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Lecture19_Responses+to+end+of+bracero+program_CORRECTED

Lecture19_Responses+to+end+of+bracero+program_CORRECTED -...

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RESPONSES TO THE END OF THE BRACERO ERA ARE 150 May 16, 2016
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Responses to the End of the Bracero Program 1. Mexican Workers Migrate Illegally Demand for farm workers remains high as labor-intensive fruit and vegetable production continues to expand. Rural Mexico: high birth rates, little education, few opportunities elastic supply of farm labor No legal method of migration Braceros built strong migration networks in the U.S. Illegal immigration to farm work was strong and growing during the Bracero Program, and it continued to grow after the Bracero Program.
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Responses to the End of the Bracero Program 2. Labor Associations Increased labor market efficiency Helped stabilize labor costs Increased average worker earnings Coastal Growers Association (Ventura) Number of lemon harvesters fell from 8,517 in 1965 to 1,292 in 1978 Hourly earnings rose from $1.77 to $5.63 Average annual earnings rose from $267 (151 hours) to $3,430 (609 hours)
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Responses to the End of the Bracero Program 3. Labor-saving Mechanization Tomato harvester Engineers worked with plant scientists The UC Davis Ag Engineering department developed a mechanical tomato harvester. But how do you mechanically harvest the tomato without crushing it? How do you mechanically harvest a crop that does not ripen all at once? The Vegetable Crops department bred a firmer-skinned tomato that ripened uniformly – Within 3 years CA’s acreage in mechanically harvested tomatoes rose from 3% to 90% • Saved an estimated 19,477,227 man hours / year by 1973 (Schmitz & Seckler, 1970)
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The Tomato Harvester
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Fears of Diminished Productivity Never Realized Prior to the mechanical harvester, tomato farmers were very worried about the loss of braceros “the use of braceros is absolutely essential to the survival of the tomato industry” (U.S. House Committee 1963, 60, cited from Martin, Fix, and Taylor (2006)) Without braceros “we could expect a 50 percent decrease in the production of tomatoes” (California, Ibid., 61, from Martin, Fix, and Taylor (2006)) As of 2006, about 5,000 local workers harvest 11 million tons of tomatoes by machine, 5 times that harvested during the bracero period.
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