Business

Wednesday, Dec 05 2012 10:21 AM

California farmers complain of labor shortage

BY MARK GLOVER The Sacramento Bee

Nearly two-thirds of farmers who responded to a California Farm Bureau Federation survey said they were challenged to find enough workers to help tend and harvest crops this year.

The Sacramento-based bureau said the online survey included responses from nearly 800 of its members.

Sixty-one percent of respondents said they experienced worker shortages of varying degrees. To deal with shortages, farmers said they offered higher wages, delayed pruning/harvesting, used mechanization if possible or did not harvest some of their crop.

Bureau President Paul Wenger said the survey showed the need for a more-effective program for hiring migrant workers.

"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 mid-sized farms," he said.

Some farm groups have called for immigration law that would allow foreign residents with identification to continue to work in agriculture or to enter the United States legally for that specific purpose.

A detailed report, "Walking the Tightrope: California Farmers Struggle with Employee Shortages," can be seen at www.cfbf.com.

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