Rogue Valley orchardists can’t find workers for harvest

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. — Pear orchardists are seeing a shortage of labor here in southern Oregon. Orchard owners said it’s an issue they’ve been dealing with for more than five years.

Rogue Valley orchardist, Gary Hubler, said for the first time in 30 years, none of his trees on his home property were pruned. Hubler harvests pear and other crops on 45 acres in the valley.

Hubler has posted multiple job openings but has gotten no applications since January.  He thinks much of the labor is going toward other industries.

“It’s gone into cannabis, the wine industry, and us pear orchardist are suffering dearly for a lack of labor,” Hubler said.

On the other side of the valley, for owner Ron Meyers of Meyer Orchards in Talent, he’s had to contract foreign workers.

“It’s become progressively worse where we do rely somewhat on these H2-A people,” he said.

H2-A employees are seasonal foreign workers. Meyers have hired them in the past but says it’s costly and complicated because of the regulations.

“We have to in the sense that if we are going to get the crop harvested, we have to hire them,” Meyers said.

He said it cost $2,000 to bring a migrant worker to the valley. He said he hopes to hire more domestic people this year.

“If we can’t hire enough local or domestic people as we call them, then I would like to see the H2-A program simplified,” he said.

“I know the reason is that they want to guarantee every American worker has a chance but those workers are just not out there right now.”

To contact Ron Meyer with Meyer Orchards for employment opportunities, call 541-210-2215.

To contact Gary Hubler with Hubler Orchards for employment opportunities, call 458-225-9437.



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