Much has been said about the moral implications of increased deportation of agricultural workers. What has been overlooked, however, is the economic impact of such a trend. The situation would be more complex and the implications would be broader than is apparent at first glance.
Let’s take a look at a nationwide labor shortage in the apple industry — both picking and processing. The first consequence is that the price of apples and apple-based products rises. Unfortunately, this will increase the prices of other types of produce as well. Apples are not the only choice if consumers want to buy fruit. If the price of apples rises, orange growers will suddenly find that the demand for their product has increased as customers purchase less apples. This results in the price of oranges (and bananas, pears, and so on) to increase. The agricultural industry can increase the price of other “competing” fruits and still sell as many, because they would still be cheaper relative to apples.
We need to realize that even an apparently small change in the labor supply would ripple out to affect other aspects of the economy, both predictable and unpredictable.
Nathaniel McCann, Richland