MMT 18 Apr 61 pg 8
MEDFORD MAIL to of Sec- inten- CHIT CHAT By JOI COWLEY , Mall Tribune 'arm Editor '" The following Is a reprint of an editorial which appeared In the Santa Rosa, Calif., Press Democrat on April 3. Santa Rosa is a large pear growing area and the industry there enjoys "a more favorable press than here," a local pear grower informed us. GOODBYE BRACEROS "Some far-reaching far-reaching far-reaching chanees in the law under which Mex. lean nationals make up shortables in domestic farm labor ai prevailing wages were proposed Deiore a house agricul ture subcommittee recently by Jerry H. Holleman, assistant secretary oi laoor. "One proposal would have the federal labor department fix a celling on every individual American farmer of the number of Mexican nationals that farmer could employ, Mr. Holleman frankly said that the purpose was to reduce the number of Mexicans employed. How anybody in Wash ington could fix such quotas when the farmers themselves cannot know from day to day how many domestic workers win taice a notion to snow up was not explained. "A second proposed amendment to the law would give the secretary of labor power to require any farmer who used araceros to provide for domestic workers workermen s compensation . . . free transportation, free housing, sub sistence when work is not available, written contracts, and worK guarantees. "There were still further proposals, but these give the general idea. ' "Anyone who knows the slightest thing about farming will recognize these proposals as completely unworkable. In deed, they create the suspicion that they are intended to be workable, but instead are intended to be so severe and im practical that no American farmer would use Braceros. The people attempting to organize domestic migratory . farm workers into unions have openly announced their desire to keep Braceros off American farms. "SINCE IT is a cold and proven fact that there simply are not enough Americans who will do "stoop labor" to harvest the nation's row-crops, row-crops, row-crops, it might not hurt to do a little speculating as to what would happen if the braceros were outlawed, .either directly or by subterfuge. "If needed labor was not allowed to go where the farm work is, chances are that the farm work would simply go where the labor was available. "By that, we mean that it is not at all fantastic to con template the development in the lush lands of Mexico of tremendous - new agriculture, supplying to the American market the fresh fruits and vegetables which American farmers could no longer find the man-power man-power man-power to harvest. "Under the economics of agriculture what cannot be mar keted fresh is canned or frozen for later sale. Any large scale shift to Mexico of crops whose harvest cannot be mechanized would probably be followed by sizeable sections of the canning and freezing industries." (End of editorial): i This predicted shift of considerable vegetable and fruit growing to Mexico is not such a wild idea. Oregon State college reports that Mexico will have a larger strawberry acreage than Oregon this year. Increased competition is expected from that area, according to the OSC Food Processing Processing Review dated April 15. However, local farm experts say that Mexico does not have sufficient acreage of the kind which would produce a large scale pear industry. "Few issues so important can generate so much heat and often so little light, are so much misunderstood by the general public, as that of farm labor," a California reporter wrote recently. "It is not one issue but a group of them, involving wages, housing, transportation, work opportunities and union organization, to mention some." of in W. in and the tool and in tion All ica AAS well can they and and and To sum up-both up-both up-both labor and growers have been busy plan ning for 1061 since the first clash last year. The Agricul tural Workers Organizing Committee fought over the lettuce harvest in the Imperial valley the past few weeks. As paragus and apricots are next on the list. v This same California writer points out that "what the public thinks" is often the deciding factor as to whether and how farm labor should be organized. In California both labor and agriculture have been sizing up public opinion. California farmers are going all out to educate the public to their point of view. ' In this area only half-hearted half-hearted half-hearted attempts have been made to form a favorable public opinion. And these have been strictly from the defensive point of view. If anything was accomplished, it was quickly overcome by the actions of what we would call the "untouchables" of the local pear Industry. ' . 1 "Untouchables" because none of the industry's nice guys-and guys-and guys-and it has many-do many-do many-do anything about these people. Repeatedly we have heard the statement, "Oh, but he doesn't really speak for the pear Industry." . But "he" and the other "untouchables," "untouchables," sometimes talk before the state legislature, confer confer with the agricultural people at Oregon State college and are found in official positions and committees which represent represent the Industry. - So, we and the general public can only conclude that these few do speak for the entire Industry and they act and talk the way they do because the entire pear industry wants them to act and talk that way. No? Then why isn't something something done about It? . , These are some of the things which have caused some raised eyebrows from the general public and some profane language from various quarters: Pressure and friction caused by one group became so Intense that one official of an agricultural agricultural type agency became seriously ill, and still is. A popular state legislator was so angry over the complete lack of appreciation shown for favors done the pear industry it's doubtful if the pear people receive any others from this particular man. Also, a veteran of 30 years' service in one of the local packing houses was curtly dismissed the other day. We have been 'told not all of the packinghouse directors favored this kind of action. People who publicly oppose stream and air pollution are called "nuts" and "Idiots" by the "untouch ables." (With strict pollution regulations well on the way, this is bound to make a hit with the general public and be of tremendous help to the pear industry.) As we said, we have a lot of liking and respect for many, many people-most people-most people-most of them-in them-in them-in the ranks of fruitgrowers and packers. It's a tough business, a huge gamble all the. way and it takes guts and brains to stick with it and squeeze out a profit as each year brings more and more problems, But it's time the rank and file industry members showed some more of this courage and cleaned house.