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San Diego farmers facing major worker shortage

Posted at 5:08 PM, Aug 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-22 20:19:16-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A shortage of labor is creating big problems for San Diego farmers.

According to the San Diego Farm Bureau, the slowing workforce is expected to impact local farmers and the price we pay at the grocery store.

The bureau says the problem stems from an aging work force, the lack of an easy-to-navigate visa program, and the cost of living in San Diego County.

There is a visa program available, but for San Diego’s smaller farmers, the process is complicated and expensive.

Created in 1986, the H-2A visa was designed to help understaffed farmers hire foreign workers.

The problem? The visa program requires farmers to pay its H-2A employees a set minimum wage, $13.92 per-hour in California.

Farmers are also required to provide housing, food and transportation to H-2A workers.

California isn’t alone, other states like Idaho are also struggling to find help.

According to an Idaho newspaper – The Post Register, a recent migrant shortage and costs associated with the program are forcing some farms out of business.

Although times are tough for farmers in San Diego, the bureau says there is a solution – creating a boiled down visa program that simplifies things for farmers and the workers they need.

Friday morning on 10News at 6, Kalyna Astrinos takes a deeper look at the impact on San Diego farmers and the decisions they face in the midst of the shortage.