Friday, September 07, 2007

Farmer John's Robot

Not quite Robbie the Robot but automation to replace migrant workers.

With authorities promising tighter borders, some farmers who rely on immigrant labor are eyeing an emerging generation of fruit-picking robots and high-tech tractors to do everything from pluck premium wine grapes to clean and core lettuce.

Such machines, now in various stages of development, could become essential for harvesting delicate fruits and vegetables that are still picked by hand.

"If we want to maintain our current agriculture here in California, that's where mechanization comes in," said Jack King, national affairs manager for the California Farm Bureau.

More than half of all farm workers in the country are illegal immigrants, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics.

As I wrote in Gothic Capitalism; "the term Robot first appears in the Czechoslovakian science fiction novel/play; R U R (1920) aka Rossum's Universal Robots by Karl Capek. Robot is shortened form of the Russian word for worker, robotnichki, it also refers to work or drudgery."

Like that done by migrant workers.

Because of the immigration issue, migrant workers are becoming a difficult entity to find," Maconachy said. "If growers have a crop that needs to be harvested and there aren't the people to do it, they'll need to find a mechanized way to do it."

Philip Martin, an agricultural economist at the University of California, Davis, said it was still unclear if heightened immigration enforcement would drive away enough workers to justify huge expenditures by growers on new machinery.

And the number of variables involved makes it difficult to determine how much, if anything, growers could save by switching to automated systems.

Regardless of mechanization, there will always be the need for workers. Mechanization of farming was the origin of capitalism, transforming self sufficient peasant's into wage slaves in the growing industrial metropol's.
“If the whole class of the wage-laborer were to be annihilated by machinery, how terrible that would be for capital, which, without wage-labor, ceases to be capital."

Karl Marx


Thanks Lou and Tom

Farmer John Exploits Mexican Workers

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