Only 14% of vegetable growers use the H-2A program as a source of labor, according to American Vegetable Grower® magazine’s 2017 State of the Vegetable Industry Survey. So where is the industry finding its labor?
Here are the four sources you told us about:
- Local hires. The No. 1 write-in response was local labor. The size of the operation was a major factor. Smaller growers are much more likely to turn to local labor, whereas only 18% of larger growers are able to use local labor exclusively.
- No labor/family only. Again, size matters. Only the smallest farms can get away with no outside labor.
- Contractors and agencies. When growers need more than a handful of employees, they turn to professional help.
- Creative solutions. A number of growers used innovative solutions, such as a swap plan with other growers, recruiting volunteers and interns, tapping into the local (and legal) refugee population, and turning to mechanization instead of a labor force.