California Growers Face New Contractor Rules

Len WilcoxCalifornia Corner, Labor

Citrus growers in California need to reevaluate their working relationships with independent contractors to ensure they follow new state regulations that redefine who is an independent contractor. Signed by California Gov. Newsom last fall, the new rules state that any worker is an employee unless the hiring entity can demonstrate that the worker is an independent contractor. The law becomes … Read More

Congressman Yoho Introduces Ag Guest Worker Bill

Tacy CalliesLabor, Legislative

As labor continues to be a top-priority issue for producers nationwide, Congressman Ted Yoho is aiming to lessen worries of a labor shortage by introducing a new ag guest worker bill. He discussed this new bill in a recent exclusive interview with AgNet Media’s Abbey Taylor. According to Yoho, the bill shies away from immigration and focuses solely on ensuring … Read More

H-2A Made Easier

Ernie NeffLabor

A panel discussion at Citrus Expo’s general session aimed to help make the federal H-2A foreign guest worker program a little easier for agriculturists to navigate. The panel included a grower representative who has used H-2A, a labor attorney who is an H-2A expert, and a federal Department of Labor (DOL) regional director. Natalie Gupton, director of business services and industry … Read More

Grower/Hedger Has Labor Concerns

Ernie NeffLabor


Discussions about citrus labor frequently focus on concerns about a shortage of harvesters and problems with the federal program that allows temporary foreign workers into Florida. But grower and hedger Frank Youngman recently voiced concern about a shortage of more skilled grove workers. Youngman said with tractors becoming “more technologically enhanced with GPS systems and so forth, we don’t have … Read More

Retaining High-Skilled Harvest Workers

Tacy CalliesLabor

By Skyler Simnitt, Gulcan Onel and Derek Farnsworth  In an environment where citrus is still mainly harvested by hand and skilled domestic workers are harder to employ, employers increasingly rely on the H-2A guest-worker program to establish and retain a reliable and efficient workforce. It is estimated that guest workers now account for 80 percent or more of all citrus … Read More

Navigating the H-2A Program

Tacy CalliesLabor

By Fritz M. Roka The number of H-2A foreign guest workers employed in Florida’s agricultural operations has grown from 4,400 in 2009 to nearly 23,000 by the start of the 2015 citrus harvesting season, more than a five-fold increase (Figure 1). More H-2A workers came to Florida in 2015 than to any other state. Industry leaders estimate that more than … Read More

H-2A Contracts, Costs and Considerations

Abbey TaylorLabor


By Jaci Shreckengost The H-2A program is a guest-worker program that allows people from other countries to come to the United States on a visa as agricultural employees for temporary, seasonal work. Many industries are beginning to use H-2A due to uncertainty over the domestic labor supply, says Fritz Roka, an associate professor of agriculture economics at the University of … Read More

Citrus Industry Participates in H-2A for Labor Needs

Abbey TaylorLabor

By Jaci Shreckengost Concern over availability of domestic employees in the United States has caused growers to change where they get their labor. Fritz Roka, associate professor of agriculture economics at the University of Florida’s Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee, says the uncertainty surrounding the immigration policies of the current United States administration has led growers to … Read More

Farm Labor Supervisor Training Coming in Fall

Ernie NeffLabor


Carlene Thissen, project coordinator for farm labor supervisor training at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee, discusses the training scheduled for this fall. “We have for the last five years offered training to farm labor supervisors,” Thissen says. “So basically the way we say it, regarding farm workers, we make their bosses better. And we make sure … Read More

Citrus Harvester Survey Reveals Changes in Labor Force

Tacy CalliesLabor

University of Florida researcher Gulcan Onel recently provided a first look at data she gathered from surveying 307 Florida citrus harvesters in 2016. She debuted her early research findings at the Florida Agricultural Policy Outlook Conference on February 9 at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center. While she noted that the data is still being further analyzed, she shared … Read More

Disease, Harvest Labor, Environment Big Issues in Gulf

Ernie NeffDiseases, Labor

Disease, Harvest, Environment

Gulf Citrus Growers Association (GCGA) Vice President Ron Mahan, who chaired a recent GCGA member lunch, discusses key issues facing the association. Mahan says the area’s number-one concern is disease pressure “and adjusting our management and growing practices to minimize disease impacts.” He notes that Florida is “going to be at one of our low points in production this year,” … Read More

Guest Workers: Past, Present and the Future

Josh McGillLabor

By Gülcan Önel and Derek Farnsworth The U.S. agricultural sector has a long history of dependence on foreign workers, and the Florida citrus industry is no exception. Even though mechanical harvesting systems saw increased usage between 1999 and 2006, the discovery of citrus greening in 2005 and its subsequent spread across Florida virtually eliminated mechanical harvesting efforts by 2015 in … Read More