Drop In Farm Labor Supply
I’m Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.
Dr. Karina Gallardo, Associate Professor at WSU, spoke recently at the annual NW Hort convention about the tree fruit industry’s dependance on migrant labor. According to Gallardo there was a bonanza of labor between 2000 and 2007 due to a glut of unauthorized migration coming mainly from Mexico to the U.S.. Since then there’s been a decreasing tendency, placing a squeeze on available labor. Gallardo says that decrease can be attributed to a drop in birth rates in Mexico since the 1990’s, an increase in border enforcement, and the fact that Mexico’s economy has been growing faster per year than the U.S. economy.
GALLARDO: The per capita economic growth in Mexico in 1995 it was around $3,600, and in 2013 we have $10,300.
For every 1% of per capita growth Gallardo says the amount of migrant labor decreases by 7.9%. With labor demand staying relatively constant at 1 million migrant workers needed yearly for agricultural activities Gallardo says alternatives need to be found, such as investing in labor saving technologies and the H2A guest worker program.
GALLARDO: Based on all the issues we estimated that the farm labor supply will decrease by about 1% in the next 5 years. For 2018-2025 it will be 1.4% decrease, and after 2025 until 2038 will be .7%.
That’s Washington Ag Today.
I’m Lacy Gray with the Ag Information Network of the West.