California Farm Bureau Federation Releases Ag Labor Availability Survey

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The California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) released their 2017 agricultural labor availability survey results in a report titled Searching for Solutions: California Farmer Continue to Struggle with Employee Shortages. The report includes data from 762 farmers and ranchers throughout California and its findings are consistent with a 2012 CFBF labor survey.
The report shows that 55 percent of responding farmers experienced employee shortages during the summer of 2017. A majority of farmers reported that they were unable to recruit up to 50 percent of their seasonal workforce needs, with 15 percent reporting that they were unable to recruit more than half of their needed employees. 
Nearly 64 percent of respondents reported that they hire employees themselves and 51 percent reported using farm labor contractors. Many respondents use both direct hiring and labor contractors. Fewer than 3 percent reported to use the existing H-2A agricultural immigration program. CFBF noted that despite increases in the number of people employed through the H-2A program, the program provides only a small fraction of the labor force in California.
In response to the labor shortages, 29 percent of respondents attempted or investigated mechanization on their farms and ranches. A further third of the respondents elected not to engage in labor-intensive cultivation activities on their farms or ranches. 49 percent of the farmers and ranchers reported offering increased wages, benefits, and additional incentives to their employees to prevent employees accepting work elsewhere or leaving agriculture. 
The survey shows that farmers who produce crops that require fewer employees and use mechanization in their production generally have an adequate labor force. However, farmers who rely on peak season or labor-intensive practices continue to see labor shortages. 
For questions regarding the survey and report, please contact CFBF.