Farmers: Immigration orders may limit crop workers

- Florida farmers say it's already difficult to find enough workers to harvest their crops. They are wondering if President Trump's new immigration orders are going to make their job even harder.

"The impact of the immigration rules is something we don't quite know yet, but it's a topic that's important to us," said Tiffany Dale of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association.

Dale says, in recent years, the pool of workers has been decreasing substantially. She says the children of farm workers -- primarily from Mexico, Honduras and other Central American countries -- are less likely to follow in their parents' footsteps.

She admits that working conditions in the fields are not easy. Many pickers work up to 12 hours a day, stooped over in the hot Florida sun.

"We go to the beach and feel that hot sun, so working in it day after day also takes its toll," she said.

Dale says many young people leave farm work in search of a more middle-class lifestyle. More are going to college or getting jobs in easier, better paying industries, like construction or restaurants.

Paul DiMare of DiMare Fresh, a tomato grower in Ruskin, advertises locally. He says he offers potential employees $150 a day to work in the fields. But he has few, if any, takers.

"The [North] Americans aren't working in the fields, I can tell you that," DiMare said.

That means most farm labor jobs are left to already-scarce immigrants, who may soon get even harder to find.

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