Farmers Say They’ve Got Fruit but No Labor
In Washington state, migrants increasingly pass up apple orchards for better-paying jobs.
YAKIMA, Wash. — While much of the country frets about too many illegal
immigrants, farmers in this famed apple-growing region east of the
Cascade Range complain they can no longer find enough.
the last two years, Yakima-area apple growers were so short of the
migrant field hands they rely on to prune and pick their prized crop
that a few brought in workers from Thailand.
Others said they never did find enough workers and watched in anguish as precious fruit was left dangling on trees.
summer, with farmers expecting a bountiful apple crop, they also
predict that the worker shortage will worsen, threatening a
hand-harvesting industry valued at more than $1.5 billion in Washington
state. In the last big-crop year, growers employed an estimated 42,300
seasonal apple workers, according to state officials.