Florida tomato growers are meeting this week in Naples for their annual conference. One of their big concerns is a shortage of workers. In the wintertime, almost every tomato eaten in the United States is grown in Florida. At the height of harvest, the industry employs about 50-thousand workers. But since a crackdown on illegal immigrants, growers are concerned they won’t find enough help to pick their multi-million dollar crops. Reggie Brown is executive vice president of the industry-trade group ‘Tomato Exchange’.
“During that period of harvest, we need large numbers of workers to accomplish that task. There is concern we may or may not have sufficient labor available to accomplish that task. And if we don’t, it will be a disastrous experience for the industry.”
More Florida-based growers have begun to use the federal guest worker program. In exchange for guaranteed help, it costs growers more money because they must provide housing and transportation to their workers in this country legally. The tomato industry is worth an estimated one-billion dollars to the Florida economy.
Friday, 08 September 2006 01:00
Farm Worker ShortageWritten by WGCU Newsroom