Farm Labor Shortage May Drive Produce Prices Higher

DanIndustry News Release

labor shortageAdding guacamole to your favorite foods may soon become more expensive. Food and Wine Dot Com says a package of almonds may become pricier as well. As California farmers welcomed the end of a serious drought this spring, a serious labor shortage is becoming another issue to deal with. California is where the bulk of the nation’s produce is grown and there aren’t enough workers to harvest those crops. Immigrant labor makes up 90 percent of the nation’s workforce that picks American crops. The immigrant population has gotten smaller in recent years as the government deported three million undocumented immigrants between 2009 and 2016. A loss of enough potential employees could force farmers to leave between 15 and 20 percent of their crops in the ground. This means lower farm income as well as lower numbers of produce on grocery store shelves. Produce is more sensitive to price changes than other crops because it’s much harder to preserve, especially compared to commodities like corn and grain. California lettuce farmers were actually hit hard by those spring rains that ended the drought, accidentally drowning their lettuce crops. The only silver lining is vegetable prices haven’t risen significantly yet, even though fruit prices have.

From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting News Service.