Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sad news

Last year this time I read a story similiar to the one I'll talk about. It concerns me quite a lot.

Pear growers may have to leave part of their crop unpicked because of the lack of harvest help in Lake and Mendocino counties of California. Farmers report they have only been able to hire about half the workers they need and the problem has worsened because recent weather caused pears to ripen faster, reported California Farm Bureau Federation.

This is the kind of struggle California farmers are having with their farms. It is the kind of struggle that makes them sell their land and allow homes to built on farmland. After years and years of trying to grow a decent crop, make a little money, and do it all over again next year, this is how they end up. Fighting to put food on their own table, much less ours.

I am not sure why the farms are having difficulty hiring but I can think of a couple:
One. the cost of living in Mendocino county is high. The average home is $425,000 as of Sept 2006. I am not sure how many migrant workers can own a home in that area. That would mean workers would have to commute to pick fruit. That's why they call them migrant workers, so I get that. However, gasoline costs have skyrocketed in California, currently it's $2.93 a gallon for regular gas. If you have to comute an hour a day, that's a lot of gas cost diminishing a simple paycheck. To have people harvest crops it must be worth the cost to them also.
Two. The immigration issue facing Californians and the southwest. The immigration probelm has put pressure on the migrant that comes from Mexico to work the harvest season and go home. There must be a system in place to allow this to happen. These people aren't looking for citizenship, they're looking to make a decent paycheck and go home. There must be a solutionto this problem.
Three. The construction industry is taking many of the men out of the harvest. It pays much better than a field hand can make. Then the restaurant industry takes it's portion also. It pays about the same as a field worker makes, there is less travel and a different kind of hard work involved.

I can't imagine how disappointing it must be to bring a crop to harvest and then have to watch it fall to the ground spoiled because you couldn't find people willing to work to get it to market. I am not sure I'd do it two years in a row.

All of these reasons contribute to the lack of workers to harvest crops. It will have an impact on comsumers. Cost, will be where it plays out. Then worst case scenario is lack of product. It becomes much more expensive and then in short supply. Can we find a solution? I hope so. So much for the cost of pears!