This week I appeared on KATU’s “Your Voice, Your Vote” to discuss increasing Oregon’s minimum wage. The opposition included me along with economist Dr. Eric Fruits. The proponents of raising of Oregon’s minimum wage were Senator Diane Rosenbaum and 15 Now Oregon’s Justin Norton-Kerston.
The proponents of a minimum wage never refute me on the fact that raising the minimum wage will hurt Rural Oregon.
Senator Rosenbaum claims raising minimum wage has never negatively affected Oregonians before. Yet on Monday we heard farmers testified they had quit growing certain crops because of high labor costs. On our own farm we have gone from seven windrowers/swathers and four combines to three.
One in eight jobs are tied to Oregon agriculture. How will increases the wage floor impact this? More importantly, Oregon Agriculture is expected add 8,200 jobs by 2020…growing faster than Oregon’s economy as a whole. However was a 62% increase in the wage floor a factor when this prediction was made?
Currently, we hire people who can be as young as 14 years old. We file the proper paperwork & get the permits required so we can hire local students ages 14-17 years old, who are paid minimum wage and higher. Contrary to “talking points” this is not child labor. If minimum wage was to raise to $15/hour, the risk of hiring these inexperienced “kids” would outweigh the benefits. Ultimately, harming Oregon’s future workforce.
Alternatively, we can go through the H2A Visa program and hire experienced workers. Typically these employees would be from the Southern Hemisphere and work harvest year around. They have experience driving equipment similar to our farm’s. This would save us time & cost of investment in training.
It’s hard to understand what we do on the farm. The fact is, we know our costs, we know our risks & are always skeptical if it will all pay off. It is a constant gamble and a supposed educated guess, hence the skepticism.
However, I will try to help anyone understand the best way possible how farming works. We have nothing to “hide” on the farm, it just can be super complicated if you do not live it day-to-day.
Information I found interesting
- Oregon’s Agriculture Sector
- A picture of poverty in Oregon
- Breaking down who earns the minimum wage
- Minimum-Wage Jobs Less Common in Metro Areas
- At Least Six Percent of Oregon Jobs Affected by Minimum Wage