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Harvest labor shortage

By: Jake Putnam
Published in Video on  September 02, 2019

GRANGEVILLE - Idaho farmers have just about completed the first harvests.

As expected the workers are scarce. Migrant workers are hard to find and competition for those workers is fierce. Wages are up across the board at a time when input costs are at the break-even point.

Martin Poxleitner started the canola harvest this past week. He has a small operation and only needs three workers but couldn't find the help he needs this year.

"One of our biggest challenges in agriculture is finding qualified workers to help us with seasonal work. We need them for three to four weeks out of the year and it's hard to get them to break away from their other jobs," said Poxleitner.

Across the Valley Eric Hasselstrom and wife Sheila of Winchester did double duty, driving trucks and combines to get their wheat harvest in.

"The labor issue is huge. Its getting to be where getting help for seasonal, let alone full time help is getting almost impossible. Today, kids and teachers are back to school and there are not people around to help so I had to park one of the combines so I could drive the truck," said Hasselstrom.

Farmers say its early in the season but already they're scrambling for workers. Wages are up for what workers they can find to work. Input costs are up and farmers are calling on Congress to pass immigration reform and extend a visa program to help fill these jobs.

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