Projects Funded for Philip Martin

2017-2018

Immigration and California Agriculture

2016-2017

Supply Chains, Labor, and California Agriculture

Abstract

Specific Objectives of the Project

 The average employment of hired workers in California agriculture has been rising, topping 420,000 in 2015 and almost three times the 152,000 average employment in the state’s food manufacturing industry. Almost 850,000 unique workers fill these full-time equivalent jobs, a ratio of two workers per FTE job.

This project focused on three issues in 2016-17. First was immigration, and how the stepped up enforcement promised by the Trump Administration is affecting the supply of labor to California agriculture. Second, there are few unauthorized newcomers and little follow-the-crop migrancy, so farm employers are responding with 4-S strategies, viz, satisfy, stretch, substitute, and supplement current workforces. Third, the project analyzed the likely effects of raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022, requiring farmers to pay overtime after 8 hours a day or 40 a week, and the effects of buyer-imposed labor-compliance programs on fruit and vegetable growers.

The project supported a major conference April 15, 2016 at the UCD Law School that attracted over 120 participants to discuss water, labor, and immigration. Dissemination included research articles, shorter papers in ARE Update, and Rural Migration News (http://migration.ucdavis.edu), which analyzes the most important farm labor and water issues facing California agriculture each quarter for over 1,000 subscribers.

Summary of Results

Farm employment has been rising as more expensive land and water is used to produce fruits and vegetables, which are more labor-intensive than the field crops they replace. Working closely with the state Employment Development Department, analysis finds that average farm employment has been rising by 10,000 a year, and the number of unique workers employed in agriculture had increased by 20,000 a year, so that in 2015 some 850,000 unique workers filled an average 420,000 farm jobs.

Meanwhile, the hired workforce on crop farms is aging (average 38) and settling, so that follow the crop migration has almost disappeared, making farm workers less flexible. Farm employers are responding with 4-S strategies, viz, satisfy, stretch, substitute and supplement. Employers try to satisfy current workers to retain them longer and stretch them with mechanical aids that increase productivity and make farm work easier. The third strategy is substitution, replacing workers with machines, or switching crops, and the fourth is to supplement with H-2A guest workers.

In the medium term, the two dominant strategies are likely to be substitution and supplement, a race between labor-saving technologies and guest worker admissions determined by labor cost trends. Policy will shape responses in particular commodities. For example, the raisin industry is likely to shrink faster as labor costs rise and some farmers mechanize while others switch to almonds. Strawberries are more likely to supplement with guest workers and use conveyor belts to stretch workers until there is a mechanization breakthrough or imports rise.

This project monitored farm labor developments for their impacts on the competitiveness of California agriculture, conducted research that was published in a variety of outlets, and made presentations to a dozen groups ranging from the CA Association of Winegrape Growers to the National Milk Producers Federation, plus talks in classes at UCD and elsewhere.

2015-2016

Labor, Water, and California Agriculture

Abstract

Specific Objectives of the Project
Hired workers do most of California’s farm work, almost all were born outside the US, and two-thirds are not authorized to work in the US. Agriculture uses about 80 percent of the state's developed or storable water that can be delivered via dams and canals, and received no federal and 20 percent of contracted state water in 2015.

This project conducted research, held conferences, and disseminated reliable and timely information on the labor and water challenges facing California agriculture. The research brought together data from several sources to establish a reliable baseline against which to assess the likely effects of immigration reforms. The slowdown in Mexico-US migration has generated 4-S responses among farmers: satisfy current workers to retain them longer in the farm work force, stretch the current work force with mechanical aids that increase productivity and make farm work easier, substitute machines for workers, and supplement the workforce with H-2A guest workers.

The project supported a major conference April 15, 2016 at the UCD Law School that attracted over 100 participants to discuss water, labor, immigration, and union activities. Dissemination included research articles, shorter papers in ARE Update, and Rural Migration News, which analyzes the most important farm labor and water issues facing California agriculture each quarter for over 1,000 subscribers.

Project Report/Summary of Results
Farmers often fear shortages of water and labor. Both have been in short supply in recent years due to drought and reduced Mexico-US migration. California agriculture may be at a crossroads on both issues, facing higher costs and more uncertainty about the availability of two critical inputs.

Despite the drought, farm sales have been rising. Farm sales were $47 billion in 2012, $51 billion in 2013, and $53 billion in 2014. Three factors shape the longer term outlook for water. First, most climate-change models expect warmer winters that are less suited to California’s water storage and transport system. Second is the hardening of the demand for water, as trees and vines that must be watered for 20 to 30 years replace annual crops on land that can be fallowed in dry years. Third is the possibility of water marketing to shift water around the state.

The average employment of hired workers in California agriculture rose 12 percent over the past decade, reaching 415,000 in 2014. Average employment is a measure of full-time equivalent jobs, not farm workers. Some 829,000 unique workers filled these jobs, a ratio of two workers per FTE job.

Farm employers face labor challenges, including paying the statewide $15 minimum wage by 2022. The federal minimum wage was $7.25 an hour in 2015, which was 42 percent of the $17.40 US median hourly wage of all US workers, while the California minimum wage of $9 was 47 percent of the state’s $19.15 median wage. Median wages vary within California, and the $15 an hour minimum wage in 2022 is projected to be 70 percent or more of the median wage in the San Joaquin Valley that includes half of the state’s farm workers.

The H-2A program has been expanding, quadrupling in California to over 10,000 jobs certified to be filled with guest workers in the past five years. If there is no DAPA or other immigration reforms, the farm labor stage could be set for a return to the 1950s, when some farmers built housing on their farms and others joined labor cooperatives that housed Bracero guest workers and moved them from one farm to another employed as needed.

Farm sales have risen despite drought and declining migration, demonstrating the adaptability of California agriculture.

2014-2015

Immigration Reform and Agricultural Competitiveness

Abstract

Specific Objectives of the Project
Over half of California’s farm workers are unauthorized, prompting proposals for a 3-pronged immigration reform package that includes:
• enforcement measures to discourage the entry and employment of unauthorized foreigners,
• legalization for the 11 million unauthorized foreigners in the US, and
• new guest worker programs.
Agriculture is treated differently from other industries in immigration reform proposals. Agriculture is subject to the same enforcement measures as other industries, but unauthorized farm workers would have a unique path to legal status and agriculture would have a unique guest worker program. This project used research, education, and dissemination to assess the implications of current immigration patterns for the state’s agricultural competitiveness and the potential impacts of reform proposals on farmers, farm workers and communities.

Project Report/Summary
Immigration Reform: Effects on California Agricultural Competitiveness, is a three-pronged research, conference, and newsletter effort to understand how current migration patterns and proposed reforms would affect agricultural competitiveness, farm workers, and communities. Major outcomes in 2014-15 included:
• Analysis of how current immigration patterns affect crop choices and the potential impacts of immigration reforms, such as a $1 to $2 an hour housing allowance for legal guest workers in AgJOBS that would be offset by a $1 to $2 an hour reduction in the special minimum wage for guest workers
• Conferences that brought researchers together with policy makers and advocates to discuss immigration’s impacts in particular commodities and communities and to enable researchers to learn about the status of policy options being discussed.
• Rural Migration News summarized and analyzed significant developments each quarter in farm labor, immigration, and agricultural communities (http://migration.ucdavis.edu/rmn). Rural Migration News, which has earned a reputation for accurate and reliable analysis, is read by 1,500 researchers and extension specialists, students, and policy makers and the media, and is often cited in academic journals.
In addition to dissemination via Rural Migration News, project-related papers were published in the AJAE, Choices, and ARE Update.

2013-2014

Immigration Reform and Agricultural Competitiveness

Abstract

Specific Objectives of the Project
Over half of California’s farm workers are unauthorized, prompting proposals for a 3-pronged immigration reform, viz, enforcement measures to discourage the entry and employment of unauthorized foreigners, legalization for most of the 11 million unauthorized foreigners in the US, and new guest worker programs. Agriculture is treated differently in immigration reform proposals. It is subject to the same enforcement measures, but unauthorized farm workers have a unique path to legal status and the farm guest worker program is different from other programs that admit foreigners to fill low-skill jobs. This project uses research, education, and dissemination to assess the implications of current immigration patterns for the state’s agricultural competitiveness and the potential impacts of reform proposals.

Project Report/Summary of Results
The Giannini Foundation supported a three-pronged research, conference, and newsletter effort. The three major outcomes included:

  • Analysis of how current immigration patterns affect production decisions (there have been few labor constraints to expanding production of strawberries and other very labor-intensive commodities) and the potential impacts of immigration reforms, such as a $1 to $2 an hour housing allowance for legal guest workers that would be offset by a $1 to $2 an hour reduction in the special minimum wage for guest workers
  • Conferences that brought researchers together with policy makers and advocates to discuss immigration’s impacts in particular commodities and communities and to enable researchers to learn about policy options being discussed.
  • Rural Migration News summarized and analyzed significant developments each quarter in farm labor, immigration, and agricultural communities. Rural Migration News, which has earned a reputation for accurate and reliable analysis, is read by 1,500 researchers and extension specialists, students, and policy makers and the media, and is often cited in academic journals.

In addition to dissemination via Rural Migration News, project-related papers were published in the AJAE, Choices, and ARE Update.

2012-2013

Immigration Reform and Agricultural Competitiveness

Abstract

Specific Objectives of the Project
Over half of California’s farm workers are unauthorized, prompting proposals for a 3-pronged immigration reform, viz,
• enforcement measures to discourage the entry and employment of unauthorized foreigners,
• legalization for most of the 11 million unauthorized foreigners in the US, and
• new guest worker programs.
Agriculture is treated differently in immigration reform proposals. It is subject to the same enforcement measures, but unauthorized farm workers would have a unique path to legal status and the farm guest worker program is different from other programs that admit foreigners to fill low-skill jobs. This project uses research, education, and dissemination to assess the implications of current immigration patterns for the state’s agricultural competitiveness and the potential impacts of reform proposals.

Project Report/Summary of Results
Immigration Reform: Effects on California Agricultural Competitiveness, is a three-pronged research, conference, and newsletter effort to understand how current migration patterns and proposed reforms would affect agricultural competitiveness, farm workers, and communities. Major outcomes included:
• Analysis of how current immigration patterns affect crop choices and the potential impacts of immigration reforms, such as a $1 to $2 an hour housing allowance for legal guest workers that would be offset by a $1 to $2 an hour reduction in the special minimum wage for guest workers
• Conferences that brought researchers together with policy makers and advocates to discuss immigration’s impacts in particular commodities and communities and to enable researchers to learn about policy options being discussed.
• Rural Migration News summarized and analyzed significant developments each quarter in farm labor, immigration, and agricultural communities (http://migration.ucdavis.edu/rmn). Rural Migration News, which has earned a reputation for accurate and reliable analysis, is read by 1,500 researchers and extension specialists, students, and policy makers and the media, and is often cited in academic journals.

2003-2004

Regulating Labor Relations in Agriculture: The ALRA and Mandatory Mediation

2002-2003

Poverty Amid Prosperity Revisited: Immigration and the Changing Face of Rural California

2001-2002

Immigration and Changing Face of Rural California: Findings in the 2000 Census

2000-2001

Immigration and the Changing Face of Rural California: Focus on Coastal California (2000) and the Imperial Valley (2001)

1999-2000

Immigration and the Changing Face of Rural California: Focus on the Sacramento Valley

1998-1999

Immigration and the Changing Face of Rural California: Focus on the Central Valley