Washington Labor Issues Part 3

Washington Labor Issues Part 3

Washington Labor Issues Part 3. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Fruit Grower Report.

Statistics suggest that the majority of the farm laborers in this country are here illegally. So how do farmers and orchardists get a stable, legal workforce to do the job? Some say the answer is in the H2A program but Dan Newhouse, Director of the Washington State Department of Ag says there are problems with that.

NEWHOUSE: Most smaller growers don’t have the ability to use the H2A program. They just don’t have the wherewithal to provide all the necessary requirements that the program entails and so it’s been seen to the industry as not being a very viable alternative.

A state solution just didn’t pan out a few years ago and Newhouse says several other states have been trying as well.

NEWHOUSE: What we’re looking for - and I know this is an election year, likely a lot of things aren’t going to be happening - but we’re hoping we can keep the discussion moving - get more people understanding the need, the necessity to do something soon because of our dependence on a work force that may not be here.

He sees a program that would allow workers to legally enter the country..do the work and then go back home. He says there are always red flag issues.

NEWHOUSE: Citizenship; they’ve broken the law they need to be punished, there should be fines involved, they should all be sent home. There’s all kinds of issues surrounding that and I don’t pretend to have the answers to all those issues but I don know that if a lot of these folks were able to move across the border legally, be able to come here - work and then go back home - I think a lot of them would do that on a seasonal basis.

That’s today’s Fruit Grower Report. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network. 

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