Fewer Sustainable Crops?
The agriculture department responded to the shortage of migrant farm workers by suggesting that the farmers mechanize their harvesting. This could create an undo burden on organic, and sustainable growing.
Imagine a farmer who has nourished and cared for a tomato crop through a whole season. They are now ripe and ready to pick. The machines are designed to pick the tomatoes green, if you use it on ripe tomatoes they will be crushed. Now he/she is unable to get enough workers to pick them. Some of the tomatoes will rot on the vine if there are not enough people to pick. Any loss is a critical loss, but coming at the end of a growing season the loss is at its highest cost.
Machines also need clear paths to harvest fruits or vegetables. This means the field must be set up for the machine, not for the plant. It also means the crop must grow straight. Plants must be genetically manipulated either by cross pollination, or gene splicing. Corn has long been genetically engineered with this in mind. A plant attempts to maximize surface area, therefor photosynthesis, by reaching for the sun and spreading out to where there is open land. Most specialty produce can not be engineered to fit this mold. Squash and melons will never achieve straightness.
Since many specialty crops can't be harvested by machines, a large burden of fewer of migrant workers falls on small, local sustainable farms. Large corporate farms, which produce mainstream crops will prosper, while small local diversified farmers will suffer the most.Tweet