Lack of workers hurting harvest - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Lack of workers hurting harvest

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DRYDEN,Wash. -

Farmers across the state of Washington are having the same problem there are not enough laborer’s to harvest their crops, "It's bad enough as it is," said Ray Schmitten

Nestled in the Wenatchee River Valley stands a small pear farm that's struggling to harvest their fruit crop this season because of the lack of workers, "what we found is over the last couple of years is actually as many as five years, is less people coming in an aging population of people that are willing to do this type of work." said Ray.

The foreign workers who have been picking for the last twenty years are aging and are producing less and millennials don't want the job. And on average Ray usually employees 35 foreign workers being paid 25-30 dollars an hour. But this year he only had between 18-22 people to help harvest. Right now there's up to eight tons of pears sitting on the ground because they weren't harvested in time. And harvesting fruit from a tree like pears isn't easy work "it takes an athletic individual to climb ladders all day long with a bag of fruit 20 to 35 pounds of fruit up and down a ladder," Ray added.

Not only is it an aging population. Ray thinks the system to hire non-immigrant foreign workers called H-2A Is too hard because there's too much red tape.

"It's very difficult for somebody like me to put together a program that would work for H-2A and get guest workers. So that's what we're looking for is an easier system. A system that we can rely on," Ray said.

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