Monday, July 23, 2007

Mechanical grape picker could remove vineyards from immigration debate

Vineyard owners may soon be able to ignore the immigration debates going on throughout the nation. They may be spending their time talking about horsepower, hydraulics and transmissions.

The New Holland Braud grape harvester can do the work of 40 handpickers in a fraction of the time. The quarter-million dollar high-tech machine -- which uses "shaker rod" technology to coax grapes off the vine into molded silicon rubber collection baskets -- may herald a future of all-mechanized agriculture.

The harvester is a powerful and controversial symbol as the nation struggles with the economic realities of immigration. Public pressure has forced a border crackdown and increased enforcement, while farmers nationwide face labor shortages as high as 30 percent to 50 percent during harvest. Further complicating matters, large numbers of former migrant laborers have switched to construction jobs for the higher pay and year-round stability.

Vineyard owners are ready to consider mechanized harvesting. Their concerns were heightened after the recent failure of U.S. Senate immigration bill that would have offered legal status for up to 900,000 undocumented agricultural workers failed. In the Northwest, the European machine was touted as a beacon of a future without illegal labor.

1 comment:

  1. Great !!!!! I hope they make a machine to pick every damn crop that there is. What excuse will bush have then?


Please be civil. Thank you.