The Year in Food 2007

Nothing at the Labor Market

It’s now a sad rite of the harvest season: the newspaper stories about farmers who complain that their crops are going unpicked because of a shortage of workers. But amid this year’s high-volume debate over immigration—illegals are said to make up 50 to 75 percent of all farmworkers—increased raids and stepped-up border patrols made the labor market even tighter. In response, a few California farmers moved their whole operations across the border to Mexico. After immigration reform was tabled, the Bush administration quietly began loosening the rules to make it easier for potential farmworkers to get visas. But an unlikely alliance between unions and agribusiness pushed the AgJOBS bill, which would allow illegal immigrants to work legally and later apply for residency. —Nicholas Day