Sonoma County
University of California
Sonoma County

Shift toward hiring through farm labor contractors continuing

The trend toward contracting out labor is, in part, a product of the current economic climate.
A Bakersfield farming cooperative will lay off 2,100 permanent seasonal workers and instead hire a labor force through farm labor contractors, reported Jill Cowan in the Bakersfield Californian. The shift toward hiring seasonal workers through farm labor contractors is not new, said University of California Cooperative Extension specialist emeritus Howard Rosenberg, who has studied agricultural labor management for decades.

"(Use of farm labor contractors) has grown from the low 20 percents, to now over 40 percent," Rosenberg said, "and some people would say that it's now over 80 percent."

He said farm labor contractors can help growers avoid "transaction costs for hiring and firing." Employing middlemen who are theoretically experts at "dealing with the complex regulatory environment" is a way of outsourcing some of an organization's management burden.

Agricultural leader Ron Tyler dies
Register Pajaronian

Ron Tyler, the director of UC Cooperative Extension in Santa Cruz County who retired in 1991, has passed away.

“I knew him for about 34 years and he was very dedicated to the ag industry, first being in his profession as the agricultural extension adviser for many years,” Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau executive director Jess Brown said. “In that role, not only did he interact with people in agriculture, but farmed and gave them advice.”

Stink bugs pose noxious challenge
The Business Journal

Native stink bugs don’t pose a great threat to local farmers because they have natural predators. But an invasive species that has wreaked havoc on some mid-Atlantic fruit orchards appears to be flitting toward the Golden State’s breadbasket.

“It’s spreading pretty rapidly,” said Walt Bentley, an entomologist with the University of California’s Integrated Pest Management Program. “Last year it seemed to have one of those population explosions.”

The threat to grapes is of critical concern in the leading grape-growing region in the nation. Stephen Vasquez, viticulture farm advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Fresno, said stink bugs could wind up crushed by presses at wineries and “contribute to off flavors in the wine.”

Stink bugs also are a nuisance to homeowners, clustering in attics and hiding between any slender space, the way cockroaches do.

“As it gets cold they will start to overwinter in people’s houses. They just haven’t become established yet. I suspect it’s just a matter of time,” Vasquez said.

Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 9:14 AM

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