Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Days Without Mexicans

In the fields of eastern Washington, there is no one to harvest the crops:

A labor shortage that hurt Washington asparagus growers will likely continue as the agriculture industry moves into its busiest months.

Workers who had been harvesting asparagus spears recently moved on to the cherry crop, leaving some asparagus growers to plow up their remaining harvest.

"If we don't solve the labor issue soon, asparagus won't be anything but a very rare specialty in Washington," said Mike Miller, owner of Airport Ranch in Sunnyside, Yakima County.

Jim Middleton, chairman of the state's asparagus commission, is pulling out 45 of his 180 asparagus acres north of Pasco.

"It's strictly due to the lack of labor and it's gotten worse every year," he said. "This year I had some fields I could only cut until the middle of May. You can't stay in business without labor."

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