Here’s a fine kettle of apples you’ve gotten us into . . . cheapskate

Apples are an all-American success story-each ...

Apples are an all-American success story-each of us eats more than 19 pounds of them annually. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Noticed any increase in food prices yet?

Here in Texas, all meat prices are up, but especially beef.  Beef ranchers in Texas sold off their herds because they couldn’t feed them during the drought, except with very expensive imported hay.  That held prices down for a while, but now there is a lot less beef to be bought.  Prices rise.

Drought also hammered corn crops this year, and last year.  To keep corn markets growing, corn state legislators had gone whole hog into using corn for alcohol to be added to gasoline.  That demand didn’t drop with the crop decreases, however, and we’ve been hearing for months how corn-into-alcohol pressures food markets.

Lucio Machado picks Golden Delicious apples in a Washington orchard.

Lucio Machado picks Golden Delicious apples in a Washington orchard.

Drought hammers our fruit crops, too.  Comes now news from Washington state about the added wrinkle:  Washington’s apple crops bend the tree boughs — who will pick them?

Two key problems:  First, the crackdowns on immigrant workers reduced supply dramatically.  Second, citizens or documented workers find higher pay in the turnaround in construction.

Result:  Apples may stay in the trees, boosting apple prices to consumers.

Wholly apart from the foolish denial that we need to do something about global warming, the added policy flaws of shutting off immigration flow on the chuckle-headed and wrong assumption that immigration hurts the economy, and the continued denial of our too-modest economic recovery, will now cost you money directly at the supermarket.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

PASCO, Wash.—Washington state is enjoying the second-biggest apple crop in its history, but farmers warn they may have to leave up to one-quarter of their bounty to rot, because there aren’t enough pickers.

“I’m down 40% from the labor I need,” said Steve Nunley, manager of a 3,000-acre apple orchard for Pride Packing Co. in Wapato, Wash. Mr. Nunley said he has 200 pickers right now, but needs close to 400. He has increased pay to $24 for every 1,000-pound bin of Gala apples they pick, compared with $18 last year. Even so, he expects to have to let tons of fruit fall unpicked this season.

Washington’s bumper crop, forecast at 109 million boxes of Red Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith and other varieties, comes as drought and poor growing conditions have led to dismal harvests in parts of the U.S. Michigan lost much of its apple crop this year, and poor conditions have depressed the yields in New York state and North Carolina.


But Washington’s farmers can’t fully cash in on their good fortune. The national crackdown on illegal immigration has shrunk the pool of potential farm workers in the state, while at the same time, the modest economic rebound has given immigrants more opportunities than before in construction, landscaping and restaurants.

*   *   *   *   *

Not far away, outside a church in Pasco, a migrant from Mexico’s Michoacán state, 47-year-old José Carranza, said he planned to skip the fruit harvest this year. Mr. Carranza believes he can do better in construction work, which is picking up.

How bad is it, really?  Take a look at several other pieces on this issue, recently:

How much additional will you be paying for goods this year because of GOP “we-can’t-afford-to-be-great-anymore” policies, or racist immigration policies?  Will your modest tax cuts offset that expense?

Perhaps we should pay a bit more in federal money to help fix the real problems, and stop pretending that the price of everything is the same as the cost.

You know the aphorisms:  A conservative economist is a person who can tell you price of any item or service, but doesn’t know the value of education, parenting, or good social structure, and ignores the costs of doing nothing.

And the Tom Magliozzi Law (of the Car Guys):  The cheapskate always pays more.

Studies from the Federal Reserve indicates immigrants boost our economy greatly; making life tough for immigrants, or hoping they’ll “self-deport,” damages our economy.

How’s that applesauce?


7 Responses to Here’s a fine kettle of apples you’ve gotten us into . . . cheapskate

  1. […] Here’s a fine kettle of apples you’ve gotten us into . . . cheapskate […]


  2. […] The post in which the comments got me thinking about this song, about the farm disaster in apples in 2012 (oddly, a bumper crop in a few places cannot stave off higher prices and disaster elsewhere); see comments with two Woody Guthrie songs […]


  3. Ellie says:

    Ed, the Gina Rinehart who thinks people should be willing to work for $2 a day? She’d get along with today’s Teapublicans.


  4. JamesK says:

    hm, apparently Gina Rinehart owns apple orchards in the US.

    Would any conservative here like to explain why a business should be allowed to pay such pissante poor wages?


  5. Ed Darrell says:

    I thought that, too — it’s a tribute to the skills of these guys that they can make any money at all. You make the point Cesar Chavez kept trying to make, about grapes, and all other produce in the west.

    “Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?” Woody Guthrie sang. Helluva question. Same question in “Pastures of Plenty.”

    Arlo and Emmy Lou with “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos Canyon”

    Pete with “Pastures of Plenty”


  6. Pangolin says:

    This isn’t going to be popular but if the pay for picking 1,000 lbs of apples is only $24 then it’s no goddamn wonder that they can’t find pickers. I’m not going to shift 1,000 lbs of anything for $24 and that goes triple for having to do that in a field far from home.

    What is that per pound? A whole 2.4 cents? For apples that retail at $1.50/lb? They could double the pickers pay and it would be a whole 5 cents a pound picking costs. If you’re not seeing apples in the stores because we can’t pay pickers five cents a pound don’t blame the pickers. That’s only 3% of retail costs something most shopping carts loaded with chips and soda wouldn’t even notice.


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