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Monday, August 20, 2007

Oregon News: Farmer says crackdown could kill agriculture

By Alex Paul
Albany Democrat-Herald

A new federal crackdown that threatens employers with $10,000 fines and jail time for hiring illegal immigrants could destroy agriculture, Scott Frost believes.

Since 1996, Frost has owned Nature’s Fountain, a 27-acre organic farm on Higbee Road north of Albany. His numerous crops include blueberries, beans, squash and peppers. The bulk of his produce is sold to restaurants and stores in the Portland area.

As varied as those crops are, they all share a common trait: It takes lots of hand labor to tend and harvest them.

The majority of that labor, Frost said, arrives here each spring from Mexico. Over the years, Frost has hired domestic workers but without success.

Frost has hired as many as 25 employees during the busy six-week blueberry harvest season, but says that today it’s hard to find that many workers at one time.

“Are we going to blindly pull the plug without knowing the consequences of our actions?,” he asks, referring to the federal crackdown announced Aug. 10. “There are several industries that rely on people of color, including construction, service, hotels, but agriculture is especially dependent.” >>read full article


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