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Farm Bill Could Slow Population Growth

October 11, 2002

Gov. Gray Davis' signing of the mandatory mediation bill gives farm workers a better shot at fair pay and working conditions (Oct. 3). Too, it may have another good but unforeseen consequence: a reduction of our population growth pressures. Growers have consistently opposed effective controls on their sources of cheap immigrant labor. If farm workers can improve their lot, it will make the work more attractive to our unemployed poor people, about whom we repeatedly hear that they won't take the tough field jobs. Some surely will want the work, if pay and conditions improve. Thus a start for them on an upward ladder and a move off the welfare rolls.

The corollary consequence may be that growers will see less need to push politicians to free up immigration. And, since immigration is about two-thirds of U.S. population growth, we could realize some of the many benefits of slower population growth. Politicians of both parties seem averse to talking about our overpopulation, despite polls showing that many people consider it one of our biggest problems. This new mediation legislation may be an indirect way of lessening the need to stick their political necks out.

Stanford Taylor

Pasadena

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