Reopening of Chinese apple market is welcome news for growers

Industry grateful as biggest apple crop ever prepares to ship.

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  • Grape program feels budget cuts

Grape program feels budget cuts

  • February 1st, 2012

Dr. Thomas Henick-Kling is hopeful research funding will be restored in the next Farm Bill.

Though the viticulture and enology program at Washington State University has largely heldits own during the last five years of drastic cuts from state allocations, viticulture and enology researchers are feeling the squeeze from ­Congress’s [...]

Sell food safety from the top down

  • February 1st, 2012

Food safety means different things to different people—sanitation, temperature control, personal hygiene, quality assurance, regulations—but what it really boils down to is human behavior, says a Kroger food safety manager. Changing behavior starts at the top and must be “sold” to employees if food safety is to be embraced.

Last [...]

Inmates available

  • February 1st, 2012

Inmates are available to work in Washington State orchards for the same hourly wage as other ­employees receive.

Dan Fazio, executive director of the Washington Farm Labor Association, said the Department of Corrections has a work-release program that is much different from the highly publicized program that McDougall and Sons, [...]

Refugees available for orchard work

  • January 15th, 2012

For growers who find the H-2A foreign guest-worker program too daunting, hiring refugees might be a way to ease labor shortages.

World Relief is one of ten organization that contract with the U.S. Department of Labor to help refugees who come to the United States get settled and find jobs.

Mark [...]

Who’s in charge?

  • January 15th, 2012

Roles of industry organizations

Organization
Responsibility

Washington State Horticultural Association
•Education (annual meeting)
•State legislative and regulatory issues
•GRASSP food safety program

Northwest Horticultural Council
Federal legislative, regulatory, technical,   and food safety issues
•Foreign trade and phytosanitary issues

Washington Growers Clearing House Association
Statistics on fruit prices and shipments
•State legislative and regulatory [...]

Good Point — Labor outlook is poor

  • January 1st, 2012

Frank Gasperini

Who would guess that, with unemployment at or just below double digits for three years, basic industries such as agriculture, food processing, restaurants, and others would experience labor shortages? Who would guess that, at the same time as agriculture—one of the few bright spots in the U.S. economy— [...]

Hort leaders discuss top issues of coming year

  • January 1st, 2012

David Douglas
President, Washington State Horticultural AssociationDavid Douglas, 37, works for the family growing and packing operation, Douglas Fruit Company, which is located in Pasco, Washington.

Douglas earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s in business administration from the ­University of Washington. He manages the field staff, and [...]

Concerned about labor

  • January 1st, 2012

Mark Rice, like almost every other commercial fruit grower, is concerned about his future labor ­supply. Rice needs about 100 workers during harvest, and about 30 in winter for pruning.

“This has been a popular destination for migrant farm workers,” he said of Adams County, where R & L Orchards [...]

More rules proposed on child labor

  • January 1st, 2012

Proposed new rules from the federal Department of Labor would further restrict the kind of work young people may do on farms—and might even restrict farmers’ rights to allow their own children to work.

The new labor rules were proposed in September. During a three-month comment period, some 6,000 comments [...]

What changes will you make in 2012?

  • January 1st, 2012

Many growers, particularly on the West Coast, didn’t have enough workers to pick their fruit last fall. The new year has just begun, but already fears are surfacing about not finding enough workers for the next harvest.

Good Fruit Grower asked orchardists across the country about their work force plans [...]

Georgia peach growers use H-2A

  • January 1st, 2012

Peach growers were conspicuously absent from the list of fruit and vegetable producers who suffered crop losses when some 11,000 seasonal farm workers failed to show up for harvest.

The reason? Most of Georgia’s peach crop is picked by H-2A workers. They didn’t shun Georgia after the state passed anti-illegal-immigrant [...]

Prison worker experience was positive

  • January 1st, 2012

Hiring prisoners to pick the tail end of their apple crop was a “last ditch” effort, but Scott McDougall believes it paid off. With 8,000 bins of an exclusive club variety left to pick, only 50 workers left in his harvest crews, and winter weather fast ­approaching, he was [...]