A new report from Farm Credit East says that President Trump’s anti-immigrant policies are endangering New York’s family farms. Farm Credit East is a major financial services provider for the agricultural sector in the Northeast. Recent arrests by the Department of Homeland Security, including that of five apple pickers in a truck from upstate New York, are driving farm workers away from the state.
“If we don’t have the ability to have workers on our farms, farms can’t survive,” Farm Bureau spokesman Steve Ammerman told Crain’s Business last week. He said that farmers are “having such a difficult time” finding workers “because people are scared, they’re nervous to be out in the open seeking employment.” ICE raids in February and March had a paralyzing effect among Upstate and North Fork immigrant workers, leading many to stay home for fear of being arrested while seeking a job.
Skip Jensen of the Farm Bureau told the Daily Messenger, “Many workers now are scared to come to New York because of what’s going on with enforcement and border patrol agents, I really don’t know what will happen to American agriculture if we can’t get these workers to help milk the cows, pick the apples and work in the vegetable fields.”
There are nearly 1,100 farms in New York State that are at-risk because of the new administration’s anti-immigrant policies. According to Farm Credit East, if undocumented workers were pulled from the labor force, agricultural output in the state would fall by 24%. Farm production in New York would drop by $1.37 billion. Farm Credit East estimates that the ripple effect from this loss would be over $7 billion deducted from New York’s economy.