Today’s Topic: The availability of farm labor and its impact on the 2012 growing season

by | Feb 14, 2012

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

Southern Farm Network logoThis week, Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss how uncertainty about farm labor could be a factor in farmers’ decisions for 2012.

Concerns about the availability and cost of farm labor have prompted at least one farmer to make plans to do more mechanical harvesting and hire fewer guest workers under the federal H-2A program. It costs a farmer roughly $1,000 per worker just to get them here. And this year, the hourly wage paid to H-2A workers in North Carolina is expected to increase. These costs are forcing some farmers to rethink their labor situation.

This expense has become a concern for tobacco growers in particular. There is uncertainty in the tobacco market, plus there’s the pressure of increasing input costs. And you also have to factor in the effects of Hurricane Irene, which pretty much wiped out the crop in the eastern part of the state last year.

And if tobacco farmers are concerned about labor, imagine how our fruit and vegetable farmers are feeling. Those crops rely heavily on people.

Click below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss Today’s Topic.

[Audio: |titles=Today’s Topic for Feb. 14]

Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.