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Farmers Plant Different Crops

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Original Title:
Worker Shortage Forces Farmers to Plant Different Crops

Some Stanislaus County farmers are having a tough time harvesting their crops because of a shortage of workers.

For years Vito Chiesa, who farms near Hughson, has grown peaches, but these days he's replacing them with almonds. "This is where I started losing peaches," he pointed out to News10 reporter Tim Daly. "Just like that, we got the bulldozers and pushed. You're going to see almonds out there next year."

Chiesa said he can't find enough workers to handle crops like peaches that require careful hand picking. Almonds require fewer workers because trees are mechanically shaken and the nuts gathered from the ground.

Chiesa thinks there are a couple of reasons for the labor shortage, which he knows is even worse in the southern Central Valley. One is workers make higher wages doing construction work and there is plenty of that in the Central Valley. Another is that since the September 11, 2001 attacks, there is more enforcement at the state's border with Mexico, resulting in fewer workers coming into California.

Chiesa thinks perhaps a guest worker program would help the farm labor situation without making the country less secure. "People who want to work and contribute to the economy of the U.S. should have the opportunity to provide for themselves and family," he said.

Until the situation changes, Chiesa said to expect more fruit from South America, China and other countries where labor is cheap and there is more competition.

(This story was provided by News10 KXTV Sacramento.)

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