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.

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