Don’t expect food prices to suddenly skyrocket despite what you’ve heard about crops rotting in the fields in California.
A misleading story on NBC Nightly News has led several news outlets to report incorrect information about the state of California agriculture, sparking fears that food prices might soon rise due to a supposed labor shortage. The report highlighted “immigration fears” and claimed “a surge of arrests” by the Trump administration was partly to blame.
The problem: the central fact relied on by NBC News to back up the anecdotes of the single farmer interviewed is two years old. The connection to current debates over immigration or the Trump administration is simply imaginary.
“The labor shortage is so severe that entire fields like these have gone unharvested. In fact, here in central California in two counties more than $13 million have been lost,” NBC correspondent Jo Ling Kent said while standing in the midst of a lush field of leafy vegetables.
That $13 million figure comes from an annual survey of the members of the Grower-Shipper Association of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. But the survey was taken last year and asked respondents about revenue lost due to a lack of workers in 2015. So NBC News was not reporting on current farm conditions but farm conditions as they existed in the seventh year of the Obama administration.
“This has been an ongoing problem and it continues. It’s not something that has suddenly happened,” Claire Wineman of the Association told Breitbart News.