There has been some dispute over whether the labor shortages California farmers reported over the last few years are real. It turns out they are very real, but that doesn’t quiet the skeptics.
“We are told that unless we allow criminals, illegal aliens, freedom to take American jobs, our agriculture will be destroyed,” wrote the conservative blogger Steve Frank, a former president of the California Republican Assembly, last year. “Like most other statements of the lamestream media, that is a downright lie.”
He used the fact that this state’s farm profits were up in 2011 — from $11.1 billion the previous year to $16.1 billion — to call the reported shortage “phony.” Those profit numbers came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
But the USDA also reports on crop production, and some of those numbers tell a different story, while also implying that the added profits may have been a result of smaller supplies...