President Donald Trump’s get-tough attitude on immigration is spurring a surge of high-tech investment in America’s heartland, where farmers are scrambling for new ways of coping with labor shortages and slumping profits.
Finding people for the sometimes back-breaking tasks of planting and harvesting crops has become more and more difficult in the U.S., where the industry has relied on cheap immigrant labor for generations. Since taking office in January, Trump has compounded the problem with actions to limit foreign workers. But that’s also encouraged some investors to bet that growers will increasingly need new tools to cut costs and boost productivity.
In the first quarter of 2017, a surge of cash has poured into agricultural technology companies, including some big-time investors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Sam Altman’s Y Combinator. Startups received $200 million through 29 deals, the most of any quarter since researcher CB Insights began tracking the data in 2012.
Additionally, the announcement in 2013 of a big takeover by Monsanto Co., the world’s biggest seed maker, brought more attention from investors to ag tech .
Read more: Bloomberg