WASHINGTON AG NETWORK – GLENN VAAGEN
Washington farmers have faced ag labor shortages year after year, but according to a new study by the Washington Policy Center the problem has increased in recent years. The WPC’s Madi Clark over 96% of farms experienced a labor disruption of some kind last year. And she noted, over 53% of farms reported some type of damage due to a disruption.
“Only 17% of the farms actually lost a crop in the field, the other responses were economic damage due to quality loss. Most farmers experienced that type of economic loss. Just, the apples weren’t harvested on time so they got a little sunburned.”
Clark noted that Oregon and California are in a similar situation, due to the labor intensive crops gown along the west coast. What can be done? Clark said there are two key issues that must be addressed. The first mechanization in the fields.
“Then the second things is trying to smooth access for the H-2A temporary work visas,” Clark added. “So, making that work easier because it has a lot of red tape and bureaucratic problems that delay getting workers to the field.”
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