California Faces Labor Issues

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

California Ag Today recently had the chance to interview Alex Ott, Executive Director of the California Apple Commission, California Blueberry Commission, and the California Olive Committee. He said the apple harvest went well, but there are labor issues in California that will be affecting the industry in the future.

Alex Ott

There is a big concern regarding the ongoing labor issues. These issues don’t just affect apples and blueberries, but other commodities as well. The increased rules and regulations in California are one component to the decrease in labor.

“You have all of the new rules, whether it be mandatory increase in wages, that obviously inflate a lot of the other wages that are currently already in existence,” Ott said.

Another cause is that they have done away with the ag exemption overtime. With all of the stress following that change, the stress is put on the labor and in this type of situation, the labor decreases.

“I think it is a combination of a lot more increased enforcement of what is going on down at the border, and as a result, you see a lot of folks that just are not available to work,” Ott explained. “Many workers will decide to just not go to work. Not only is the stress on the labor, but the growers as well. If the grower does not increase what he is bringing in, it makes it very difficult to pay the increased costs.”