A major Ohio tomato grower-shipper will not pack in its Ohio shed this summer because of a labor shortage.
Oak Harbor-based Charles Jones Produce LLC will focus on its South Carolina operation this summer instead, said Baldemar Velasquez, president of the Toledo, Ohio, office of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, which has represented workers who have worked in the company’s shed and fields.
Jones Produce grows about 1,000 acres of tomatoes in northwest Ohio and employs about 300 workers in its shed and 100-200 people as field laborers each summer, Velasquez said.
Charles Jones, Jones Produce’s owner, contacted Velasquez and informed him that because of a labor shortage, the company would not be packing tomatoes in its Oak Harbor facility this year.
The reason for the shortage, Velasquez said, is the new U.S. Customs and Border Protection Sandusky Bay Station in Sandusky, Ohio, which he said has frightened many Hispanic laborers away.
Charles Jones Produce did not return calls for comment.
“There are more than 100 officers in Sandusky, and it’s put a big chill in northern Ohio,” Velasquez said.
The Farm Labor Organizing Committee has a lawsuit pending against CBP because of what the organization considers profiling by officers.