On its Sunday; June, 27 2021 show “CBS Sunday Morning” ran a segment entitled “Down on the farm: A shortage of agricultural labor” that took a look at an issue very close to our hearts at the Warwick Area Farmworker Organization. One that is taking place all across the United States of America– a severe shortage of agriculture labor on the family run farming operations across the country. The segment summary is described as:
If you like to eat, you can thank a farm worker, among the hardest-working, lowest-paid, yet most vital workers in America. Correspondent Luke Burbank talks with Shay Myers, a third-generation Oregon farmer who feels it’s important that agricultural workers get their due.
While the farm in the segment is in Oregon, the challenges it is seeing are being seen in every state including New York. There are not enough agricultural labors to harvest, grow, and maintain the fields of our farms in America. This is particularly a challenge for family owned operations that have traditionally relied for generations dating back to the early 1900s on migrant farm labor. Every family owned farm in the US is seeing this issue and they all say the same thing: there are not enough people willing to work the fields and the ones who used to cannot get to the farms to do that work because of issues at the border preventing them from doing so.
Farmer owners and operators have upped their salaries trying to attract local job seekers and as you will see in the segment– still only a few come and most never return after a single day of labor. Farmer Shay Myers talks about how he, like most farmers in America, have always relied on migrant farmworkers like those supported through our programs. These migrant farmworkers have changed in origin and background over the past century and half, but consistently they have always been people seeking opportunity through hard work. Work others simply do not want to do.
Shay Meyers explains how his laborers are more than workers though– they are like extended family. He builds a relationship with them. Farmworkers become farm production managers and in some case those managers become farm owners or operators themselves. It is a story we at the Warwick Area Farmworkers Organization know all too well. Migrant farmworkers are hard workers that farmers value for their labor and changes in immigration law have severely impacted the workers ability to get to the farms they have worked for in some cases generations.
You can see the segment via YouTube below:
If you would like to support programs that help migrant farmworkers and their families, you can do so by donating to our programs here.
Thank you for your continued support of farmworkers, their families, and in turn the many people in the local community who benefit from having local sources of food readily available through our farms and agricultural operations throughout the area.