One aspect of the ongoing crisis at the southern border that gets little attention is the threat that illegal immigrants pose to the nation’s food security as they pass through growing fields, contaminating fresh produce that then must be destroyed.
Now that Arizona has begun the process of dismantling the makeshift solution of plugging gaps in the unfinished border wall with shipping containers put into place by former Gov. Doug Ducey, the vital crops that provide much of the wintertime produce used in salads are being jeopardized by migrants passing through fields after they have crossed into the U.S.
Two Yuma-area farmers talked to Fox News Digital about the difficulties that they are faced with in running their businesses as a result of the illegal aliens trespassing through the fields, trampling crops as well as spoiling products with their human waste.
“There’s obviously a food safety concern because our fields are monitored and audited and tested for different pathogens,” said Alex Muller, president of the Pasquinelli Produce Company in Yuma. “If there’s somebody that walks into our field and then we don’t know about why we put up flags and kind of mark it out and we don’t harvest that.”
“That hits the bottom line,” he said. “It’s not sustainable. It’s not good for the country.”
(Video: Fox News Digital)
Yuma is America’s top supplier of leafy green vegetables during the winter months, providing around 90 percent of the nation’s iceberg and romaine lettuce, according to the Department of Agriculture, with around 9 billion servings of the leafy greens per year. But the farmers are concerned that the ongoing influx of migrants through the gaps will impact the ability to maintain the rate of supply.
“We’ve gotten a fair amount of traffic through and around our fields and through the whole entire Yuma Valley,” fifth-generation farmer Hank Auza told Fox News Digital. “Where the gaps are opens up to more farm ground for them to walk across, and we can’t have unauthorized people in our fields”
Auza said that his farm alone spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on food safety to prevent the spread of foodborne illness and that people walking through the fields leads to failing food safety audits, leading to financial losses.
“There is no insurance in the produce business, this is Las Vegas every day, so you eat that,” he said.
“Last December, there was 30 Haitians living in the middle of a field for a week and they wouldn’t leave,” he recalled of a neighboring farm. “So you know that they had to go to the bathroom somewhere.”
“So they had to destroy some celery that cost about ten thousand bucks an acre a day to grow it,” adding that about ten acres of the vegetable had to be disposed of.
“This is the largest humanitarian disaster we’ve had in this country,” Auza said. “And part of the country is happy that it’s happening. I don’t get why.”
“This is produce that we’re growing for the whole country, and it should be protected,” Muller said.
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