August 14, 2005


Slim Pickings in Farm Labor Pool: Tighter borders and construction jobs that pay better are at the root of a shortage of workers willing to toil in the Central Valley fields. (Solomon Moore, August 14, 2005, LA Times)

The nectarine came off the branch with a rustle of leaves and a snap of the stem. The flesh was soft and light, with a tangy aftertaste that was only slightly sour.

It was a few days from being perfectly ripe — and that, said Central Valley labor contractor Fred Garza, was a problem. It might have been too ripe to make the market in time.

"The harvest started getting away from us. We should have 25 men here, but we only have six," Garza said while standing in a nectarine orchard last month.

"I've lost two jobs this season because I couldn't get people — any people," said Garza, who generally employs about 2,500 men. This summer, he has only 1,500 workers. "And I'm one of the largest labor suppliers around here. If I'm having trouble, everybody's having trouble."

California's farm labor contractors and growers said they struggle to find enough workers for the summer harvests because tougher border enforcement and competition from the booming construction industry and other sectors are shrinking agriculture's primary workforce: undocumented Mexican immigrants.

Shouldn't the natives be lining up to get these sweet jobs back?

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 14, 2005 9:13 AM

If the jobs paid more, they would line up. If the illegals were not there, the jobs would pay more.

Posted by: George at August 14, 2005 11:48 AM

What did they pay Okies?

Posted by: oj at August 14, 2005 11:50 AM


So let's just close the border and rack up the minimum wage to $30/hr. so we can all be rich.

Posted by: Peter B at August 14, 2005 11:53 AM

Right, consumers won't mind paying $4.50 for a lettuce if it's for a good cause......

Posted by: ed at August 14, 2005 1:26 PM

Woe is me. The poor whiny ludicrously subsidized farmers.

Posted by: Bartelson at August 14, 2005 1:57 PM

We can import nectarines grown elsewhere.

Posted by: carter at August 14, 2005 2:03 PM