The New York State Agricultural Immigration and Human Resource Management Issues Study
Maloney, Thomas R.; Bills, Nelson L.
The purpose of this study is to gather information from farm operators regarding agricultural workforce issues in New York agriculture. In the fall of 2007 the USDANASS New York field office agreed to add one page of agricultural labor related questions to its annual surveys of the New York fruit, vegetable, dairy and livestock industries. The 1,245 survey responses provide new insights in four key topic areas: the number of farm workers in New York agriculture, attitudes toward labor supply issues, attitudes toward immigration reform and attitudes regarding human resource management practices. The survey procedures allowed estimates of the number of workers on farms primarily involved with fruit, vegetable, dairy or livestock production. The total agricultural workforce for fruit, vegetable and dairies in New York, including part-time, full-time, family and non-family workers totaled 46,800. In addition it was estimated that the number of contract workers hired on New York fruit, vegetable and dairy farms was 6,700. Farm managers were asked how concerned they were that there may not be sufficient workers to employ in their business over the next three years. Survey respondents expressed considerable concern with more than 60% of the farmers who employed Hispanic workers indicating that they were very concerned about attracting sufficient workers over the next three years. Survey participants were also asked how important national immigration reform, a path to citizenship and a guest worker program were to their business. Importance was rated on a five point scale with 1 being not important and 5 being very important. Farm operators with Hispanic workers rated national immigration reform a 4.43 in importance. They rated a path to citizenship a 3.34 in importance and a guest worker program a 4.29 in importance. So while all three issues were important to farm managers a path to citizenship was reported to be less important than national immigration reform or a guest worker program. Respondents were also asked how important they felt five human resource practices were. Again a 5 point scale was used. Respondents placed a higher importance on competitive wages and benefits (3.87), safe comfortable working conditions (4.34) and opportunities for advancement (3.23). They felt that off-site training opportunities and continuing training and development were of slightly less importance. The survey provides new information about attitudes and concerns of farm employers at a time when labor supply and immigration reform issues are very important to the future of their businesses. These results allow leaders in NY agriculture to more accurately describe current conditions surrounding agricultural labor in the state. The survey also provides a starting point for additional research on immigration and labor supply issues.
Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University