There was a local news story (in CA) about this initiative last night where the reporter was asking random people if they would work as a farm worker.
It was interesting in that most folks said yes they would, with many citing illegal immigration and how it is ruining the nation. Funny moment was when an unemployed person also said yes, then was offered a job on the spot, and answered 'but I'm still collecting unemployment.' The reporter then asked when his unemployment runs out, the good citizen refused to answer and walked away.
I've worked in minimum wage jobs before (janitor, field work) and I just don't see how the work ethics of an average American worker will suffice on a farm."
Were you and your co-workers above average or non-American? As an American worker, reasonably close to average in physical condition, I did work low-wage jobs (loading dock, janitorial, landscape) when in my late teens and very early 20s. No doubt I complained, but apparently I sufficed.
"People complain when they work in air conditioned offices, how will they survive standing in 100 degrees weather in a field?"
Complaining, I guess.
Frankly, it isn't primarily the conditions of work that would deter me from farm work--though that would, too--it's the pay.
I agree. And to provide an anecdote, I grew up in Central CA where my father is real estate broker who specializes in farm land. When I was 12, I begged my Dad to get me a summer job and asked if one of his farmer friends could help me out.
My father gladly obliged and got me a job in the fields, cutting grapes and placing them on 'raisin paper' (I was to receive .10/raisin paper). Toughest, hardest job of my life - I barely survived and at lunch time, decided to call it a day and spent rest of the afternoon under the shade of an almond grove across the road. All the while, the real farm workers were busting their ass in 100+ degree weather and taking a quick 20min lunch and sporadic water breaks. At that time there was no break/lunch/water mandate similar to what we have nowadays.
Are you kidding!?! Very few American workers are farm laborers or farmers. The entire agribusiness sector employs less than 2% of the US work force, which is quite a precipitous drop from the 40% of so it employed a century ago. Workers did not leave the farms because they were pushed out or because the government manipulated the farm labor market, they left because the work is hard and the pay has always been low.
The decline in the percentage of Americans who work in agriculture is due to advances in farming technology, not due to low pay. Now one person with a giant combine that didn't exist 100 years ago can do the work of tens or hundreds of people.
Depends on what you're farming - technology certainly has an impact with crops like wheat and potatoes - grapes, lettuce, melons, citrus, berries, etc. are a whole different story and require manual labor with technology having less impact.