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Farm worker shortage in Monterey County

A growing farm worker shortage here...

SALINAS, Calif. - A new report shows thousands of farm jobs in Monterey County are not being filled.

A little more than 2,000 farm jobs have been lost within a year. Experts said the loss is because of policies and talk coming out of Washington.

"I have to stop. Making my small company grow larger,” said Owner of JSM Organics, Javier Zamora.

Local Farmer, Javier Zamora said he’s lost several employees as the labor shortage on the Central Coast continues to get worse. Local experts said the issue of farm jobs starts nationally.

"What's been coming out of Washington D.C. and the rhetoric related to immigrants and how they are perceiving that in the local community here,” said Monterey County Farm Bureau’s Executive Director, Norm Groot.

New state numbers show total farm employment down about 2,100 workers in just Monterey County in November 2017 compared to the same time in 2016.

Groot said the Trump administration immigration policy is a major reason why. Immigration workers both documented and undocumented are leaving.

"People leaving the area and going back to their home countries, or maybe just not showing up for work,” said Groot.

Zamora said, "Many of them have decided to go back to their native towns in Mexico and there's no way for them to come back, unfortunately. Lost several of them here in the area, including here. Some of mine, myself."

Even larger companies are downsizing getting ahead of a greater future labor shortage. And with fewer workers there's less food being farmed and costs will go up, said Zamora. 

Aside from immigration policy, Zamora said gas prices and labor costs, like increasing minimum wages can impact consumer costs. Right now, Zamora is concerned with weather because dry conditions mean pests go to green farm area. Also no rain means he has to pay for more water. 

 


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