Interesting e-mail in response to my earlier post about Obama telling farmers to call the government, from a reader:
My family has grown tobacco in our area for five generations. It is truly one of those jobs that “Americans won’t do,” but a few still did when I was a kid (and I’m only 47!). To get workers, we go through an official gov’t program to have Mexicans brought to the US. For this honor, we pay them substantially more than minimum wage and are forced to hire any American citizen at any time who shows up and asks for work. For our immigrant workers we are required to provide a free house and transportation and a myriad of other gov’t required items that we dutifully obtain at the start of each season. The documentation is legion, keeping my mother employed full time. The regs have common sense matters but go way beyond. For example, a porto potty in the fields every few acres. LOL, not the case when I worked the farm. We had this thing called “the woods.” Acres of them everywhere.
Recently, the USDA inspectors show up and pull our workers out of the fields for hours of questions (while we still are paying them). They inspect our houses. Several items just not up to code say these inspectors in an accusatory and snide tone. Threw a stack of regulations literally 8 inches high, small type, saying we are responsible to know and to account for each and every one.
Now we treat our workers very well, but we treat them like men, not children. The house was “messy.” My goodness, we need to hire a maid! The screen door was not exactly square with the frame by an 1/8th of an inch. Well many folks around here live in older homes that have settled. The list goes on, but no item was such that our workers thought there was a problem. The worst part is we were treated like criminals. We are awaiting our fine for our failing to memorize every federal regulation applicable to us.
My dad is 67 and told the feds that he was out of farming due to this ridiculous bureaucracy and storm trooper treatment. Their arrogant reply, “well the law lets us inspect your land and homes one year after you have left farming, so you can’t keep us off your land next year either.”
Lose a tobacco farm with Mexican labor, big deal right? We have many hundreds of thousands of dollars in tractors, equipment, and vehicles locally. We buy hundreds of thousands of dollars of seed, fertilizer, and pesticides locally. We have accountants and lawyers (sadly) and bull dozer operators and IT help and use carpenters and pest control and the roto rooter man. And we do have American citizens on the payroll.
The farmer that quizzed the President is absolutely correct. The federal government is now the enemy of farming. No one is going to want to do it when this generation retires, and it’s happening fast. Of five siblings, only one tries to farm and he is subject to the same treatment.
I’m not a pessimist, but I fear it is too late to save us. The regulatory monster has won. And even as we sleep, it grows in size, scope, and arrogance. Freedom dies with each paper cut.