Ag Workforce Challenges
Labor-related challenges still plague many farming operations. Here are a few updates courtesy of the California Farm Bureau Federation.
Summer jobs on the farm for high school and college students are nowhere near as common as they once were. As a national survey shows the average age of the farm workforce going up, California farmers say young people don’t think much about farm work anymore. One farmer says he hasn’t hired a student for a summer job in several years, while another says young people aren’t as likely to have a farmer in the family.
While the demand for California-grown melons is high, farmers say getting those melons to the nation’s tables has faced multiple challenges this season. These include a statewide drought impeding water deliveries; excessive heat reducing yields; a shortage of skilled on-farm employees and truck drivers; and a shortage in supplies such as pallets, bins and cardboard. The San Joaquin Valley’s west side and the Imperial Valley provide 75% of the nation’s commercially grown melons.
When selecting employees, agricultural companies say that soft skills like a strong work ethic, good communication, time management and dependability are just as important as technical know-how, according to a recent survey by California State University, Fresno. Agriculture industry knowledge was the only technical skill that was on the top 10 skills listed as most important.
(Source: California Farm Bureau Federation)