The Cider House Rules

The Washington State apple pick commenced end August on schedule after some hail damage fears. 60% of US apples come from Washington and growers are looking at a 109 million bushel crop. (43lbs/bushel) The crop is close to the record. Lower end fruit goes into sauce and juice so the timeliness of the pick is crucial to top dollar sales. Bad weather in Michigan (my fav for apples) and NY have increased the NW apple value. Here's the "core" issue: there's not enough people to pick. Immigration beef ups and border action on the "drug war" are seriously tightening labor hiring in the Northwest. The work is hard with ladder climbing and bushel harnesses strapped to chests. A good picker can make 1 thousand dollars a week. An orchard owner was quoted on NPR today saying most "whites" would not bother to fill out the forms. Wages are up and transportation and housing is negotiable. There's a line and demand for apples--the media is covering the wrong kind.

2 thoughts on “The Cider House Rules

  1. lwmaus

    I grew up (0-7) in the verdant orchards and blueberry farms of western Michigan near the dune line of the Lake; your piece has invoked memories of long ago. As a young lad in a 1 room country school some of my classmate’s parents were migrant itinerant farm hands. They followed the agri seasons as a family unit. They were typically from Oklahoma and Arkansas. They were white. These families had found through economic necessity (the 1930’s, 10-15 years previously) that working in the orchards was a way to make a living. I ask, why doesn’t this economic necessity make itself felt today ? Is it that the US safety net is just too inviting ? Is it that foreign farm labor is willing to work ‘for less’ ? Is it that agri owners are unwilling to pay more ? Is it that US consumers are unwilling to pay more for the produce ? IS it that Fed govt regulation has priced US citizen labor out of the agri fields ? These are socio-economic questions that most do not want to think or talk about. Are we at the time when maybe we should ?

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