Category Archives: Uncategorized

All I’ve Met

Alfred, Lord Tennyson said: “I am a part of all that I have met.”

Like Tennyson, I feel like I’m a part of all that I’ve met. These are a few of their stories. And a few of mine, too. Enjoy.

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The Salad Bowl of America: Are Immigrants Vital to American Agriculture?

Note: this is a speech my daughter wrote for FFA Public Speaking Contest where she advanced to state and placed 6th.

The Salad Bowl of America: Are Immigrants Vital to American Agriculture?

Hannah Wood

Carrollton ACC FFA

6 March 2017

“Creo en el futuro de la agricultura, con una fe que no nace de las palabras sino de los hechos.” In English, that translates as,“I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds” (FFA Creed). I’m Hannah Wood, representing the Carrollton ACC FFA Chapter, and I have grown up in a home where I hear both Spanish and English. My dad is a Spanish teacher who has helped me better understand the lives and cultures of people with different ethnic backgrounds as well as how immigrants have shaped our country. I’m realizing how those immigrants are intertwined with American agriculture and that immigration will affect the future of agriculture.

The United States’ agricultural system is one of the leading producers and suppliers in the world. The United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service reports that, of the 1 million hired farm workers, 42 percent are foreign born, meaning nearly 500,000 immigrants are working on farms today (Successful Farming).

There is a fear that using immigrant labor takes away jobs and income from American-born workers. Stephen Devadoss and Jeff Luckstead, writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, found that in California, where 95 percent of farmworkers are immigrants, this fear is not valid. They found that wage reduction was inconsequential, and that it would take over 80 new immigrant farmworkers to displace one American-born farmworker. However, one immigrant farmworker increases vegetable production, for example, by over $23,000 and strengthens the productivity of skilled workers by nearly $12,000 (Devadoss).

The Wall Street Journal reported about 20 percent of agricultural products were not harvested nationwide in 2006, and the losses in 2007 were estimated to be even higher, because there were not enough farm workers to harvest the food (Devadoss). Last year, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall cautioned a food crisis could occur due to labor shortages in at least 20 states where crops would rot in fields if something didn’t change. That is food wasted that could be feeding the hungry in this country and around the world (Barth).

By the year 2050, the United States will have an estimated 438 million people and the world will have an estimated 9 billion people. How will we feed those people if there are not enough laborers to harvest the food?

Juan Castro, a migrant farm laborer on a tomato farm in Alabama, only makes what he can pick. His day begins at 7 a.m. and goes until 6 p.m., earning $2 for each 25-pound basket he fills. That amounts to about $60 for the day, under the heat of the sun and the dirt of the field, with a chronic pinched nerve in his neck from bending over for hours, and little time for breaks. He said, “the only reason that we can stand it is for our children” (Dwoskin).

Milan Kordestani, CEO and Founder of Milan Farms, said: “As the demand for food products grows along with the population, farmers will increasingly struggle to keep up with demand, leading to the United States developing a reliance on foreign countries to produce our food” (Kordestani).

Solutions have been proposed to help with this problem including the Agricultural Worker Immigration Program. This bill has two components: a new Blue Card program offering a path to citizenship for current undocumented farm workers and the creation of two new Agricultural Visa programs to ensure an adequate, future agricultural workforce (Feinstein).

“Almost all the ideas lead back to one answer,” Kordestani said, “which is that we need to allow immigrants to come into this country to work the jobs American citizens don’t want” (Kordestani).

“I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life” (FFACreed). This country was founded by immigrants and have been a part of the best traditions in our history. As Kordestani said, “Instead of trying to find a way without immigrants, why don’t we find a way to keep them and continue to allow them to be a part of the American story of agriculture?”

I do believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds — the work and accomplishments of both American born and immigrant farmworkers. Our future depends on it.

 

Bibliography

Barth, Brian. “The High Cost of Cheap Labor.” Modern Farmer. N.p., 23 Feb. 2017. Web. 07 Mar.

Devadoss, Stephen, and Jeff Luckstead. “Contributions of Immigrant Farmworkers to California

Vegetable Production.” Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics. Southern

Agricultural Economics Association, 2008. Web. 21 Mar. 2017.

Dwoskin, Elizabeth. “Why Americans Won’t Do Dirty Jobs.” Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg, 09 Nov.

  1. Web. 07 Mar. 2017.

“Farm Workers & Immigration.” National Farm Worker Ministry. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb.

2017.

“Feinstein Statement on Immigration Reform.” United States Senator for California. N.p., n.d.

Web. 05 Mar. 2017.

“FFA Creed.” FFA Creed | National FFA Organization. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2017.

“How a ‘Day Without Immigrants’ Affects the Agriculture Community.” Successful Farming.

N.p., 17 Feb. 2017. Web. 26 Feb. 2017.

“How Inaction on Immigration Impacts the Agricultural Economy.” Immigration Impact. N.p.,

01 Apr. 2015. Web. 26 Feb. 2017.

Kordestani, Milan. “From Farm To Table: The Lives Of The Immigrants Who Grow Your Food.”

The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 20 Dec. 2016. Web. 26 Feb. 2017.

Matthews, Dylan. “North Carolina needed 6,500 farm workers. Only 7 Americans stuck it out.”

The Washington Post. WP Company, 15 May 2013. Web. 07 Mar. 2017.

 


Hannah Alaska, meaning grace and beauty

The door creaks open, but I don’t move and I don’t open my eyes. I hear her tiny footsteps skating across the old hardwood floor. I feel her warm breath on my neck and smell a hint of Bounce dryer sheets on her pajamas and shampoo from last night’s bath. She reaches out her finger, gently touching my cheek and sliding it down my face, repeating the motion a second and a third time. I squint through the darkness to see the bright blue numbers. 4:12 am. “Mommy. Hungry. Get up.” I pause to enjoy the early morning moment. I roll over, pull the covers up over me and smile, out of her view. She leans in and I whisper, “it’s still nighttime, go back to bed.” She touches my face again with her tiny little three-year-old fingers, trying for a response, but I ignore her. In defeat, she changes tactics, maneuvering herself into our bed. One leg up. Then the other. She tugs at the sheet and pulls herself up next to us, squirms a bit and then snuggles in beside me. “Love you mommy,” she says. I roll back over toward her, stare into her big, dark eyes and smile, knowing I won’t be going back to sleep. “I love you, too, Hannah.”

I came across this today while I was looking for something else. I think I wrote it in 2003 for a poetry class.

And now, 11 years later… pretty grown up and beautiful 🙂

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‘We need white people to be as outraged about racism as people of color are.’

A blog post of mine from January 2009…

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Today we celebrate the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and with the inauguration of the first black US President tomorrow, I’ve been thinking a lot of how far we have come…and how far we still have to go.
I love the words of Dr. King and his passion for what he knew to be true.  One of my favorite quotes from his is “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

I just recently came across an article from a few years ago by Patricia Digh, right after the death of Rosa Parks.  She was talking about an email she had received, saying that what we needed was another Rosa Parks or another Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Her response to the email was that what we actually need are “more white people who are willing to be civil rights heroes.  We need white people to be as outraged about racism as people of color are.  We need white people to realize that racism is not a black issue–it’s a white issue.  We need white people to refuse to participate in a system that privileges them over fellow human beings.  We need white people to actively, visibly, and publicly examine their own role in perpetuating racism in subtle and unconscious ways, acknowledge their own part in the problem, verbalize the unearned privileges that accrue to them simply because of their skin color, and demand those same privileges for people of color.
“Fighting racism isn’t only the job of people like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.  The next generation of civil rights activists in this nation must be white people who realize that winning this fight will be the result of individual, daily actions on their part, not grand pronouncements and history month celebrations.
“As long as we wait for national heroes to emerge, nothing will change…..Unless we wake up every morning determined to eliminate racism even when that work is difficult, nothing will change.
“The police officer who fingerprinted Rosa Parks after that fateful bus ride…..(was) asked to comment on Parks’ death….(he) simply said that he had no problem with black people and that he was just doing his job.  As long as we ‘just do our jobs,’ racism will prevail.”
Dr. King’s, “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered on Aug. 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.  Here is a portion of that speech, which I feel is appropriate still today:
“And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; ‘and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.'”
My kids had school today, as a snow make-up day, which really gets me going.  Either have school on the holiday, or don’t.  But, trying to be an optimist, I hoped that the school and teachers could use at least a small portion of their day to discuss Dr. King or Rosa Parks or anything at all about the Civil Rights Movement.  But when they got home from school and I asked, they both said no. UGH!!!  I was happy that I had the foresight to read to them my favorite book this morning, one I highly recommend to anyone with children.  It’s called “Freedom on the Menu” and it’s the true story of the Greensboro Sit-ins, told from a little girl’s perspective.  We had the opportunity to visit the Woolworth’s in Greensboro when we were in North Carolina a few years ago, after we had first read the book.  Check it out.
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So… let us remember, like Patricia Digh said, “Rosa Parks is dead. The next generation of civil rights heroes must be white people.”
Let’s no longer be silent about the things that really matter.