The seeds of change: Could immigration policy affect your pocket - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

The seeds of change: Could immigration policy affect your pocketbook?

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OTHELLO, Wash. -

Could immigration policy have an effect on your pocketbook? Experts say yes, and that it could affect the agriculture industry in the U.S. too.

Mike Robinson is a farmer in Othello. He’s been in this business since 1977, so he's definitely seen the industry change, especially when it comes to finding workers.

“There's fewer and fewer workers every year,” he says.

Mike only hires H-2A workers, who are legal. Those workers have temporary visas to work on farms. But Mike’s case isn’t necessarily the case of other farms.

President Donald Trump's plan to deport all illegal immigrants will have an effect on the agriculture industry. According to a survey by the US Department of Labor, approximately 50 percent of farm workers are undocumented. So if all illegal immigrants are deported, that will mean even fewer workers, which will mean higher grocery bills for you.

Studies have shown that the price of milk could likely double, and that fruit prices would be the first to rise.

With this labor shortage too, more farmers are looking at the option of mechanization.

“Our goal is to end up at a place where we can end up with 10 full time guys year round operating machines,” Mike says.

He’s been doing a trial run so far because that kind of machinery hasn’t gone to market yet.

“The larger guys we can figure it out. We're figuring it out. That's how we make our living. We figure stuff out,” Mike says.

It’s all a part of doing business in this ever-changing landscape.

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