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Port Labor Dispute Hurts Citrus Crop

John Loo / Flickr
 

John Loo / Flickr

It's peak harvest season for California citrus, but lots of oranges and mandarins are sitting in warehouses, or spoiling on cargo ships because of the labor dispute at West Coast ports. 

Citrus packing houses throughout California are a lot quieter than usual.

Kevin Severns, the General Manager of Orange Cove-Sanger Citrus Association in Fresno County, says, "We simply are running lot fewer hours than we normally would. The people that work for us aren't able to put the hours in, and obviously they aren't getting paid nearly as well as they normally would." 

Severns says his workers usually clock about 60 hours a week this time of year, but many are only working about 30 hours a week.

He adds that his growers usually export about 1,000 carton container loads per week, but he says they are lucky to send out between 10 to 12. 

California Citrus Mutual -- the state's trade association -- says exports are off by about 65 percent.

Importers in China -- a top citrus destination -- are refusing fruit from Tulare County because it was taking 40 days to arrive instead of 20.

Slowdowns at the ports are also hurting other crops like almonds, walnuts and rice.