In California’s Central Valley, workers are still showing up to work day after day, but a serious worker shortage looms. The majority of those who are picking crops are migrant workers who came to the state to provide for their families. Their hard work keeps the American grocery stores stocked; without them, our nation would be thrown into greater chaos.
Approximately three million farmworkers are estimated to be working in the United States. More than 800,000 work in California, and nearly 70 percent are immigrants, according to New American Economy. But this is the bare minimum, essentially a skeleton crew. For years, California farmers have been requesting more H-2A visas for temporary farmworkers and a smoother process to get them here. The federal government is now taking limited steps to help, but it’s far from enough.
Zippy Duvall, the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, recently noted: “Empty shelves can be frightening, but empty fields and barns would be devastating.”
According to some, the current US policies and a lack of sufficient guest-worker provisions are not effective enough to fight off that terrifying vision. The pandemic has highlighted two major problems with American agriculture: the shortage of qualified and willing farmworkers and the unfair treatment they receive.