May 29, 2023


Be Inspired By Food

Worker wages are not the cause of increased foodstuff rates

migrant workers pick strawberries
Migrant personnel select strawberries.

Following my very first 12 months at the Massive U, I returned to the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth for a summertime of get the job done. The initial process, on the other hand, was to inquire my father to double my hourly spend from 50 cents an hour, the amount of money I’d been paid by higher college, to $1 per hour.

“Well,” Father mentioned calmly, “a dollar an hour is a man’s wage and I really do not see a male standing in front of me.” Discussion more than.

Federal bare minimum wage that 12 months was $2 an hour but no “hired man” — or, evidently, “hired boy” — at any time obtained that wage from my father. I didn’t make the identical mistake the pursuing summer months. Just after a thirty day period property at, once again, 50 cents an hour, I returned to the college to get the job done at its dairy study farms for the great wage of $2.10 an hour.

And my father? He inspired it, because hired guys (and even employed sons) back then had been both of those abundant and low-priced. He also had the regulation on his side farmworkers had been exempt from federal wage needs.


Very little has improved due to the fact. According to a modern U.S. Division of Labor Countrywide Agricultural Staff Survey, the “average whole earnings of farmworkers is amongst $15,000 to $17,499 a calendar year for individuals and $20,000 to $24,999 for a household.”

That usually means, notes the Survey, that “… 25 % of all farmworkers experienced a relatives profits below the federal poverty line.”

This a lot less-than-a-dwelling wage fact for most farm and food employees details to yet another central truth in U.S. agriculture: employee wages are not the central ingredient of amplified food expenditures, in spite of Massive Ag’s constant whining that they are.


For case in point, in early June, the rapidly-everyday restaurant chain Chipotle introduced it was raising menu costs 4%, or about 35 cents for each buy, to fork out for the company’s boosting regular worker wages from $13 to $15 per hour. Two months previously, Chipotle acknowledged that its CEO, Brian Niccol, earned $38 million in 2020, or 31 instances his $1.2 million foundation wage.

Enterprise Insider did the math on Niccol’s pay out it “was 2,898 moments additional than the median Chipotle worker’s $13,127 salary in 2020 operating 25 several hours a week in Illinois.”

In addition, it proceeds, “A analyze from California State University San Bernardino identified that for a least wage increase of 10%, food stuff rates amplified by just .36%” — or, a portion of the value hike Chipotle instituted because of “higher employee wages.”

The enterprise is simply just pocketing the lion’s share of the value improve as earnings and blaming it on better employee pay out. Baloney.

Meat processing

If we’re chatting baloney, cue Huge Meat.

Once yet again meatpackers are bellowing about how they need to have less govt oversight and extra labor leeway to survive today’s pandemic-squeezed market place. In April, a federal choose told JBS United states of america, the world meatpacking big, that it should sluggish get rid of flooring line speeds at its Ottumwa, Iowa, hog killing plant back again to 1,106 hogs for every hour.

JBS had lately lifted line speeds under a U.S. Division of Agriculture Oct. 2019 rule transform. That rule, having said that, was contested in federal court docket.

Much more exceptional than the get to return get rid of speeds to just 1,106 hogs for every hour is how a lot of federal politicians, led by Iowa’s Sen. Charles Grassley, rallied to restore unrestricted eliminate speeds simply because, as documented by DTN, Grassely claimed “slower line speeds could lead to a $23 for each head decline in hog prices.”

Even if real — Grassely cited an Iowa State University supply for the quantity — not even a nickel of the revenue would move to most hog farmers, since about 85% of all U.S. hogs are lifted beneath contract for meatpackers.

As these kinds of most, if not all, of any further gain made as a result of faster, much more harmful eliminate speeds would circulation to the packers, not the hog farmers or plant workers. But that is the way it is been considering the fact that, effectively, way too long.

Continue to be Knowledgeable. Indication UP!

Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!