Keith Eckel, the largest producer of fresh market tomatoes in Pennsylvania, announced he's quit the business, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Eckel, who has been in the business for decades, made the announcement at his farm near Scranton, and he made it clear why he could no longer compete: because Congress has failed to enact a meaningful immigration reform measure.
"The system is broken," Eckel said at his announcement.
The article said that farmers across the country, who are reliant are foreign farm workers, would agree with that statement. Eckel said that farmers can no longer count on a sufficient work force due to the government's increased vigilance on illegal immigration and the lack of action on an immigration reform bill.
Last year, Eckel employed 180 people, but this spring, when he plants crops that can be handled by machines, he will employ five. He estimated that his crop supplied about 75 percent of the fresh tomatoes in produce aisles between Boston and Washington.
"No one will harvest tomatoes in 90 degree weather except immigrant labor," he said.
What will replace those tomatoes? Corn, of course. This year Eckel is planting about 45 acres of sweet corn, and 1,200 acres of corn for grain.
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