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Farm Labor Markets in the United States and Mexico Pose Challenges for U.S. Agriculture

Author

Listed:
  • Zahniser, Steven
  • Taylor, J. Edward
  • Hertz, Thomas
  • Charlton, Diane

Abstract

The U.S. farm labor market shows many signs of tightening, including producer reports of labor shortages, increases in farm wages, more employment of guest workers through the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Program, and a shrinking supply of farm labor from rural Mexico—the source of most foreign-born farm workers in the United States. Mexico’s farm labor market has also faced labor constraints over the past several decades. Although Mexican agricultural output continues to grow, rural Mexicans are less likely to work as farm workers either in Mexico or in the United States, as the Mexican economy transitions toward more focus on the service sector. This report reviews evidence showing that rising educational levels and increased nonfarm employment in Mexico are among the leading drivers of farm labor supply changes in that country. Several options by which U.S. agricultural employers could respond to a tighter labor market are explored, including raising wages, further mechanization, greater employment of guest workers, and switching to less labor-intensive crops.

Suggested Citation

  • Zahniser, Steven & Taylor, J. Edward & Hertz, Thomas & Charlton, Diane, 2018. "Farm Labor Markets in the United States and Mexico Pose Challenges for U.S. Agriculture," Economic Information Bulletin 281161, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:uersib:281161
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.281161
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    File URL: https://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/281161/files/EIB201.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Rutledge, Zach, 2020. "No Farm Workers, No Food? Evidence from Specialty Crop Production," 2020 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, Kansas City, Missouri 304249, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

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    Keywords

    Agricultural and Food Policy;

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