No Migrants, No Food: Farm Worker Shortages

Washington apple growers are in trouble! It was a late spring, a cool summer, a long damp fall, and the apple trees are covered with ripe fruit. Unfortunately, it’s late October and cold, wet weather is just around the corner.

If those apples don’t get picked soon they’ll rot on the tree. Apple growers have posted help wanted ads, launched a radio campaign and increased wages. Still, growers say there aren’t enough workers to pick the crop.

Georgia will likely see a $75 million loss from crops that can’t be harvested because of a lack of farm workers. Farmers in Alabama have few options to locate workers to harvest fragile crops that require hand labor.

It is on the backs of seasonal labor that the American food system rests. And most of those workers are immigrants. Even in the face of high unemployment, few people are lining up for jobs on US farms.

Seasonal workers are often undocumented or are members of families with mixed documentation, and they are leaving states that are implementing tough immigration laws to work in states that are more hospitable.

Read How Anti-immigration Laws are Creating Farm Worker Shortages, and listen to Mike Gempler, executive director of the Washington Growers League as he speaks to KUOW’s Ross Reynolds about the challenges facing the Washington apple industry.

State Apple Growers Face Worker Shortage

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1 comment to No Migrants, No Food: Farm Worker Shortages

  • kay harmon

    As long as the growers dont want to work with the farm workers’ union
    then that says it all…
    they don’t want to treat their workers fairly.