Cut Flower Grower Tells It Like It Is

A cut flower grower in southern California made it clear that his business relies on illegal immigrant labor, making him one of the few farmers who really wants to own up to the situation.

"I’m assuming that a good number of our people are lying," said Mellano, 67, who farms lilies, irises and sunflowers on 375 acres of rolling hills. "We are required by law to hire people that have documents, which is what we do, but we know a significant number are forgeries. Everyone knows that."

California cut flower growers face stiff competition from south of the border.  Over three-fourths of the flowers we buy in this country come from Latin America, and many US growers, Mellano included, actually buy carnations and roses for their mixed bouquets from Colombia because it is more cost-effective than growing their own.

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