Tag Archives: agriculture

How to Fix Immigration’s Black Market

Alex Nowrasteh and I have a piece in today’s Detroit News arguing that liberalization, not regulation, is the way to shrink immigration’s massive black market. Our main points:

-New rules that came into effect this month, such as raising the minimum wage for H-2A visa holders (that’s the visa for low-skilled agricultural workers) makes cheaper undocumented workers look more attractive for employers. They actually harm legal workers.

-Other new regulations, including background checks, workplace inspections, and mountains of paperwork, cost thousands of dollars per employee. These regulations also make black market workers look more attractive.

-The way to reduce illegal immigration is liberalization. For agricultural workers, that means making their H-2A visas inexpensive, easy to obtain, and keeping the bureaucracy to a minimum.

-When legal channels cost too much in time and money, people will turn to illegal channels every time. That’s how the world works. Getting rid of immigration’s black market begins with admitting that fact.

Regulation of the Day 76: Generic Medication for Farm Animals

If you put chlortetracycline powder in your farm animals’ drinking water to prevent disease, please be aware that a new federal rule now allows you to buy a generic version of the powder if you wish.

Actually, I probably shouldn’t be calling that rule a “rule.” As the new rule states:

This rule does not meet the definition of ‘‘rule’’ in 5 U.S.C. 804(3)(A) because it is a rule of ‘‘particular applicability.’’

Despite the rule being called a rule twice in one sentence, it really isn’t a rule. Probably best to let logicians sort that one out.

Regulation of the Day 65: Weighing Animals


If you sell poultry or livestock, it’s a good idea to weigh them first. Makes it easier for buyer and seller to agree on a fair price.

For some reason, seven sections of the Code of Federal Regulations (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) deal with the use and maintenance of the scales used to weigh the animals, the people operating them, proper procedure, and finally, weighing the animals again.

Is this really a federal matter? If so, what isn’t?

What Does Protectionism Protect?

Classic reductio ad absurdum.

Modern technology could easily grow oranges and grapes in hothouses in the arctic and subarctic countries. Everybody would call such a venture lunacy. But it is essentially the same to preserve the growing of cereals in rocky mountain valleys by tariffs and other devices of protectionism while elsewhere there is plenty of fallow fertile land. The difference is merely one of degree.

Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, p. 395.

Regulation of the Day 47: Irish Potatoes

Until last Friday, it was illegal for certain producers to sell or import U.S. No. 1 grade “Creamer size” (long and skinny) Irish potatoes. Creamer size potatoes are identical in taste, texture, and weight to their stouter, rounder counterparts.

In the Idaho-Eastern Oregon growing region, this led to over $7 million worth of potatoes to go unsold. That’s a lot of uneaten meals. Hopefully the USDA will repeal similar aesthetic restrictions on other types of food. It is bad policy to keep perfectly good food off the market, especially during times of recession and high food prices.