Labor survey finds farmers struggle to hire for on-farm jobs

Over half of participants said they have been unable to hire employees at some point during the last five years.

By taking a variety of steps to alleviate chronic shortages of agricultural employees, California farmers and ranchers continue to report problems in hiring enough people for on-farm jobs.

A voluntary survey of 1,071 farmers and ranchers conducted by the California Farm Bureau Federation in collaboration with the University of California Davis indicated that 56% of participating farmers have been unable to hire employees they needed at some point during the last five years.

Results from the survey include:

  • 86% said they had raised wages in efforts to hire people
  • 61% reported they had hired a farm labor contractor to recruit employees
  • 37% said they have adjusted cultivation practices
  • 6% of farmers have enrolled in the H-2A agricultural visa program

“The survey shows farmers have tried and are trying all the tactics available to them, such as increased wages, changes in farming and cropping patterns, use of the existing H-2A visa program and automation where appropriate,” California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson said in a recent release.

Richard Bianchi, local farmer and former San Benito County Farm Bureau president, said they have struggled the last few years to fill the roster.

“We even tried to increase wages and entice people to apply, but that hasn’t even worked,” Bianchi said, adding that San Benito County needs to have a reliable workforce for farmers and also take care of current employees.

Johansson said the California Farm Bureau Federation will continue to work with Congress to create a secure, flexible, market-based immigration program that works better for both farmers and farm employees.

The full survey report is available on the California Farm Bureau Federation website at



BenitoLink Staff