The Associated Press reports on the difficulty of finding temporary farm workers and the need for Congress to pass an “AgJobs” bill and a simplified temporary worker visa program.
The labor shortage is impacting farms across the country. In Appleton, N.Y., Jim Bittner had to cut down a quarter of his cherry and peach trees due to the shortage of migrant workers. In California’s Imperial Valley, asparagus production dropped from 786 acres in 2006 to 373 acres in 2008 due in a large part to a shortage of workers.
“Asparagus in the Imperial Valley is an indicator as to what happens with crops that are labor intensive and what happens when labor becomes unfeasible economically and also just hard to find,” said Ayron Moiola, the executive director of the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association.
Farm Bureau supports a worker program that addresses agriculture’s unique needs and backs a visa program that lasts at least three years and is renewable multiple times.