Farmers Report Labor Shortage

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, September 7, 2006

Jack King with the California Farm Bureau Federation says most farmers haven’t been able to get as many workers as they need….He says in some cases they’re down anywhere from 20-50 percent. Hardest hit have been Lake and Mendocino counties, where pears are rotting in orchards and growers estimate they’ll lose 30-percent of this year’s crop.  He says the loss won’t just be felt by farmers:

 “For every job in actual field harvest 3 or 4 jobs are created along the line in transportation, marketing, processing, so it will have a community impact.”

The reason for the shortage? King says the wet spring and summer heat wave delayed the harvest…but mostly he blames a dearth of foreign workers and the lack of an expanded guest-worker program, which Congress has not approved.