Entries tagged with: Ag Labor

Washington apple growers short of workers

Washington apple growers short of workers

While much of the nation has a shortage of apples this season due to the spring freezes, Washington state is having a banner crop. The surplus is creating a serious problem for the state’s apple growers, however, as they struggle to find enough labor. Apples are the state’s top farm commodity, generating about $7 billion annually and supporting nearly 60,000 jobs in growing and processing, according to the Washington Apple Commission (WAC). October is the peak…  » Read more

United Farm Workers alleges illegal tactics in Corralitos Farms election

The United Farm Workers is challenging the results of an election for union representation at Corralitos Farms LLC. The UFW, on the losing side when more than 350 farmworkers cast ballots Sept. 19 in Watsonville and Salinas, alleges the berry grower engaged in illegal activity in the days leading up to the vote. A lawyer for Corralitos Farms declined to comment Thursday, saying the company had not received the complaint. According to a statement released…  » Read more

New apple harvester unveiled in United Kingdom

A mechanical apple harvesting aid that could save growers more than 35% on labour costs made its debut in Chatham-Kent Tuesday. The $80,000 machine, manufactured in Spain, attracted the attention of several fruit farmers from the Cedar Springs area as well as from neighbouring Essex County. Werner Zurbuchen of Tazu Technology Fruit and Farm Equipment of Waterford, said the machines are in widespread use in Europe and South America. He said the fruit-picking machines with…  » Read more

Strawberry workers say no to UFW bid: Secret ballot held at Watsonville and Salinas ranches

Strawberry workers at Corralitos Farms have rejected a bid for representation by the United Farm Workers. The results of the secret ballot election, held Wednesday at Wilder Ranch in Watsonville and Salinas Airport Ranch in Monterey County, were announced Friday by the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board. The tally was 187 against and 154 in favor, with 99 percent of workers employed during the week of Sept. 3-9 casting ballots, according to the board. Nineteen…  » Read more

Bitter harvest: U.S. farmers blame billion-dollar losses on immigration laws

Ralph and Cheryl Broetje rely on roughly 1,000 seasonal workers every year to grow and pack more than 6 million boxes of apples on their farm along the Snake River in eastern Washington. It’s a custom they’ve maintained for over two decades. Recently, though, their efforts to recruit skilled labor, mostly undocumented immigrants, have come up woefully short despite intensive recruitment efforts in an area with high rates of unemployment. The Broetjes and an increasing…  » Read more

Shriveled Mich. apple harvest means fewer jobs, tough year ahead

An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but what do you do when there are no apples? It's a question western Michigan's apple growers are dealing with this season after strange weather earlier in the year decimated the state's apple cultivation. Michigan is the third-largest apple producer in the U.S. after New York and Washington, but the state's apples will soon be in short supply. Now in the middle of harvest season, growers…  » Read more

‘Armed to Farm’ gives veterans the tools they need to farm

For many military veterans and their families, the transition from the military to civilian life is a complex undertaking; however, reports and personal accounts indicate that many military veterans have discovered that farming offers a place for employment, training and healing.  The problem is there are few educational programs tailored to meet the particular needs and abilities of returning veterans. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) makes…  » Read more
Ohio family grows with the market

Ohio family grows with the market

Three farms. Four thousand acres. Thirty-five commodities grown. Another 30 or so bought from other growers. Those numbers give a sense of the size and complexity of Buurma Farms, based in Willard, Ohio. In the busy season, Buurma Farms, which also has growing operations in Michigan and Georgia, ships between 15,000 and 25,000 packages of produce a day. Destinations range from Boston to Miami, and as far west as the Mississippi River (occasional radish shipments…  » Read more

Workers needed for state’s second-largest apple crop

Every Washington apple is removed from the tree by hand. And this year, there may not be enough hands for all the apples. Though statewide hail damage cut into what had promised to be the state's largest apple crop, it is expected to be the state's second largest. And most of the other apples still will be picked for processing -- if growers can find the workers. "Indications are that everybody's on the edge and…  » Read more

‘Extraordinary’ fruit crop loss hits farmers, migrant workers where it hurts

Farmers and fruit growers in West Michigan are concerned about the small crop coming up in the fall and the impact these dismal numbers will have when it comes to migrant workers, packagers and an entire industry. Apple and peach crops were almost lost this year due to extremely warm weather in March and two frosts in April. Scott Wells, owner of Wells Orchard in Grand Rapids, said he's expecting less than a 1 percent…  » Read more
Growers are getting more choices in ag GPS

Growers are getting more choices in ag GPS

  Most farmers have a basic familiarity with global positioning systems (GPS) technology. In agriculture, GPS is used to plant and harvest crops and increase efficiency. Picking the right system depends on how accurate you want to be. RTK The current standard system used by agriculture, land surveying and hydrographic surveying is Real Time Kinematic (RTK), also referred to as carrier-wave enhanced GPS. Using base stations and receivers, RTK is common in planting and harvest…  » Read more

Farm bureau and state officials blast ‘heavy handed’ federal labor investigations

In late July, investigators with the U.S. Department of Labor visited three blueberry farms in Marion County and announced finding "widespread" record-keeping and minimum wage violations at each. Farm labor law investigations are often contentious, especially involving fruit pickers working on a "piece rate" basis rather than an hourly wage. But these cases took an unusual turn as the labor department's Wage and Hour Division staff in Portland dropped the hammer. In a move Oregon's…  » Read more

California approves bill allowing farm workers to enforce heat regulations

  The California Senate approved a bill allowing farm workers to sue employers who repeatedly fail to comply with mandatory shade and drinking water requirements as spelled out under the state’s labor law. Since California issued the first heat regulation in the nation to prevent farm workers from dying of extreme heat in 2005, 16 farm workers have died from heat related illnesses. The deaths of two farm workers this summer are being investigated by…  » Read more