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Kern County farm owner experiences labor shortage on his farms

Posted at 6:38 AM, Aug 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-04 09:38:50-04

Kern County was the second highest producing agricultural community in the country in 2015, which is something farm workers played a vital role in. 

However, Steve Murray the owner of Murray Family Farms faced a bit more of a struggle when it came to having his farm workers stick around long enough to harvest everything that needed to be.

"Everybody's working off the same pool of people and there's simply not enough of them," said Steve.

More and more frequently he's seeing his farm workers leave his farm for work elsewhere.

"Our worker's are being attracted to go to other contract laborers, where on a given day they can make more money per hour," said Steve.

This causes a problem for Steve, who loses profit every time his crops aren't all harvested.

Even though labor shortages aren't too talked about in Kern County, some believe say it's not as uncommon as people think.

"Seasonally they may experience some type of labor shortage but they're able to manage, they somehow pull off the season, and it's forgotten until the next season," said Beatris Sanders, the executive director of the Kern County Farm Bureau.

Beatris also pointed out that Murray Family Farms is the only farm in Kern County that has vocalized a labor shortage but said it could simply be that other farm owners just haven't said anything on the topic. 

In order to try and keep those workers Steve offers them things like 401K's, paid vacation and holiday time as well as a family and culture filled environment.

But he holds on to the hope that the labor shortage will go as quickly as it came.

"You know you just work with it," said Steve.