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Laborers' numbers worry farmers

by 5m Editor
4 September 2006, at 9:51am

UTAH - Circle Four Farms, a Milford-based company that annually produces about 1 million pounds of pork, starts its full-time employees at $10 an hour with a minimum of 45 hours a week. Kevin Smith, a company spokesman, says officials are concerned with the agricultural labor shortage because Circle Four Farms depends on raising the pigs on animal feed that is grown by farmers.

For at least the past 18 months, the 400-employee company has been understaffed by 10 percent to 15 percent. Smith says. To lure employees, the 11-year-old company is recruiting employees from Southern California, paying bonuses and considering building homes closer to the company's facility that is about 30 miles from the closest neighborhood, he says.

"All we need to do is perform," Smith says. "We need enough people to make the demand."

For Farley and Allred, they fear that the labor shortage will get worse unless Congress changes the immigration laws for undocumented immigrants to work legally in the United States.

It's difficult for "poor, uneducated Mexicans" to go through the U.S. immigration system to become a farmworker, Allred says. It's also expensive and time-consuming for farmers to apply for U.S. work visas for their farmworkers, Farley says.

"I'd like a legal, dependable supply," Farley says of farmworkers. "And I'd like to be able to pay them a good wage."

Source: Salt Lake Tribune

5m Editor