What’s likely to happen if Congress doesn’t give farmers legal access to even more illiterate peasant labor from south of the border? Robots!:
The farmers are willing to pay up because they’ve been rattled by a labor shortage over the past few years — California growers tell horror stories of watching their fruit rot on the trees as they waited for the picking crews to arrive. Last fall, growers rallied in front of the U.S. Capitol, frustrated that Congress still hadn’t created a program to ease the passage of foreign guest workers across the Mexico border.
With the supply-and-demand equation uncertain, growers see the robots as a better option. “You can predict what it’s going to cost to buy a machine and maintain it,” says Baskin. “You can’t predict the bargaining that we go through with contract labor,” he says.