From the Modesto Bee:
Kevin Steward has spent more than a quarter-century in agriculture, much of that growing grapes for wineries. He's always been able to rely on seasonal workers to tend the vines and bring in the year's harvest.
But this year, workers are harder to come by.
"I could use 30 men," Steward said. "We'll get 'er done, but I can't find anybody."
Growers throughout the fertile Central Valley are wringing their hands as they struggle to find the manpower they need.
Anti-immigration laws and policies, an aging population, and even a raging drug war south of the border all are contributing to a slowdown in the pipeline of Mexican workers that for so long have fueled California's farm industry, experts say.
"We're just not seeing the number of people we (usually) see this time of year," said Bryan Little, director of farm labor affairs at the California Farm Bureau Federation.
Steward, president of the Sacramento County Farm Bureau, said he has only a fraction of the 40 workers he depends on to tend the 1,000 acres of vineyards he manages in Amador and San Joaquin counties.
"I've never seen it this bad," he said, though he's heard that there are "a lot of good workers who are busy picking cherries."