Mar 14, 2017Vegetable Growers News survey: grower labor supply
Vegetable Growers News asked readers four questions in January, seeking information on their labor supply. A sampling of the results is below.
Did you have enough labor in 2016?
No: 53 percent
Yes: 47 percent
If not, how short were you (as a percentage of workers needed)?
Responses ranged from 5 percent short to 100 percent short.
What did you do to make up the difference?
- Combined two crews to make up one full crew
- Advertised locally
- Hired from the Department of Labor
- Harvested for the process market
- Left fruit on the tree pickers
- Picked over more days at a slower pace and lost more fruit to rot because of it
- Temporary workers were provided through staffing agencies until quotas satisfied with direct hires
- Worked longer hours
- Used PGRs
- Took longer to harvest
- Picked some myself
- Paid more money
- Kept taking out trees
- Picked half days on Sundays and paid piece rate to improve harvest speed
- Hired more H-2A workers
- Asked for labor from another grower
- Took a financial loss/canceled orders
- Machine harvested
- Advertised at local Mexican grocery stores and ran Facebook ads for three weeks
What are your plans for labor in 2017?
- I have already started to recruit amongst local students
- Hire H-2A, hope Americans get a work ethic!
- The same as every year .. hope for immigration reform that benefits me
- Direct hire with competitive wage/benefits/working environment
- Pay more (about $15 per hour orchard labor; $25 per hour harvest)
- Dozing a few more acres of trees out of production
- Purchased a harvester and will still use a limited number of hand pickers
- Same staffing unless the feds loosen up the border
- Out of ideas
- Beg growers to spare workers
- Cross my fingers, pay more if margins allow
- Sell the farm
- Apply ReTain on a portion of the crop to delay (and compact) harvest; use picking platform on some blocks of high-density blocks to speed harvest
- Improve labor efficiency, raise wages on picking
- Machine harvest when needed
Grow fewer crops that require labor
- I will continue to cut back on labor and change the way we farm
- Recruit, recruit, recruit!
- We increased our housing by 20 percent; each costs around $13,500 per bed, which includes sewer, utilities and permitting
- Try to hire local workers
- Just family