Labor Shortages Mean Lost Income

A month ago, I presented American Vegetable Grower® magazine’s 15th annual Grower Achievement AwardSM to Arvin, CA-based Tasteful Selections at United Fresh’s Washington Conference. Accepting the award for the farm was Bob Bender, President and General Manager.

As Bender mentioned in an article talking about the problems impacting the industry, one of the issues plaguing his farm — which produces specialty potatoes, carrots, garlic, and watermelon on about 9,000 acres — is labor. It’s probably an issue for you too. To combat this problem, he says, Tasteful Selections uses linear irrigation, which reduces the need for labor and can irrigate 98% of the field. He also keeps watch on areas where automation can come into play, especially in the operation’s processing facility.

Labor was also a big topic of discussion during the Washington Conference. It was noted that labor shortages have resulted in more than $1.3 billion in lost farm income. It’s difficult to even wrap your head around that number!

As much as mechanization is touted as a way out of the labor mess, the National Council of Agricultural Employers’ Frank Gasperini told conference attendees it will not solve all labor problems. Mechanization is costly, and he pointed out that incorporating it in fruits and vegetables is not the same as using the technology in corn and soybeans.

The game plan remains the same as it has for a number of years: Congress must fix this problem. As that will not happen anytime soon and especially right before a presidential election, you still need to figure out how to get your crops harvested using the current cumbersome system.

If you weren’t able to attend United Fresh’s Washington Conference and take part in the annual march on Capitol Hill to discuss issues critical to the produce industry, I hope you will take the time to contact your own representatives in Congress and let them know — in detail — why you deserve to have a simplified guestworker program that will allow you access to the workers you need, when you need them.

Produce can’t wait in the field for workers to arrive. It was noted that on average, guestworkers arrive about 20 days late. Remember last spring when there was a bottleneck at the border and some growers didn’t receive workers in time to harvest their early crops? We also learned that the Department of Labor was using the U.S. Postal Service rather than email to process important information. Unacceptable.

Agriculture is not a typical industry; you are fulfilling a basic human need. Tell your story.

It’s time you received the help you need.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Labor Stories
farm labor pic for web
Citrus
April 20, 2017
Farm Labor Is in Crisis
To have a great crop potentially rot in the field because workers can’t be sourced is probably worse than a weather event taking out production. Read More
Business Planning
March 22, 2017
How HortTech Is Solving Grower Challenges
Dozens of tech companies are looking for solutions to real-world problems vegetable growers face. We take a look at what it could really mean for you and your business. Read More
farm labor pic for web
Fruits
February 10, 2017
Immigration Enforcement Warning Issued by Western Growers
Association advises members to prepare for Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in wake of Trump’s executive order. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2017
New York Representatives Introduce Bill to Move H-2A from Department of Labor to Department of Agriculture
Legislators say the move aligns the program in the department to better fit the needs of agriculture businesses. Read More
Farm Management
January 11, 2017
Where Do Vegetable Growers Find Labor?
Only 14% of vegetable growers use the H-2A program as a source of labor, according to American Vegetable Grower's 2017 State of the Vegetable Industry Survey. So where is the industry finding its labor? Read More
Farm Management
January 4, 2017
The Disappearing Workforce: Vegetable Growers Need Labor
The No. 1 issue for vegetable growers isn’t pests, food safety, or even weather. It’s a lack of labor. Read More
Farm Management
January 4, 2017
How Politics Will Impact Vegetable Growers and Labor in 2017
Vegetable growers face an uncomfortable set of truths: Government regulations can make life difficult for food producers. Regulations often stem Read More
Sprayer in a Florida citrus grove
Citrus
December 28, 2016
Farm Industry Organizations Petition for Delay in EPA Worker Protection Safety Rule
Groups say more time is needed to prepare for compliance. Read More
farm labor pic for web
Citrus
December 15, 2016
New Farmworker Protection Rules Now Employed
Changes include enhanced training and recordkeeping for pesticide applicators. Read More
Labor
November 1, 2016
Michigan Tree Fruit Commission Helps Research Station Obtain New Orchard Platform
Funding to help increase efficiency, make data collection easier. Read More
farm labor pic for web
Labor
October 12, 2016
Labor Shortages Mean Lost Income
Agriculture is not a typical industry; fresh produce can't wait in the field for a crew to come and harvest it. Read More
Action shot of an automated strawberry picker from Harvest CROO
Berries
September 22, 2016
Investors Clamoring For Automated Strawberry Picking Technology
Naturipe joins growing list of backers in the labor-saving vision and mission of ag-tech startup. Read More
Farm Management
September 14, 2016
Tasteful Selections Takes Home The 2016 Grower Achievement Award
The award was presented at United Fresh’s Washington Conference where discussions focused on labor, trade agreements, and the upcoming election. Read More
farm labor pic for web
Citrus
September 12, 2016
Historic Farmworker Overtime Law Approved
California legislation, the first of its kind in the nation, is reviled by grower groups who say it will actually do economic harm to farmworkers. Read More
Berries
September 2, 2016
Strawberry Grower Fined For Demanding Kickbacks From H-2A Workers
Operator reportedly demanded rent, payments for transportation and expenses incurred bringing workers to U.S. Read More
The Latest
Apples & Pears
May 15, 2017
U.S. Apple Board Member Stresses Labor R…
Michigan apple grower says agriculture’s future depends on Farm Bill funding. Read More
Fruits
May 4, 2017
Senate Democrats Unveil New Ag Labor Pla…
Feinstein, colleagues introduce legislation to shield farmworkers from deportation. Read More
Fruits
April 28, 2017
Don’t Miss the Ripple Effect of Ag…
When addressing the topic of ag labor, don’t ignore the ancillary benefits each agriculture job supports. Read More
Citrus
April 20, 2017
Farm Labor Is in Crisis
To have a great crop potentially rot in the field because workers can’t be sourced is probably worse than a weather event taking out production. Read More
Business Planning
March 22, 2017
How HortTech Is Solving Grower Challenge…
Dozens of tech companies are looking for solutions to real-world problems vegetable growers face. We take a look at what it could really mean for you and your business. Read More
Fruits
February 10, 2017
Immigration Enforcement Warning Issued b…
Association advises members to prepare for Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in wake of Trump’s executive order. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2017
New York Representatives Introduce Bill …
Legislators say the move aligns the program in the department to better fit the needs of agriculture businesses. Read More
Farm Management
January 11, 2017
Where Do Vegetable Growers Find Labor?
Only 14% of vegetable growers use the H-2A program as a source of labor, according to American Vegetable Grower's 2017 State of the Vegetable Industry Survey. So where is the industry finding its labor? Read More
Farm Management
January 4, 2017
The Disappearing Workforce: Vegetable Gr…
The No. 1 issue for vegetable growers isn’t pests, food safety, or even weather. It’s a lack of labor. Read More
Farm Management
January 4, 2017
How Politics Will Impact Vegetable Growe…
Vegetable growers face an uncomfortable set of truths: Government regulations can make life difficult for food producers. Regulations often stem Read More
Citrus
December 28, 2016
Farm Industry Organizations Petition for…
Groups say more time is needed to prepare for compliance. Read More
Citrus
December 15, 2016
New Farmworker Protection Rules Now Empl…
Changes include enhanced training and recordkeeping for pesticide applicators. Read More
Labor
November 1, 2016
Michigan Tree Fruit Commission Helps Res…
Funding to help increase efficiency, make data collection easier. Read More
Labor
October 12, 2016
Labor Shortages Mean Lost Income
Agriculture is not a typical industry; fresh produce can't wait in the field for a crew to come and harvest it. Read More
Berries
September 22, 2016
Investors Clamoring For Automated Strawb…
Naturipe joins growing list of backers in the labor-saving vision and mission of ag-tech startup. Read More
Farm Management
September 14, 2016
Tasteful Selections Takes Home The 2016 …
The award was presented at United Fresh’s Washington Conference where discussions focused on labor, trade agreements, and the upcoming election. Read More
Citrus
September 12, 2016
Historic Farmworker Overtime Law Approve…
California legislation, the first of its kind in the nation, is reviled by grower groups who say it will actually do economic harm to farmworkers. Read More
Berries
September 2, 2016
Strawberry Grower Fined For Demanding Ki…
Operator reportedly demanded rent, payments for transportation and expenses incurred bringing workers to U.S. Read More