Labor remains on greenhouse growers’ minds

03/15/2013 02:21:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Labor issues remains a hot-button issue for greenhouse vegetable growers.

Eatontown, N.J.-based Village Farms LP doesn’t anticipate major labor problems in 2013, but it’s an issue that’s never far from growers’ minds — especially when growers have competition for workers from other industries, as Village Farms does.

“We’re in pretty good shape, but our Monaghans (Texas) facility is difficult because of the Permian Basin, which is big in oil,” said Doug Kling, the company’s chief sales and marketing officer.

Competition also exists within the fresh produce industry, of course.

Kling cited the booming berry industry as one that can lure workers from greenhouse growers.

Madison, Maine-based Backyard Farms LLC plans to promote staff from within when it opens its long-awaited new research and development facility this spring, said Tim Cunniff, executive vice president of sales and marketing.

And for Backyard Farms, “from within” also always means “from around here.”

“It’s always exciting for us that we have a local Maine work force,” Cunniff said. “It’s awesome to see people grow and get promoted within the organization.”

For Backyard Farms, there’s no need to look beyond the state’s, much less the region’s or country’s borders, for good help.

“We have good solid, strong Maine workers,” Cunniff said.



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