Farmers from California to New York struggled to find enough people to harvest their crops this season, a shortage they blame on federal bureaucratic requirements, a sharp decline in migrant laborers willing to cross the U.S.-Mexican border and the greater availability of non-farm work in the slowly improving economy.
State laws designed to crack down on migrant laborers, who make up the bulk of the nation’s seasonal farm workers, are also to blame, agriculture officials say.
“We see shortages in all parts of the country,” said Kristi Boswell, director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau. “Farmers are struggling with fewer bodies out there to harvest the crop. They’re definitely stressed.”
Agriculture has one of the highest shares of foreign-born and illegal immigrant workers among U.S. industries, according to a February 2012 report by Philip Martin, an agricultural economist at the University of California, Davis.
For more, see: Valley hit by worker shortage plaguing rest of U.S.