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September 29, 2006

Pickers Are Few, and Growers Blame Congress

By Julia Preston, NY Times, Lakeport, Ca;

“The pear growers here in Lake County waited decades for a crop of shapely fruit like the one that adorned their orchards last month.

“I felt like I went to heaven,” said Nick Ivicevich, recalling the perfection of his most abundant crop in 45 years of tending trees.
Now harvest time has passed and tons of pears have ripened to mush on their branches, while the ground of Mr. Ivicevich’s orchard reeks with rotting fruit. He and other growers in Lake County, about 90 miles north of San Francisco, could not find enough pickers.

Stepped-up border enforcement kept many illegal Mexican migrant workers out of California this year, farmers and labor contractors said, putting new strains on the state’s shrinking seasonal farm labor force.

Labor shortages have also been reported by apple growers in Washington and upstate New York. Growers have gone from frustrated to furious with Congress, which has all but given up on passing legislation this year to create an agricultural guest-worker program.
Last week, 300 growers representing every major agricultural state rallied on the front lawn of the Capitol carrying baskets of fruit to express their ire”.

www.nytimes.com

Posted by VisaLawyer at September 29, 2006 09:16 AM

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