In 2012, Leitz could find only about 180 of the 240 workers he would typically use.
Leitz said his farm is cutting acreage this year because of last year’s labor shortages.
“We didn’t get about 30% of our tomatoes and the same way with cucumbers in 2013, and we left some apples,” he said. “Going into 2014, we are going to cut back some acreage; we are going to plant rye and cover crops and just see what happens.”
The core of migrant farm workers returning to work at his farm has shrunk by about 25% in the last couple of years, Leitz said. A reviving U.S. economy may be taking some workers away from agriculture, he said.
Many growers don’t believe the agricultural guest worker program is a viable solution because of delays and costs associated with the program, Leitz said.
Leitz said he has been working for immigration reform for nearly 20 years. Republicans will lose their agricultural base if they don’t move to support immigration reform. he said.