Labor and Tree Fruit Pt 2

Labor and Tree Fruit Pt 2

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. The COVID-19 coronavirus continues to be a challenge months after it began, as ag employers scramble to navigate a successful harvest season.

Northwest Horticultural Council president, Mark Powers says there are concerns about workers in the packing houses …

POWERS … “There has been, you know, walk outs from some of the packing houses in the local Yakima area. We haven’t seen that widespread across the fruit growing region in the Pacific Northwest, but locally there are some walkouts.”

And, Powers says safety for workers in the fields and orchards is important, but also for the workers in the packing houses …

POWERS … “Just as you’re reading about the same kind of concerns that exist in other areas of agriculture or retail or food service or what-not. So, we’re certainly not immune from those concerns and our packers are doing everything they can to keep workers safe and to provide the safe working conditions that everybody needs.”

Powers says he’s confident we’ll get the work done …

POWERS … “You’d be surprised in a lot of the facilities now with the technology that has eliminated a lot of the sorters that are required. I mean, we’ve got high-capacity, computerized scanners that look at the fruit and we’ve been able to reduce our labor dependency quite a bit, however, yeah, it’s still manual labor.

Food processing is a $12-billion industry and is the state’s second largest manufacturing industry.

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