Mar 14, 2017
Vegetable 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!
  • Praying
  • 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

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