Farmers worried about farm worker shortage as the busy season approaches

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The huge demand for workers is still two months away at the start of summer harvest. Competition among farmers could be stiff. (KFSN)

The buzz of pollination and return of migrant farm workers marks a busy time for the Central Valley. But for farmer Joe Del Bosque of Los Banos springtime hiring has been slow.

"We have to send people literally out looking for farm workers."

The huge demand for workers is still two months away at the start of summer harvest. Competition among farmers could be stiff.

"We may not have an abundance of fruits and vegetables that we've seen in the past. It may even contribute to higher produce prices," said Del Bosque.

It could be in part to a drop in illegal border crossings which, compared to 2016, dropped more than 60-percent last month.

Del Bosque said because it is getting harder and more expensive for undocumented farm workers to come over illegally. So he's turned to the jobless to take on the back-breaking work.

"When we start harvesting melons in July it's already hot and if people go out there and it's 100 degrees people get discouraged. Usually they don't-- a lot of them just say this is too much I'll look somewhere else or I'll go on unemployment."

In Mendota, Mayor Rolando Castro estimates migrant farm workers make up about 30-percent of the population. He said fear of deportation is causing a decline in revenue for the local economy.

"People are not putting money in the bank like they used to because they're worried how they are going to get it out if something happens."

But the full effect of the Trump administration's hard line policies on immigration could still be yet to come. Del Bosque said they will know in June when the real money is made.
Related Topics:
societyagriculturemerced countyfresno countyLos BanosMendota
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