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Survey Shows Chronic Employee Shortages On California Farms

Across California, farmers and ranchers face persistent problems in finding and hiring qualified and willing people to work in agriculture, according to a survey conducted by the California Farm Bureau Federation.

The informal survey of Farm Bureau members showed that more than half of responding farmers had experienced employee shortages during the past year. The figure was higher — 69 percent — among farmers who need to hire employees on a seasonal basis. The results are similar to a survey CFBF conducted in 2012.

“Despite all the efforts California farmers and ranchers have made to find and hire people to work on their operations, they still can’t find enough willing and qualified employees,” CFBF President Paul Wenger says.

When asked what actions they have taken in response to employee shortages, farmers participating in the survey most frequently cited increased wages, benefits and additional incentives. Farmers also reported they had used, attempted or investigated mechanization; reduced cultivation activities, such as pruning trees and vines; and either planted fewer acres or left some crops unharvested.

Improve Immigration Program
Wenger says he expects farmers to continue offering higher wages and moving toward mechanization, but the survey results underline the need for action by Congress to improve the existing agricultural immigration program.

“Only 3 percent of the farmers in our survey said they had used the existing H-2A agricultural immigration program,” Wenger says. “Even though more farmers have tried it, H-2A remains too cumbersome for most. Farmers in California and elsewhere in the country need an improved system to allow people to enter the United States legally to work on farms and ranches.”

Farmers have been forthright about their reliance on a largely immigrant workforce, he says, noting that efforts to hire U.S.-born employees on farms have remained unsuccessful. Wenger says Farm Bureau and other organizations would continue to work with Congress to create “a secure, flexible, market-based agricultural immigration program.”

NMF&LB Announces Details For Annual Meeting
The New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau will hold its 100th Annual Meeting Nov. 16-18 at Hotel Encanto, Las Cruces, New Mexico. The organization invites NMF&LB members to attend the event, which includes educational sessions, camaraderie with fellow members and the Awards Banquet.
Lyndy Phillips will deliver the keynote speech Thursday, Nov. 16, at 1:15 p.m. He describes himself as a humorist, comedy magician and speaker from Dallas, Texas.

A partial listing of other presenters for Thursday and Friday includes Matthew Gonzales, NMF&LB government affairs director; Kayloa Hinrichs, Extension agent, Lea County; Jeff McCoy, Pacific Legal Foundation; and Timothy Van Valen, tax attorney.

The Youth Ranch Management Camp top Hand Winner will be announced Friday morning at 9. And the Discussion Meet Final Four will be named at 11:15.

Several awards will be presented during the annual banquet held at 6 p.m., Friday. Among them are Distinguished Service to Ag and Farm Family of the Year. The banquet concludes with a dance, featuring Delk Band.

The State Board and County Presidents’ Meeting will begin Saturday morning at 7. The Adoption of Policy Resolutions follows at 8:30.

To register, see the full agenda and obtain hotel information, go to www.nmflb.org and click on NMF&LB 100th Annual Meeting.

New PhytoGen Pima Variety Added To 2018 Lineup
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PhytoGen also offers several other Pima and Acala cottonseed varieties to help growers thrive in cotton.
Go to PhytoGen.com for a complete listing of PhytoGen brand Pima and Acala varieties, or join the conversation on Facebook (PhytoGen) and Twitter (@PhytoGenCotton).