Letters to the Editor

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JOBS: We should be doing our own labor

Letter by Richard Samyn, Tacoma on Oct. 17, 2011 at 10:28 am | 1 Comment »
October 17, 2011 11:23 am

Re: “Heat on immigrants makes harvest tough” (TNT, 10-15).

I’m supportive progressive immigration reform and small and mid-sized farm operations, particularly those that use sustainable practices. Important elements of a strong nation are caring for the vulnerable, sustaining a manufacturing base and growing its own food. Citizens of a great nation must take ownership of these elements.

To read that at a time of high unemployment we have a shortage of farm workers is totally mind-boggling. Some may think I’m unsympathetic and unrealistic. I’m not. If farm work is good enough for immigrants to make up to $150 a day to support their families, why is that not attractive to native-born unemployed citizens?

As a nation we have grown to expect someone else to do the hard work and remain invisible. I don’t advocate slave labor, piecemeal wages for workers so we can have cheap food. We have to look at the business of agriculture and find a solution.

Most small and medium-size farms have a thin profit margin, and a couple of bad growing years can force them then to sell out, most often to developers. We have to take ownership of the issues that face us and do the work in our fields, in our manufacturing sectors and in our communities. We can’t afford not to.

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