March 28, 2019
An ASU Now story discusses the complicated matrix of farm labor, wages, costs and consumer prices when it comes to getting produce onto our plates. The growers who produce that produce have been sounding the alarm in recent years that the lack of farm labor is cutting into their livelihoods and leaving crops unharvested in the fields.
An Arizona State University professor has been examining the issue of farm labor and how immigration policy could affect how much we pay for vegetables. The research caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has given Senior Sustainability Scientist Timothy Richards, a professor in the W. P. Carey School of Business, a two-year grant to delve deeper. He will be working with colleagues at California Polytechnic State University and Cornell University.
In preliminary research, Richards created a theoretical model to examine farm labor, and showed that widespread removal of all undocumented farmworkers would result in skyrocketing wages that would squeeze growers and likely cause prices at the grocery store to spike.