The agricultural labor market is especially problematic this year, as other industries also struggle to find workers. Labor issues are nothing new for agriculture. However, shortages affecting all segments of the economy are compounding traditional farm labor challenges. Agricultural labor supplies also began to tighten up earlier than normal this year. The labor trends are creating worry about the more labor-intensive parts of the season.
Despite the concerning labor market early on, Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO, Ryan Jacobsen said the extent of the labor constraints has caught many off guard. Jacobsen described the ag labor pool for this year as “extraordinarily concerning.” The increased employment opportunities in areas other than agriculture is one potential reason why the farm labor outlook is especially dismal this year.
“Our assumption is that we’ve had migration of historical agricultural employees over to these other segments of the economy. As we know, the overall economy has a great shortage of workers out there right now,” Jacobsen noted. “We can sit here and try to figure out what’s going on, but nevertheless, it’s shaping up to be what I would think to be one of the tightest years in the last 10 to 15.”
Listen to the radio report below.