A variety of peach developed for Floridas climate has yet to take off. Similar attempts to grow olives have sputtered. As insurance for rough times, many crop farmers also manage herds of cattle, raising calves that are then sold to slaughterhouses up north. This year, cattle prices are down sharply, adding to the financial frustration. On the front lines of the agriculture battle, farmers are grappling with two major issues that were both central to this years presidential campaign: international competition and immigration. Diehl, the tomato farmer, said cheap foreign imports drove prices so low last year that he purposefully cut back production this season. Were hoping (Donald) Trump can put a flat surcharge on everything coming in from Mexico, he said of the president-elect. Otherwise we wont survive. Struggling to find domestic labor, Floridas farmers have turned to the pricey H2A visa program, which brings in temporary agriculture workers from Latin America. Diehl recently completed construction on about a dozen new trailers that will be used to house H2A workers, who will help to pick his fields. He estimates that he spends more than $1,000 in transportation and government visa fees for each laborer, not counting the cost of housing or the workers hourly pay, which by law has to meet or exceed that of American laborers. I dont know any other way of doing it, Diehl said.
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