Friday, September 18, 2020


Home Archive Jobs Continue to go Unfilled, Farmers Report

Jobs Continue to go Unfilled, Farmers Report

by: California Farm Bureau Federation

As Congress grapples with how to reform the nation’s immigration system, California farmers and farm labor contractors say they remain unsure whether they will be able to hire enough seasonal employees for harvest and for important cultural practices.

To learn about the scope of on-farm labor shortages and where the impacts are occurring, the California Farm Bureau Federation has been conducting an online survey of its members. So far, according to CFBF Director of Labor Affairs Bryan Little, trends look similar to a survey conducted last year, when more than two-thirds of respondents said they experienced challenges finding enough employees to help tend and harvest crops.

“The CFBF survey will give us important information to use to convince policymakers in Washington to act on immigration reform,” said Little, who also serves as chief operating officer for the Farm Employers Labor Service.

The U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive immigration-reform bill in late June, including agricultural provisions supported by Farm Bureau, other farm organizations and labor unions. Last week, House Republicans said they would not seek to pass a comprehensive bill but would consider a series of separate immigration-reform measures.

Meanwhile, farmers responding to the Farm Bureau survey say they continue to have trouble finding qualified help.

San Joaquin County winegrape grower Brad Goehring, who is also a farm labor contractor, said he had experienced up to 50 percent shortages in hiring seasonal workers, especially when harvest of other crops siphoned off employees.

“During the two-month period at cherry season, we just didn’t have labor available to do what we needed to be doing out in the vineyards. I could have used another 300 to 400 workers during that time,” Goehring said. “A lot of people who normally wouldn’t call me as a (farm labor contractor) were calling me, just desperate for anybody. I could have put 400 more workers to work, easily.”

For Goehring and other winegrape growers, May and June were challenging months to find employees. With a smaller pool of workers, Goehring and many of his fellow growers had to delay cultural practices such as suckering and shoot thinning of winegrapes.

“We haven’t been able to shoot-thin all of the vineyards that we would have liked,” Goehring said. “The ones we do shoot-thin, by the time we’re done our costs have increased from $100 to around $300 an acre, because the more the vines grow, the harder it is to shoot-thin.”

He said he has had to delay certain vineyard practices and, although the practices are being accomplished so far, “our costs are higher because of lack of labor and getting into the vineyards to do the work in a timely manner.”

Nancy Fowler-Johnson, president and general manager of Fowler Nurseries Inc. in Newcastle, said her business has experienced a shortage of employees for the past two years.

“Right now, we can’t get enough staff. They are just not there,” Fowler-Johnson said. “We could have used an additional 12 to 14 people starting at the end of April through the remainder of the season.”

With nut crops doing well and more trees planted each year, Fowler-Johnson reported having to turn away sales this year because she could not hire enough skilled employees to care for the products in the way that she would like.

“We never had a real shortage until last year, and it is worse this year. And it is about finding people who are skilled,” she said.

To remain competitive, Fowler-Johnson said she is going to “continue to look at how to grow trees differently, what methods can be optimized, and wages.”

“There’s a point in time where I still need to be competitive,” she said. “We are interested in learning how to become more mechanized and how we can do things differently.”

Farmers of a variety of labor-intensive crops have reported to the CFBF labor survey that they are experiencing problems finding enough employees, including winegrapes, tree fruit, nut crops, vegetables and nursery products. Growers of a number of other crops have also reported shortages.

The 2013 CFBF labor survey remains open and farmers may take part at

The Williams Pioneer Review has a small staff of one, covering all of Colusa County; but we’re proud to have the assistance of a large army of community contributors to extend our range and reach. This is one of those stories. If you have a story you would like to share, please email them to: or give us a call.

More News

Three killed on I-5 in two separate accidents 

Three people were killed on Interstate 5 in Colusa County over a five day period in two separate accidents.  A Yuba City couple were killed...

Coaches Corner: Dan Kiely

Soccer in Colusa County has a long history of competitive play and a major contributor to that tradition is Colusa High School boys’ soccer...

Garden Club Plant Sale

The Garden Club of Colusa County hosted their fall plant sale in the Davison Pavilion in Colusa on Saturday, Sept. 8. The event, which...

First Patriot Day ceremony held at Williams Elementary School

Students who attend Williams Elementary School were not alive 19 years ago when hijackers used airplanes as weapons of destruction to kill nearly 3,000...

Distance learning raises questions about home imagery

Editors Note: The article has been updated from the print version to correct the spelling of Tiffany Sines. Distance learning seems to be more challenging...

Local Government

County appoints new Airport Advisory Committee

The Colusa County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 1 appointed seven members to the newly restructured Airport Advisory Committee. The previous committee of about 15...

Colusa Police Department: July 2020

The City of Colusa Police Department responded to 382 calls for service, up from 311 in June. There were an additional 31 calls to...

City of Colusa adopts strategy for economic development

The Colusa City Council last week adopted the final Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, a report that will serve as a roadmap intended to diversify...

Public & Legal Notices

FICTITIOUS BUSINESS NAME STATEMENT FILE NO. 2020-0000072 Date filed: September 11, 2020 The following persons are doing business as: GULLATT RANCH Business Address: 6880 GREENBAY ROAD, ARBUCKLE, CA 95912 Mailing...

FICTITIOUS BUSINESS NAME STATEMENT FILE NO. 2020-0000071 Date filed: September 1, 2020 The following persons are doing business as: C & C ENGINEERING Business Address: 2081 LONE STAR ROAD,...

Notice of Lien Sale

NOTICE OF LIEN SALE SEPTEMBER 20, 2020 AT 5:00 PM 423 SIOC STREET, COLUSA, CA 95932 8’  3’ GOLD WING 09/16/2020 • WPR #2020-1142


CIUDAD DE COLUSA AVISO DE AUDIENCIA PÚBLICA AVISO SE DA A LA PRESENTE QUE la Comisión de Ciudad de Colusa y  Planificación llevará a cabo un...


CITY OF COLUSA NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the City of Colusa and Planning Commission will hold public workshop on Wednesday, September...