The braceros saved American agriculture during the war years, yet to this day, those hundreds of thousands of men are given little recognition. Officially named the Emergency Farm Labor Supply Program, it came to be known as the Bracero Program, and had a powerful impact in Oregon during and beyond World War II. The next OREGON EXPERIENCE  looks at how these workers forever changed the face of Oregon agriculture – and other aspects of life in the Pacific Northwest – in ways we are only beginning to understand. Tune in to the stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting Television on Monday, May 7 at 9pm and Sunday, May 15 at 1pm.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor caught all of America off guard, and the rapid transformation to a country at war changed just about every aspect of the American economy. Agriculture faced an especially confounding dilemma.

World War II created a skyrocketing demand for agricultural products. But the war also caused vast numbers of agricultural workers to abandon the fields, either to join the military or to seek more lucrative work in the cities.

In Oregon, farmers explored an array of creative solutions to the dire labor shortage. Few sources of local planters and pickers went untapped. Everyone from housewives to students, bank employees to German prisoners of war were called on to help. But here, as elsewhere across the country, local solutions were simply not enough.

The eventual answer would be an international agreement between the United States and Mexico, an arrangement for American farmers (and railroad companies) to contract temporary Mexican workers. This episode of OREGON EXPERIENCE explores the Braceros Program and its legacy.

OREGON EXPERIENCE is an exciting new history series on OPB-TV that brings to life fascinating stories that help us understand who we are and that reinforce our shared identity as Oregonians. The series, co-produced by the Oregon Historical Society and Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), takes advantage of the extensive film, video and stills from the archives of OHS and OPB, and draws upon the expertise of OHS researchers and historians. Each half-hour show features captivating characters — both familiar and forgotten — who have played key roles in building our state into the unique place we call home.

Funding for OREGON EXPERIENCE is provided in part by Ann & Bill Swindells Charitable Trust, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Robert C. and Nani S. Warren Foundation and Oregon Cultural Trust.

About OPB
OPB is the state’s most far-reaching and accessible media resource, providing free access to programming for children and adults designed to give voice to community, connect Oregon and its neighbors and illuminate a wider world. Every week, over 1.5 million people tune in to or log on to OPB’s Television, Radio and Internet delivered services. As the hub of operations for the state’s Emergency Broadcast and Amber Alert services, OPB serves as the backbone for the distribution of critical information to broadcasters and homes throughout Oregon. Oregon Public Broadcasting is a statewide network that includes OPB Television, an affiliate of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and OPB Radio, presenting local news coverage and the programs of National Public Radio (NPR), Public Radio International (PRI) and American Public Media (APM). The OPB Web site is