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High labour costs driving fruit and vegetable production out of some U.S. states

Staff Writer |
While demand for local produce in the U.S. is growing, so too are labour costs.

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With higher costs, high-value fruit and vegetable production is being pushed out of states like California, Arizona and Colorado and onto farms south of the border, according to two experts who work on agricultural labour issues.

Philip Martin, professor emeritus of ag economics at the University of California-Davis, and Guadalupe (Lupe) Sandoval, executive director of the California Farm Labor Contractors Association, say the shift is already happening and likely to intensify.

Most of the recent agricultural expansion in Mexico has been financed by U.S. growers and shippers, who can produce four times the vine-ripened tomatoes there at a fraction of the cost.

The two men made presentations recently on ag labour trends at the annual meeting of the Ag Relations Council.

Heavily urbanized states like California and Colorado are among the largest producers of fruit and vegetables, industry segments that are especially labour intensive.

They also tend to have skyrocketing housing and transportation costs.

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