Labor Revisions Pt 2

Labor Revisions Pt 2

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
From the Ag Information Network, I’m Bob Larson with today’s Fruit Grower Report. Labor challenges for growers could get worse with new, inadequate revisions to the H-2A visa program.

Northwest Hort Council Senior Vice President, Kate Tynan says whether it’s the new overtime laws or finding enough bodies, the challenges have been growing …

TYNAN … “We could see ahead the situation where labor costs and labor shortages were going to become so acute that it was going to force growers out of business, and these last five years, that’s really come to fruition, and it’s really been escalating at higher rates.”

And wages, Tynan says continue to climb …

TYNAN … “Since 2017, we have seen the AWER withing the H-2A program go up 30%, and that was between 2017 and 2021. So, that was before inflation hit the rest of the economy and, you know, labor constitutes 60 to 70% of a grower’s input costs and that’s a really big jump to absorb. So, yes, we’re already seeing it and I’m afraid we’re going to continue to see it if there aren’t some changes made.”

But, Tynan says it’s not easy getting that message through to regulators …

TYNAN … “However, one of our big challenges, I think, is that the labor shortages that we’re seeing out here are worse at this time than you’re seeing in a lot of other regions of the country. I think they’re moving in that direction, but their concerns are not as immediate or acute right now as we are facing here.”

Tynan says, we’re disappointed, because most of the changes make the regulatory and financial burden worse on H-2A users.

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