Program Provides Incentives to Address Labor Challenges

Josh McGillLabor

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced the Farm Labor Stabilization and Protection Pilot Program (FLSP). The new pilot grant program aims to improve food and agricultural supply-chain resiliency by addressing challenges agricultural employers face with labor shortages and instability.  “The program will provide incentives designed to simultaneously benefit workers and employers, with the potential to inform the H-2A …

Federal Omnibus Deal Fails to Include Farm Labor Act

Josh McGillLabor, Legislative

On Dec. 22, the U.S. Senate passed the omnibus appropriations bill. The $1.7 trillion measure would fund the federal government through the remainder of 2023. The measure now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote to avoid a government shutdown on the evening of Dec. 23. Much to the dismay of farm groups nationwide, the Senate Affordable …

Citrus Industry More Effective When Collaborative

Josh McGillCalifornia Corner, Events

By Danielle Leal The 2023 California Citrus Conference in Visalia proved collaboration is pivotal when tackling industry issues. The conference, hosted by California’s Citrus Research Board, had a lineup of industry leaders, researchers and others who updated growers on California’s citrus industry. Casey Creamer, president and chief executive officer of California Citrus Mutual, spoke on strengthening the connection between research …

H-2A Labor Program Amended

Josh McGillLabor, Regulation

The U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule to amend H-2A temporary labor certification regulations to better protect agricultural workers and to update the application and certification process. The final rule becomes effective Nov. 14, 2022. The H-2A program allows employers to address temporary labor needs by employing foreign agricultural workers when there are not sufficient workers who are …

Solution Sought for Lack of Australian Labor and Housing

Josh McGillInternational, Labor

Citrus Australia has asked Victorian Premier Dan Andrews to appoint a commissioner of horticultural labor and accommodation to manage solutions to a current horticulture crisis. Nathan Hancock, Citrus Australia’s chief executive officer, said extreme shortages in both labor and housing will get worse without direct intervention. “These issues (labor and housing shortages) are having a significant impact on the current and …

Grower and Researcher CUPS Collaboration

Josh McGillAll In For Citrus Podcast, CUPS, HLB Management

The spread of HLB in Florida citrus groves has forced growers and researchers to try all sorts of practices to fight off the disease’s devastating effects. One of the most successful methods has been planting citrus under protective screen (CUPS). The screen excludes the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and keeps HLB out of plantings. CUPS also is a great example …

Increased Labor Law Enforcement in Southeast

Josh McGillAgriculture, Labor, Regulation

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is continuing its multi-year education and enforcement initiative to increase compliance with federal labor laws in the Southeast’s agriculture industry. In addition to enforcement activity, the initiative provides compliance assistance to employers and educates workers and other stakeholders. The division and industry stakeholders in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, …

Water, Labor Boost Australia Crop

Ernie NeffInternational

Increased water availability and the expectation of more harvest labor, along with increased planting area, are reasons for the citrus crop forecast increase in Australia, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). FAS recently reported that the total planted area of navel and Valencia oranges in Australia has increased by 14% from 15,307 hectares (ha) in …

Florida Citrus Labor Contractors Penalized

Josh McGillLabor

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reported that three Arcadia citrus labor contractors failed to comply with the federal H-2A agricultural worker visa program, shortchanging employees $72,609 in total wages. The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division found that Benjamin M. Ramirez Harvesting Inc., AO Harvesting LLC and Gustavo Cisneros Harvesting Inc. failed to provide H-2A employees with at least three-quarters …

Ag Output and Labor Growth Projected

Ernie NeffLabor

Real output in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting labor sector is projected to grow at an annual rate of 2.3% from 2020 to 2030, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently reported. That’s slightly higher than the 2.2% annual growth rate projected for the entire U.S. economy. According to the report, the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector …

Ag Labor Reform Hindered by Regional Differences

Tacy CalliesLabor, Legislative

The issue of ag labor legislation reform will remain unresolved as long as southeastern growers and western growers don’t come to a compromise, says Bob Redding. Redding, who works for the Redding Firm and serves as a lobbyist for agricultural groups in Washington, D.C., believes compromise is the only way true reform will happen with such a contentious issue. “If …

Department of Labor Targeting Southeast Agriculture

Ernie NeffLabor

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is engaged in an education and enforcement initiative to increase compliance with federal labor laws in the Southeast’s agricultural industry. In addition to enforcement activity, the initiative provides compliance assistance to employers and educates workers and other stakeholders. The division is working with industry stakeholders in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, …

UF/IFAS Collaborates on HLB Research

Ernie NeffResearch

Several University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) faculty are collaborating with other universities and organizations on research, especially for HLB. Michael Rogers, director of the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC), summarizes the work they are doing on a variety of grant-funded projects. Rogers starts with a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-funded project led by …

COVID-19 and Farm Labor

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, Labor

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is encouraging growers to ensure that the farm labor contractors with whom they work pledge to implement COVID-19 workplace safety guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FDACS issued an addendum to be signed by farm labor contractors (see here) and a training acknowledgment form to be signed …

Labor Ban Costs Australia Growers Millions

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, International, Labor

On July 27, Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock said a ban on citrus workers entering New South Wales (NSW) is costing growers $1.7 million a day. Hancock has urged NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to consult with industry and cancel the ban that is keeping out seasonal harvesters. The restriction on harvesters entering NSW was instituted to curtail the spread of …

Harvesting Labor a Concern

Ernie NeffLabor

Harvesting labor availability has reportedly been adequate so far this season for the Florida citrus industry. However, it could become an issue as some foreign workers under the federal H-2A program leave to work in other industries or to harvest other crops. Several Florida citrus growers and association executives recently addressed the labor situation. “As our season winds down, it …

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California and Florida Collaborate on HLB Research

Len WilcoxCalifornia Corner, HLB Management, Research

University of California, Riverside (UCR) professor Georgios Vidalakis recently provided an update on the state of California citrus for researchers in Florida. Vidalakis is a noted professor and Extension specialist in UCR’s Microbiology and Plant Pathology Department. Among other honors, he was recently named Presidential Researcher for Sustainable Citrus Clonal Protection. Vidalakis pointed out that California has benefited greatly from …

labor

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 …

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 …

labor

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 …