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In this, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020 photo a worker sorts through tomatoes after they are washed before being inspected and packed, in Florida City, Fla. A Florida bill mandating that private companies verify each new hire's eligibility to work in the U.S. is worrying farmers in the agriculture-rich state. The growers complain they are struggling to find farm workers as the unemployment rate reaches record lows. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
In this, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020 photo a worker sorts through tomatoes after they are washed before being inspected and packed, in Florida City, Fla. A Florida bill mandating that private companies verify each new hire's eligibility to work in the U.S. is worrying farmers in the agriculture-rich state. The growers complain they are struggling to find farm workers as the unemployment rate reaches record lows. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Headlines

Farmers worry E-Verify will worsen labor scarcity woes

E-Verify could cost employers up to $24K in year one.

On a recent afternoon, many stools stood empty beside a conveyor belt where workers examined a stream of green tomatoes and tossed aside those with holes and cracks at a South Florida packing house.

Paul J. DiMare, one of the country’s leading producers of fresh tomatoes, recalls the days when hundreds of foreign workers lined up to labor in the fields or box the produce at his facility in Florida City. The machines roared for more than 12 hours a day as truckloads of tomatoes rolled in to be washed, inspected and packaged. Now, they run for only four.

“If you have no labor, you can’t run your operation,” DiMare says.

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