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Labor Shortage And Other Risks Confront San Diego Farmers

Eric Larson, executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, is pictu...

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

Above: Eric Larson, executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, is pictured at a grapefruit orchard in Escondido, March 19, 2015.

Labor Shortage for San Diego County Farmers

GUEST:

Eric Larson, executive director, San Diego County Farm Bureau

Transcript

Farming is a risky business.

It's the eighth-most dangerous job for men in the U.S. It's an occupation where catastrophe lurks behind every rain cloud, drought in every relentless sunbeam and disease in every swarm of insects.

In San Diego County, the everyday risks are compounded by a labor shortage which is reaching acute proportions.

Most farm-workers in San Diego County are residents who don't follow crops from farm to farm. But these workers are aging out, said Eric Larson, executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, and he sees no appetite in Washington to address the problem with immigration reform or a guest-worker program.

The bureau's annual Crop Report, released in June, reveals another risk. Lack of water and its high cost have taken a toll on what used to be the area's largest and most famous crop: avocados. Its value dropped more than 10 percent in 2017, to $122 million.

Eric Larson talks about the value of San Diego County crops and what the risks to those crops are Tuesday on Midday Edition.

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