Pear Growers Are Having A Tough Time


Labor Shortages Challenging Industry

By Patrick Cavanaugh

“We’re not seeing anything that we did not expect this year in terms of labor shortages,” said Bryan Little, Labor Relations, California Farm Bureau Federation in Sacramento.

Little said that labor is running about 30 percent short, about like it did last season.

“We saw the first shortages were with the cherry harvest this spring , but since the cherry crop was light, the labor shortage was not so evident,” Little said.

Currently, pear producers in the Delta and in Lake County are seeing some shortages, which is causing some strong-arming from harvesters. Usually, packinghouses want pears picked for size. Workers are demanding to get in and get out, by stripping all the fruit from the trees and get paid. “In this situation pear growers do not have many options,” said Little.

No word at this time on how the raisin industry is fairing, as the harvest has just begun.

In the Salinas Valley there are about 30 percent down as well. Growers there are making daily decisions on whether or not to pay overtime to harvest a field.

“If you have a field of cabbage and you need to get it out for the marketplace then an economic decision must be made. Use the limited workers and pay overtime, or disk the field under,” said Little.

California Farm Bureau Federation is continuing their online labor survey this season. Growers are encouraged to take the survey. http://www.cfbf.com/employmentsurvey/

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