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David Sparks Ph.d Workforce 2
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Idaho Ag Today
Date: April 17, 2018

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With the agricultural labor force for American farms and ranches, hired workers are mostly foreign-born and primarily from Mexico. As the 2018 Farm season gets underway, we are all aware that these foreign workers are in short supply. This is a situation that is getting way too common and creating change on farm operations. At Williamson Orchards and Vineyards in the Sunnyslope region of southern Idaho, owner Michael Williamson says he is adjusting to the manpower shortage in a few different ways. Looking long term, Williamson is changing up growing systems in preparation for future application of new innovations. “We are changing up a lot of our growing systems so they can be ready when the price point comes. There are some that are close and we are going to Save some money. There are a couple of devices and attachments that maybe next year we will purchase so that we can streamline a lot of our operations and get them done with the machines so that we don’t have to spend that labor money.” Idaho Farm Bureau Pres. Brian Searle, who raises potatoes, says his farmer friends will continue to work through the shortage. “Very tight. People are having a hard time finding people. I wish we could see better movement in Congress but I think people are reaching out. There are more users of the H2A program that I am aware of so people are trying to figure it out.” As Williamson is doing with a lingering concern about harvest time. “When we are in a harvest type situation and it’s got to get done like in the next three days, that’s where I really feel the pressure and that’s where I feel the pinch as far as getting the work done.

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