Controlling Rising Labor Costs

A perfect storm is developing in the US farm labor market and currently in the cross-hairs of several different forces, none of which are good for US growers looking to at least contain labor costs.

Over the course of the past several years, the Mexican non-farm job market has improved, redirecting traditional farm workers to better paying non-farm jobs. According to UC Davis, there are approximately 155,000 fewer Mexicans coming to the US to work each year and the minimum wage to attract these workers to work has increased by as much as 18% in some farming areas. Interestingly, only 2% of California hired farm workers are born in the US.

Domestically, several significant factors are impacting farming costs. Firstly, the improving US job market (particularly in construction) is pulling workers away from farm jobs by offering better pay and often times less labor intensive work. Secondly, the government’s efforts to increase the minimum wage AND require health benefits are beginning to be felt. Thirdly, the children of current migrant farm workers are looking else where for employment. The younger generation is simply not interested in taking the same jobs their parents have previously performed. As the current population of migrant farm workers age and retire, they are not being replaced by younger workers.

What does this mean to US growers? To help combat current labor issues (both scarcity and rising labor costs) growers are being forced to take action, and their choices are limited:

– look to other countries as an alternate source of migrant workers
– invest in technologies to increase worker efficiencies
– mechanize labor intensive tasks

In particular, the choice that can be most quickly and easily implemented is for growers to invest in new technologies designed to make labor intensive jobs such as vineyard pruning and tieing less labor intensive (more efficiently performed).

Spec Trellising is proud to introduce INFACO’s line of high quality battery powered hand tools designed to increase worker efficiencies for labor intensive jobs such as pruning, tieing and de-suckering, as well as reduce repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

INFACO’s F3010 Battery Powered Pruning Shear is an invaluable tool, designed to increase pruning rates by 25% AND significantly reduce the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. In addition, workers are more likely to want to come back to work the following season if given the option to use the F3010 pruner instead of conventional pruning shears. VIDEO

Thanks to the F3010 SDES safety system (combined with the safety glove), the risk of worker injury from the F3010 is virtually eliminated. While wearing the glove, if the operator touches the tool with their gloved hand, the electrical system of the F3010 shear short circuits and the shear becomes inoperable until the glove no longer makes contact with the shear.

A3MV2.0 Tie Tool The A3MV2 is INFACO’s battery powered tieing tool for tieing canes and young vines. The tool can increase the rate of tieing by an incredible 300% compared to traditional hand tieing methods and introduces ZERO pollution into the environment (unlike tie tape), AND significantly reduces the threat of carpal tunnel syndrome. VIDEO

De-Suckering Tool The De-Suckering tool not only virtually eliminates the back breaking effects of manual de-suckering, it significantly increases worker productivity while significantly slowing worker fatigue rate. This make the worker happier, it reduces the risk of injury due to worker fatigue. VIDEO

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