Agriculture

Farmers facing worker shortage and higher wages

Farmers talk worker shortage and...

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. - Tending to a crop of Napa cabbage is labor intensive and requires dedication. 

For more than 40 years Elias Gutierrez has let his work ethic speak for itself.  He like many others immigrated from Mexico to the U.S. for a better life and to pursue the American dream. Now, that dream is under threat.

"Some of them have lived their whole lives here, if they would go back to Mexico it would be like another world to them," says Gutierrez. 

Out on the fields at Talley Farms in Arroyo Grande, he works with other farm workers, most of them women. 

Some workers across the Central Coast live with a constant fear they could be deported. 

"It's painful thinking what's the future for them," says Carlos Sanchez. 

For Sanchez, America, is home. "I feel safer and better here than Mexico, my own country, why because over there I might die, I would be starving but here in the U.S., I won't starve because one way or another we survive here," he says. 

President Trump's crack down on immigration has amplified the fears some undocumented workers already have.  

"Can ICE agent come here to this field right now? Yes, their first stop would be at the field level and we would take them to the office and we would have to provide documentation within a certain amount of hours," says Ryan Talley. 

He is a third generation farmer and says labor shortage has been a problem for years now.

"There is a wage increase in the farm industry here locally due to the labor shortage," he says. 

Farm workers are either paid by the number of fruits and vegetables they're able to harvest over a certain period or are paid an hourly wage.

"Your average American, college educate individual is not willing to come out and work in the fields and we have seen that because we have advertised in papers," he says. 

Some farm workers are unsure what may happen next to them or their families, but,  they continue to look toward a brighter future.  

"I hope things improve and somebody does something to have a better life and more peace of mind to be in this beautiful country," says Sanchez. 


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