Migrant workers make up the backbone of the agricultural sector of our economy; however, low pay, undesirable working conditions, and substandard housing accommodations make migrant farm work not highly sought after by Americans. So, who fills the position? Predominantly, illegal immigrants comprise the migrant workforce. In 1983, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA) was passed to protect the rights of migrant workers.Provisions and RequirementsUnder the MSPA, farm labor contractors, agricultural employers, and agricultural associations, who recruit, solicit, hire, employ, furnish, transport, or house agricultural workers must meet certain minimum requirements. Such requirements include:
• Farm labor contractors must register with the Department of Labor before hiring or recruiting migrant workers• Agricultural and employer associations must cooperate with the farm labor contractors to ensure compliance with the MSPA• Employers must provide seasonal workers with a written copy of the terms and conditions of their employment prior to hiring. Additionally, if employees request a copy at any point during their employment, it must be provided to them.• Wages must be paid when due• Employers cannot break the terms of their contract with employees at any point unless there is legitimate justification for doing so• All migrant housing accommodations must meet state and federal standards of health and safety• All vehicles used to transport migrant laborers must be properly insured and meet safety standards set forth by the state. Additionally, all drivers of the vehicles must be licensed.• The Wage and Hour Division may randomly inspect an employer’s pay roll, housing and vehicle safety, and interview employers and employees.Failure to ComplyUnder the MSPA, migrant farmers and seasonal agricultural workers have the right to file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division, file a private lawsuit, and testify or cooperate with an investigation or lawsuit without receiving any backlash from their employer.
Unfortunately, most migrant farmers are undocumented workers, which severely impedes their ability to take legal action against employers who violate the provisions of the MSPA. Additionally, because 61% of U.S. farm workers’ income fall below the poverty level (with a median income of less than $7500 annually), migrant workers do not have the financial capacity to file a lawsuit.For more information on employment law and how it pertains to migrant workers, contact the San Antonio employment lawyers of Melton & Kumler, LLP.
The last few months in the market have been quite nerve racking. Stock prices are bouncing up and down like a basketball in a high school gym class. Dow 14,000…Dow 13,000….Dow 14,000. The 200 and 300 point wings we see every day make picking the right stock all the more important.As we discussed earlier this week, banking stocks have been destroyed and are setting themselves up for more of the same. Energy stocks continue to rally as oil prices constantly push to new highs, and the salivating press drools more each day as we near $100 per barrel. Technology stocks which have shown considerable strength in the last few weeks, have recently suffered a slide of their own. This leaves many investors on the sidelines asking the question:”Where is today’s growth market?”I think I have the answer to that, but first a little background.Commodity prices across the board are rallying. Gold is over $800 and is on its way to who knows where. Silver meanwhile has crossed $15 per ounce. All of the news seems to be about oil approaching the $100 dollar a barrel level, and natural gas futures reaching new highs. What is lost in the information overload is that the more common commodities are also reaching new highs. Corn is a mere 12% from its highs reached earlier this year.
Wheat prices are double the previous highs achieved in the last decade.Soybeans, oats, barley….the list goes on of agricultural commodities that are reaching new 52-week or lifetime highs. Increasing demand for commodities is driving many agricultural stocks to new highs. Look at Deere & Co. (DE), a leading supplier of farm and forestry equipment throughout the world. The stock has been hitting new highs for the last few years as their business performance has been nothing short of spectacular.So, what is driving their business? Let’s let Deere CEO Bob Lane explain:”Farm commodity production, as an example, has been expanding across the world in recent years yet has consistently fallen short of demand.Global carryover stocks of corn and wheat are at 30-year lows in relationto use. Consumption is being driven by a global population growing in both size and affluence, and by the increasing popularity of renewable fuels.”Put simply, demand for commodities is growing faster than the supply of those commodities. This is causing prices to rise. When prices rise, the commodity producers – farmers – rush out to plant more crops, and create more supply. To do this they need more equipment, seed, and fertilizer. They need the products that agricultural-related companies are selling.
This demand can’t be satiated overnight. It can take several years for a previously unfarmed piece of land to produce high yields of a quality crop. As amazing as it sounds, the agricultural industry is in a period of dynamic growth. Growth which is expected to continue for a few more years at a minimum.There are a number of companies in the agricultural industry that I like. Deere is only one example of a company benefiting from this growing market. The other major player worth mentioning is Monsanto (MON) which provides seeds and herbicides to farmers in an effort to expand their crop yields.With the market volatility increasing, I am focusing on fundamental stories and long term growth prospects. For me, the agricultural industry, and the companies supplying to it, have a lot of growth ahead. It clearly deserves a very close look.