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As rallies focusing on the controversial immigration issue took place across the country, yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that "there were signs that employers were being forced to cope with possible labor shortages."

The WSJ writes: "Businesses felt the impact from the workday march, which followed protests on Sunday. Several meatpacking plants either temporarily shut down or operated on a reduced schedule because of a lack of production-line workers, many of whom are immigrants. Industry giant Tyson Foods Inc. said some of its facilities, including a plant in Madison, Neb., will be closed, partly because of the planned rallies and partly because of poor livestock market conditions.

"Futures traders and other meat-industry sources reported that at least two Swift & Co. beef plants were operating at reduced speeds Monday, apparently because of employee shortages. Also, a large Smithfield Foods Inc. pork plant in North Carolina wasn't operating, industry sources said. Company officials said they don't comment on daily plant operations unless developments are material."

KC's View:
It seems clear that the immigration problem will not be easily resolved, and we suspect that the ripples will be felt up and down the food chain. We don’t really know how we feel about the issue and what the best answer is. Philosophically, we sort of like Tom Friedman's approach, which is to make sure that the country has a "high fence and a wide gate,' though we're not entirely sure how this effectively translates to public policy.

But it is an issue on which the industry needs to focus, because the implications could be enormous.