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California Farmers Having Trouble Finding Workers

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(Stockton, CA)
Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A survey by the California Farm Bureau shows that almost two-thirds of farmers encountered labor shortages this year.

The crops most affected were row crops, tree fruits, and grapes.

Lodi grape grower Diego Olagary says he had trouble hiring enough workers in the spring, and he expects he won't have enough for winter pruning.

OLAGARY: "We're competing against a couple of crops, cherries and also blueberries, so with that competition we just had a difficult time trying to build up our crews, couldn't really build our crews."

Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger blames several factors including the lack of a reliable U.S. guest worker program and a better Mexican economy which has many workers staying home or going home.

WENGER: "We have so many specialty crops that are seasonal, and perishable by nature that cannot be harvested with machine harvesting and so we are going to have labor shortages, we know that."

According to the survey, almost 20 percent of California farmers planted fewer acres because of the labor shortage.

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