Farmers Say They’ve Got Fruit but No Labor

In Washington state, migrants increasingly pass up apple orchards for better-paying jobs.

Via LATimes.com

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.

During
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.

This
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.

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