Small growers impacted by labor shortage
Every year, thousands of employees are needed in Washington state to help harvest the fruit. Apple and cherry grower April Clayton says every year is there is a deficit, and the only thing helping that deficit is the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program.
April Clayton… “Here in Washington State, we have a 30,000 labor deficit every harvest season. So it's very critical :labor here. And if it wasn't for the H-2A system, we would not have enough people to harvest the fruit in Washington state.”
April’s husband Mike adds that the lack of labor puts smaller growers at a disadvantage.
Mike Clayton… “Every year for the last 10 years, labor has been short. So it's a challenge because the big corporations that we farm next to tend to pull a lot of people in. When they need workers, they raise their rates and they suck a lot of people from us. So it gets to be a challenge for the smaller growers to pay a competitive price to keep their people.”
This underscores the importance of legislation like the Farm Workforce Modernization Act to continue granting access to this critical agricultural labor force. This legislation was passed in the House in March, but remains held up in the Senate. Agricultural groups are urgently encouraging lawmakers to move the bill forward.