Drought Update: Vegetable Farmers Hit Hard

August 6, 2012

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3 Responses to “Drought Update: Vegetable Farmers Hit Hard”

  1. rayduray Says:

    OFF TOPIC, sorta (This is more about food prices than about climate, per se)

    This morning NPR reported that vegetable, fruit and nut crops in California are all being impacted not by bad weather but by labor shortages. Seeking the transcript on that item I came across something from McClatchy that discusses the issue in much more depth.

    Here’s the McClatchy report on why, in my estimation, produce prices are going to go through the roof soon:

    http://businessmirror.com.ph/home/global-eye/29567-fewer-workers-cross-border-creating-us-farm-labor-shortage

    [COPY]

    In California farmers are reporting labor shortages of 30 percent to 40 percent, said Bryan Little, the director of labor affairs for the California Farm Bureau Federation. He said some cherry growers had left acres unpicked because they didn’t have enough workers.

    “Generally, what I hear is that if you need 10 crews to harvest 40 acres of strawberries, you only have seven,” he said. “If you need a crew of 10 people, then you only have six or seven. It varies, depending on where you are in the state.”

    The problem is particularly tough for small farms that need work crews for only a few days. Even though 60 percent of hired farm labor works on farms with annual sales of less than $1 million, most field pickers would rather work for weeks or months at a time on larger farms, said Manuel Cunha, the president of the Nisei Farmers League in Fresno, California.

    “They’re not going to leave their full-time growers to work for a day or two on the small farms, so a lot of fruit isn’t getting picked,” Cunha said. “The shortage is tight, and it’s getting tighter.”

    Border patrol agents no longer pose the biggest risk for Mexican workers who cross the US border illegally, Cunha said. Drug cartels and human traffickers now prey on illegal immigrants, forcing them to transport drugs and kidnapping their relatives to make sure they comply.

    “They are told, ‘You will carry this or you’re gone,’” Cunha said. “It’s no more, ‘Would you like to try this?’”

    Traffickers and smugglers also have entered the labor-contracting industry. They force groups of newly arrived illegal immigrants to work certain jobs against their will and then steal from their paychecks. To avoid them, many undocumented workers simply stay in America after the harvest season.

    “Workers won’t go home, and the workers that do go home will not come back because they’re afraid,” Cunha said.

    The problems have exacerbated spot shortages of migrant workers all across the nation.

    [End Copy]

    ***
    Ray again. These labor shortages are being reported from coast-to-coast with the states enacting tough anti-immigrant laws, such as Arizona and Georgia, being the most likely to suffer labor shortages.

  2. rayduray Says:

    NPR reporting the Des Moines River is 97 degrees F. (36 degrees C,) today:

    http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=158232649&m=158237429

    This seems completely weird and unprecedented to me.

    Here’s a historical record of river temperatures http://tinyurl.com/c3vmjl5 for the Des Moines River at Saylorville, IA showing a maximum average water temp on two days of any year going back a couple decades of 86 degrees F. (30 degrees C.).


  3. [...] italiani come agli americani intanto, la maggior frequenza degli eventi estremi costerà parecchio e lo sanno [...]


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