U.S. Farm Labor Shortages

U.S. Farm Labor Shortages

Friday, September 30, 2016 - 12:00pm


The diminishing supply of farm labor is one of the most threatening issues affecting our nation’s fresh produce industry, a sector largely dependent on labor for the harvest and packing of delicate fruit and vegetables. As of last year, an estimated $3.1 billion had been lost in farm income due to labor shortages according to a 2015 report by the Partnership for a New American Economy.

Earlier this month, I spent three days in D.C. at the United Fresh Washington Conference, where this problem was a hot topic of discussion. The industry’s concern was clear: with such a large portion of the agricultural workforce made up of undocumented workers, the crackdown on illegal immigration, fewer migrants from Mexico coming to the U.S., a political stalemate on immigration reform and path to citizenship, and only one legal guestworker program in place, our nation’s agricultural producers have been left with few options. This puts increased pressure on producers who rely on a consistent workforce each season to get product into boxes and onto grocery store shelves...

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