An April immigration raid in Avondale has put mushroom farms at the epicenter of renewed immigration enforcement under the Trump Administration, but the fear of deportation looms over the entire agricultural industry.
Department of Labor surveys suggest that “half of all U.S. farm workers are undocumented immigrants,” according to a Marketplace report by Laura Benshoff.
“There’s uncertainty with businesses,” said Pietro Industries President Chris Alonzo. “A lot of businesses have slowed down their investment in new equipment because we’re unsure of the workforce situation.”
In Chester County, mushroom farm workers are primarily Mexicans and Guatemalans who are paid by the pound at a rate that translates to about $8 to $14 per hour.
But with the state’s lowest unemployment, any drop in labor participation by immigrants shows up noticeably around Kennett Square.
“A lot of our employees are saying they’re just leaving to go back to Mexico; they just want to go home,” said Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms Regulatory Manager Meghan Klotzbach.