US (CA): California farmers report labor shortages

The majority of farmers who responded to a survey regarding labor demands in California's agricultural sector reported challenges in finding enough workers this year.

The survey, conducted by the Calfornia Farm Bureau Federation, found that 61 percent of respondents reported worker shortages. At 71 percent, a larger percentage of farmers who grow labor-intensive crops reported experiencing worker shortages. The survey's findings also showed that farmers resorted to a variety of measures to deal with labor shortages, including offering higher wages, adjusting harvesting and pruning times, relying more on mechanization, and, in some cases, planting fewer acres or cutting the harvest short.

California Farm Bureau President, Paul Wenger, said in a CFBF press release that the survey's findings raise issues that must be addressed by farmers and non-farmers alike; especially considering that farmers rely on a largely immigrant workforce.

“Through this survey, California farmers have given us a glimpse into what may happen if current trends continue,” he said. “Without the creation of a secure, effective program that allows people from foreign countries to work legally in the United States to harvest crops, we could see continuing or worsening problems, especially for small or midsized farms.”

The results of the survey are contained in a CFBF report titled “Walking the Tightrope: California Farmers Struggle with Employee Shortages.” It can be found at cfbf.com.

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