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News stories tagged with "hispanic"

Ag's shifting agenda in New York

Agriculture is one of New York's biggest industries, generating more than $3 billion annually. Once a reliable mix of dairy, orchards, and row crops, farming in New York is changing fast, with new opportunities and challenges. The state is building a wholesale market in New York City to connect downstate consumers with Upstate farms. A new office of organic produce is trying to help farmers' meet the growing demand for healthy, locally-grown food. And New York is investing in biofuel research. Meanwhile, farmers have been thrust into the middle of the illegal immigration debate, fearing raids on their increasingly Hispanic workforce. A plan to ban open burning statewide would force farmers to find new ways to throw out their bale wraps and other plastics. David Sommerstein sat down recently with Agriculture Commissioner Pat Hooker to look at the farm agenda for 2008. Hooker came to state government last year after more than a decade representing the industry as the New York Farm Bureau's policy director. He says he's very excited about the promise of alternative energies and biofuels for farmers...  Go to full article

State to count Hispanic farmworkers

The state agriculture department is trying to figure out how many Hispanic immigrants work on New York farms. The agency wants to persuade the federal government to act on immigration issues. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article
Lowville veterinarian Mark Thomas at the school in Malacapetec.
Lowville veterinarian Mark Thomas at the school in Malacapetec.

Farm to Farm, Family to Family, part 3: the view from Lewis County

This week, we've been hearing the stories of a group of New York dairy farmers. In January, they traveled to a tiny mountain town in Mexico, where many of their milkers and farmhands come from. They wanted to better understand why their employees come thousands of miles to New York for work, and what that means for the immigration debate. Yesterday, we heard young Mexican men saying they wanted to work in the United States to make money. But eventually, they planned to return to their homes in Mexico. Immigration statistics tell a different story - the longer immigrants live in the United States, the more they want to stay here. In part three of a three part series, David Sommerstein looks at how Hispanic immigrants are affecting rural communities in New York and what the future may hold.  Go to full article
Above: Older houses in Malacatepec, below: new house built with wages earned on North Country dairy farms
Above: Older houses in Malacatepec, below: new house built with wages earned on North Country dairy farms

Farm to Farm, Family to Family, pt. 2: the cycle of migration

As Congress continues to craft ways to control immigration into the United States, the reality is that the allure of good paying jobs and a chance to improve one's conditions back home is hard to resist. In January, David Sommerstein traveled to Mexico with a group of New York dairy farmers. They went to a mountain town called Malacatepec, where names like Lowville, Carthage, and Utica are as familiar as they are here. Young men migrate South to North, leaving families behind, so they may one day come home to stay. In part two of a three-part series, David looks at their cycle of migration. One note: the dairy farmers in this series are identified by first name only to protect their farms and the Mexican immigrants who work there.  Go to full article
How many kids in the school have family working in the US?
How many kids in the school have family working in the US?

Farm to Farm, Family to Family, part 1: North Country farmers go to Mexico

In January, David Sommerstein traveled with a group of New York dairy farmers on a sort of reverse migration. They went to a tiny mountain town in Veracruz, Mexico, called Malacatepec. There, almost everyone has a family member who has worked or is working on a New York State dairy farm. The farmers wanted to better understand their new employees culture, economic situation, and what it all means for the immigration debate in this country. Here part one of a three part series. One note: the dairy farmers in this series are identified only by their first names to protect their farms and the Mexican immigrants who work there.  Go to full article

New Yorkers' views on immigration

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates between 550,000 and 650,000 illegal immigrants live in New York State. Most live in New York City and its suburbs. But a growing number work in agriculture or construction in Upstate New York, including on the North Country's dairy farms. Immigrants have become a part of daily life in largely white, rural communities. Max Pfeffer tracks what New Yorkers think about immigration, both legal and illegal. He's a professor of development sociology at Cornell University. For the last several years, Pfeffer's conducted polls asking whether there should be more or less immigration to the United States. He told David Sommerstein the results are much like the rest of the country: people are split.  Go to full article

Dairy left out of immigration deal?

As the fierce debate on a massive immigration bill continues in Washington, dairy farmers fear they may be left out. New York's dairy farms have become increasingly reliant on Mexican and Central American workers. Many, if not most, of them are in this country illegally. A temporary worker program, known as H2A, would allow immigrants to work on farms for two years at a time, for up to six years. But it still remains to be seen whether dairy farmers would be allowed to use the program. Julie Suarez directs public policy for the New York Farm Bureau. She told David Sommerstein dairy was included in one version, but left out of another.  Go to full article

Report: immigrants moving to rural America

The story of immigrants flooding America's cities is almost as old as the United States itself. But a new report shows a shifting trend. While cities remain the main destination, a growing number of immigrants are settling in small, rural communities. They're drawn to jobs in agriculture, meatpacking, and the tourism and resort industries. Leif Jensen wrote the report for the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. He told David Sommerstein that immigrants to small towns tend to poorer and less well educated than those who settle in cities. They also tend to be Mexican, married, and employed.  Go to full article

Mexican corridos: the people's autobiography in song

A St. Lawrence University professor specializes in a genre of Mexican music that tells the stories of how migrant workers get to the United States. Martha Chew-Sanchez is the author of a book called Corridos in Migrant Memory. She's invited a Mexican band, Los Inalcanzables to perform "corridos" tonight at 7 at SLU's Student Center. "Corridos" are epic songs that were first sung when the Spanish arrived in the New World. They're like the collective autobiography of Mexico, telling stories about everything from farming and famous heroes to drug smuggling and crossing the border. New ones are always written to reflect contemporary lives. Chew-Sanchez told David Sommerstein she grew up in the border region of El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico, where "corridos" told the stories of the day...  Go to full article

Farmers on the Wrong Side of the Law

Over the last five years, the number of Mexican and Central Americans working on the North Country's dairy farms has risen dramatically. Industry leaders agree farms depend on reliable, plentiful Hispanic labor to survive. If national estimates are right, about three-quarters of these workers entered the United States illegally. Farmers are not required to prove their workers are legal. In fact, they can be sued for discrimination if they challenge them. Still, dairy farmers find themselves on the wrong side of immigration law as it now stands. David Sommerstein has part two of our series, Latinos on the Farm.  Go to full article

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