Trying to find enough greenhouse vegetable workers?

12-05-2022    12:47   |    Urban Ag News

Jose “Pepe” Calderon, head grower at Local Bounti, said finding people willing to produce greenhouse vegetables has become complicated because crops like tomatoes require skilled workers to perform some production activities.

As in other industries, greenhouse vegetable operators are facing challenges finding enough skilled workers to produce their crops.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, employers were having a difficult time finding enough workers. The coronavirus has only exasperated that challenge.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects overall employment of agricultural workers will rise 2 percent from 2020 to 2030. That is the slowest average for all occupations. During this 10-year period the bureau expects there will be on average about 138,900 openings each year for agricultural workers. The majority of these openings will be the result of having to replace workers who have left for different occupations or have exited the labor force.

In 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, agricultural workers held about 869,000 jobs. Greenhouse along with nursery and farm laborers accounted for the majority of agricultural employment with 526,300 jobs. Half of the workers employed in agriculture were involved in crop production.

Need for skilled labor

“The challenges to finding workers are enormous,” said Jose “Pepe” Calderon, head grower at Local Bounti, a greenhouse producer of fresh greens and herbs in Hamilton, Mont. “Companies worldwide are expressing the same concern about a lack of labor. Employers need them promptly, but aren’t always successful at finding them.

“In recent years, finding people who want to work in agriculture has been complicated, especially in the greenhouse sector, because the people required to perform the jobs associated with greenhouse food production need specific skills.”

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