The agricultural landscape of the Coachella Valley has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. Managing Partner of Prime Time International, Mike Way said that is has been disappointing to watch growers leave the area over the years. Based in Coachella, Prime Time International is a year-round supplier of bell peppers and also grows winter vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and artichokes. Way said that lower costs of production in other areas have led many producers to leave Coachella.
“The grape business went from about 10.5 million cartons to this year – they just finished this week harvesting – it will be about 1.9 million. So, you’re looking at about eight million boxes difference,” Way explained. Vegetable production in the area has also followed a downtrend, with many producers moving operations into other areas like Yuma, Arizona. “Yuma is a 2.5-hour drive and it’s about $1.50 a box less to produce any item there due to the overtime laws. The labor in Yuma is different than it is in California and all the regulatory stuff we have to deal with. So, we’ve lost a lot of the agricultural community in the Coachella Valley.”
Listen to the radio report below.