The Impact of The Pandemic on The US Farm Labor Market

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August 17, 2021
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The Impact of The Pandemic on The US Farm Labor Market

An apple orchard

The COVID19 outbreak affected individuals from all walks of life, employment backgrounds, and countries. With thousands of individuals around the world being laid off or losing their jobs, America’s working-class suffered a major setback.

However, the pandemic significantly affected the lives of workers, agricultural producers, and workers were also significantly affected. As a result, farmers are now implementing new management practices to deal with the impact of the pandemic.

Here are some of those:

A wheat field in Florida

An introduction

Right after the pandemic was declared, governments worldwide recommended employees and workers to work distantly wherever possible. However, farmworkers definitely didn’t have the same kind of leverage. Since they’re a part of the essential food industry and constitute a major aspect of the food supply chain, the farmworkers continue to power through—despite the risks of contracting the virus. In order to ensure the demand and availability of food throughout the year, the US labor market also considered the availability of guest workers via the H-2A visa program.

 

The spread of COVID19

Unfortunately, there were numerous instances of COVID19 outbreaks with the farms, meatpacking plants, and farm quarters. Farmworkers at every stage of food production were vulnerable to the virus. Since high-value fruits and vegetable markets are so labor-intensive, this took a significant toll on the output. The main problem arises when the workers are asked to quarantine at the same time as that of food ripening. As a result, much of the crop is lost.

This is exactly what happened in a farmworker housing facility located in Oxnard, California, back on June 29, 2020. As a result of the breakout, the residents were asked to quarantine. It wasn’t easy for the farm managers to find a 100% replacement for the workers on an immediate basis. It took farm managers a lot of time to learn how to deal with the labor shortage.

 

The impact on labor migration

Unfortunately, the pandemic has also taken a toll on labor migration. This is one of the reasons why the unemployment rate was at its highest. Studies also show that most workers do not prefer switching from non-farm to farm-based jobs. At the same time, the government also increased unemployment benefits and further (temporarily) restricted non-farm workers from seeking agricultural jobs. This means that even though the pandemic caused a major increase in unemployment, there was still a need to recruit guest farmworkers from abroad.

Farm Aid H-2A LLC from Anthony, Florida, is helping farmers and farm managers meet their seasonal labor demands. We are an H2A employment agency that also helps farmers acquire foreign labor certifications. We would also be glad to offer our advisory services to help farm managers meet their labor needs. Get in touch if you have any queries.

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