Ohio’s farm labor outlook mixed

06/06/2014 11:20:00 AM
Mike Hornick

The labor outlook varies among Ohio vegetable grower-shippers, but poses enough of a challenge to cause some to limit production.

“Finding a sufficient labor force is going to be challenging,” said Loren Buurma, co-owner of Willard, Ohio-based Buurma Farms Inc. “I’m sure we could plant 15% to 20% more than we currently do. Without an adequate labor force, you have to cut back.”

“For the last few years we’ve been short on labor,” Buurma said. “Until our Congress addresses it with some type of proper regulations, I think that’s going to continue.”

BenWiers, president of Willard-based Wiers Farm Inc., expects an adequate labor supply for at least the immediate future.

“I know other folks are struggling,” he said. “Eventually we could be seeing that too and that’s why we’re strong proponents of revamping the H-2A program as it is today and getting a guest worker program that can actually work for the farmers and the workers.”

“We raise so many different varieties of vegetables that you can move in on a season and stay here for a prolonged period of time, where a lot of other crops transition in and out in a six- to eight-week period,” Wiers said. “The work here can last five to six months. That helps.”

Scott Michael, president of Urbana, Ohio-based Michael Farms, expected sufficient labor to harvest the company’s crops.

“It’s pretty much the same crew back,” he said.



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