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Most Calif. Farmers Say They Don’t Have Enough Workers To Pick Crops

Jason Rogers

Farmers-in-training lay irrigation lines on a farm plot in Yolo County

Jason Rogers

Most California farmers say they don’t have enough workers to pick the crops. Higher wages and mechanization haven’t been able to close the gap.

The California Farm Bureau conducted the survey which showed 70 percent of farmers experienced labor shortages. 

Yet many farmers in the survey say they have increased wages, benefits, and more year-round jobs. 

Tom Gotelli with OG Packing in Stockton says a large cherry crop this year could have used about 20 percent more workers at harvest. 

Gotelli says wages aren’t the problem. 

“Some of these good pickers, I’m not kidding, can make $200-$300 a day," he says. "We’ve got a couple of workers on a couple of ranches that will make $300 consistently a day if not a little bit more.” 

Gotelli says mechanization has helped reduce the need for labor in the packing shed but not in the orchard. 

The Farm Bureau is urging Congress to change the system to allow more people to enter the U.S. legally to work on farms and ranches.

The Bureau adds that only 3 percent of farmers use the present agricultural immigration program which most find to be too cumbersome.

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