The Senate Appropriations committee has approved a free-riding Feinstein Ag-Jobs amendment to an upcoming Iraq spending bill. According to NumbersUSA, it will grant legal status to as many as 1.35 million migrants and their families for at least the next five years, when the provisions sunset.
Feinstein asserts that without the amendment, food will rot in the fields and farmwork will move to Mexico. But if you haven't noticed, food prices keep shooting upward. Food shortages have resulted in riots in several poor countries, because it's becoming more expensive to eat. As the USDA reports, it's a good time to be involved in agriculture:
Net farm income is forecast to be $92.3 billion, up 4.1 percent above the $88.7 billion farmers are projected to have earned in 2007 and 51 percent above its 10-year average of $61.1 billion.An end to all illegal farm labor would, by the pro-legalization Utah Farm Federation Bureau's own estimates, result in a net loss of $5 billion (as of '06) for US farmers. So the industry would see its profits reduced by less than 10%.
Net cash income, at $96.6 billion, is forecast to be $9 billion (10 percent) above 2007, which was the previous record. Net cash income is projected to rise more than net farm income because of the large carryover of crops harvested in the prior year, which will be sold in 2008.
The story in 2008 is the value of crop production ($175.5 billion), which is forecast to exceed the 2007 record by $25.9 billion (a 17-percent increase). Prices of major crops (corn, soybeans, wheat) were trending upward in late 2007 and are expected to maintain or add to those gains in early 2008.
As CATO's Daniel Griswold points out, the industry receives nearly four times the amount of that profit loss each year in the form of government subsidies:
During the past twenty years, farm programs have cost America's non-farm households a cumulative $1.7 trillion. That is how much non-farm households would have in the bank today if they had been allowed to save and invest what they have been forced to surrender to favored farmers through our never-ending farm programs. ...That the agricultural industry receives double-subsidization while still coming out nearly $100 billion in the black reveal Feinstein's warnings to be tripe. But I'd much rather increase federal subsidies another $10 billion through guaranteed purchase agreements and even direct cash transfers than grant legalization to millions of migrant farmworkers.
Farm support programs cost taxpayers nearly $20 billion a year, real money even in Washington. ...
Average household income for family farms is now 10 percent [how fitting!] above the average income for non-farm households.
The costs of unfettered immigration of Hispanic menials far exceeds an accounting cost of $5-$10 billion for US farm interests. In addition to at least half of illegal immigrant households costing the net taxpayer an average of over $22,000 a year in benefits beyond the tax contributions they make, these costs include depressed academic achievement and lowered average IQ, a decrease in housing affordability, increased infrastructure usage and pollution, atavistic diseases returning to the US after decades of absence, an increasing percentage of the population lacking health insurance, etc.
The Senate could potentially vote on the bill, which has now cleared committee, as early as today. If not today, then sometime early next week. Contact your Senators and let them know how you feel about granting amnesty to illegal farmworkers. Information for doing so is available here. NumbersUSA has some useful talking points that can be used equally well if you decide to call, write, fax, or email. You might also mention disgust at the furtive way Feinstein is going about pushing this on us, attaching it to a war spending bill.