation will be the answer to allowing us to compete with cheap foreign labor without importing millions of unskilled people from third world countries.
In the not too distant future, the apple you place in your child’s lunchbox may be picked from the tree by a robotic arm. “We will have trained people operating equipment with robotic components” in the next several years, said Karen Lewis, a Washington State University Extension educator who has been working with state tree fruit growers for 20 years.
Their collective goal is to trim production costs 30 percent by 2010. Labor effi ciency and safety Labor is by far the largest production input. Depending on the technologies employed and the production system, it takes 130 to 210 man hours annually to grow an acre of apples or pears.
“New orchards — are taking into consideration the need to build systems that are human friendly, machine friendly and robotic friendly,” Lewis said. While the orchard of tomorrow is expected to employ fewer people, the jobs that remain will be better. “We will reduce the physical risk and drudgery and increase the intellectual contribution of those who are employed,” Lewis said.