Western Farmers Face Double Labor Loss

Farmers in some Western states are reporting excessive labor shortages in part due to competition from the oil and gas industries.
For the past few years, farmers have reported difficulty in obtaining necessary farm labor. In large part, this difficulty has been the result of strict new immigration laws passed by several states, and overall national climate hostile to undocumented workers, as well as a sluggish US economy attracting fewer and fewer immigrants.
In some states, however, these difficulties are being compounded by increased competition from other industries. In places like Colorado, for example, agricultural workers are being lured away by the oil and gas industries.
In parts of northern Colorado, job growth has been almost universally in the mining industry, primarily the result of a booming oil and natural gas industry. While resource extraction experiences a job boom, many farmers are seeing potential farm workers drawn away to an industry that can offer significantly higher pay.
In the wake of these losses, farmers are becoming more and more reliant on federal immigration reform, particularly provisions that would reform the work visa program, to solve future labor shortages.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer