In her green minivan, Angelica Villa navigates the farm roads north of Bellingham like a seasoned tour guide. She points out a cannery, a potato plant and miles of berry fields. Villa previously worked at many of these places and she rattles off story after story about harassment on the job.
PASCO, Wash. – Northwest farmers are beginning to harvest the first asparagus of the year this week in southeast Washington. That’s a tad earlier than usual. And after last year's farm-labor shortage, growers across the region are keeping an eye on how many asparagus workers show up for the harvest.
At the Middleton farm stand near Pasco, Washington asparagus – both purple and green – is selling by the pound to passersby. Bins of fresh asparagus are brought here right off the fields. Workers come and go. At the helm is Laura Middleton.
Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 3:59 pm
RICHLAND, Wash. – Many Northwest growers are left out of the partial extension of the U.S. Farm Bill included in this week’s fiscal cliff legislation. The new law largely covers conventional agriculture and not the organics, specialty crops and conservation programs that our region’s farmers are known for.
Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 5:27 pm
Northwest wheat growers are hoping for a swift resolution to a labor dispute that could keep their grain from reaching the world market. Grain terminals remain open in Portland, Vancouver and Seattle, even though the terminals' owners have implemented a contract offer unionized longshoremen rejected.
Most of the wheat that grows on the rolling hills of eastern Washington is bound for the international market. But to get there, the wheat passes through one of a handful of grain terminals in the Northwest.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a long history of discriminating against farmers who are women, Hispanic, Native American and African American. Numerous lawsuits have cost the government several billion dollars. The latest legal settlement is for women and Hispanic farmers who can prove they were discriminated against in the 1980s and ‘90s. But some of these farmers say the deal to make amends for discrimination is itself discriminatory.
CHELAN, Wash. – The apple harvest season is starting to wrap up across the Northwest. Despite record yields, many farmers had trouble getting their time-sensitive crop off the trees because of a short labor supply.
Grower representatives at the meeting said their regions saw a 10 percent to 30 percent labor shortage this season. Several talked of nearly empty labor camps near Wenatchee and Chelan. One said he and two others had to pick a 40-acre orchard themselves despite offering $12 per hour.
CHELAN, Wash. – Moms and dads hoping to pack an apple in their children’s lunches might have to budget a bit more this year. That’s because even though the Northwest has seen a bumper crop in apples, elsewhere there’s a shortage.
The Northwest may have had a great season, but the Midwest and East’s apple crop got pummeled this year. That means there is more demand and increased prices for our region’s fruit, both for fresh eating and for juice and sauce.