Searching for answers for ag labor shortage

Any producer will tell you, the labor shortage is hitting the ag community hard. Numbers from USDA’s Economic Research Service back up those claims.

The labor shortage is spanning nearly every sector of the economy.

Walt Duflock, VP of Western Growers Innovation, says that the first problem is the workers are not there.

According to Duflock, “It’s not like we’re taking away jobs, we can’t find workers already. This often comes up when we talk about technology and innovation automation, and I think the way we address it is; A, really demonstrate the realities on the ground that they have many unfilled positions, but also there’s a need to translate the workforce of the future as well.”

A business strategist at FarmWise says that her company is leveraging artificial intelligence and robotics to deliver automated solutions to vegetable farms.

“Our first product is an automated mechanical weeder that detects crops from weeds using facial recognition,” Pauline Canteneur states. “So, it’s like Facebook for your crops, if you will, and then we’re able to actuate precisely blades around the crop, removing harmful weeds.”

The University of California Ag and Natural Resources Department says that current farm worker jobs are not being taken over by robots.

“Let’s blow up the myth, right now, there are no ag robots taking away any jobs at all today or anytime in the near future, right, and you know that because you’ve got acreage planted every year that is prepped, planted, grown, irrigated, weeded, and then not harvested,” Gabe Youtsey states.

Labor shortage is just one more area where farmers face everyday pressure.

The panel adds that the solutions will require research, money, and regulatory changes to meet agriculture’s future needs.


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