Peach harvest suffers from shortage of pickers | News
MARYSVILLE, CA - There are plenty of peaches for the harvest in Yuba and Sutter counties, but pickers are in short supply.
"This year has been the toughest year," Johl Company farmer Sarb Johl said. "Usually, each year the migrant workers show up. This year we keep thinking maybe they'll show up tonight, they'll be here tomorrow morning. Nobody's really showing up yet."
Johl speculates tougher immigration policies may be stopping the flow of workers from Mexico, and the Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau adds the danger migrants are facing from the violent drug cartels.
Whatever the reason, they're not coming and while it's not a real problem here at the beginning of the harvest, it could turn into one if the situation stays the same for the next couple of weeks.
"Once we get into the peak season, we must harvest at least twice what we're harvesting now," Johl said.
Withe the unemployment rate at 18 percent in Sutter County and 17.5 percent in Yuba County, you'd think there'd be a lot of area residents clamoring for the jobs.
"I wish they would," Johl said, "If you could get 17 percent to come out and work, it would definitely help. But those are the people (who) aren't used to working in the field. They'd rather draw unemployment."
In Johl's opinion, the answer would be for Congress to approve some sort of guest worker program that would let people enter the country to do the jobs they're needed for and then, when the season is over, return to their homes in Mexico.
In the meantime, for anybody in the area who doesn't have a job and would be up for picking peaches, there is work available.
By Jonathan Mumm, firstname.lastname@example.org