Is Latino Labor in the Agricultural Industry a Thing of the Past?

Is Latino Labor in the Agricultural Industry a Thing of the Past? This past June I had the opportunity to address pork producers at the World Pork Expo (audio and slides). At that time, the key message of my presentation had to do with the idea that producers no longer had to worry about finding workers to get the job done at their farms.

Perhaps a sign of relief; at least something producers did not have to worry about during these turbulent times… It made sense… When you considered the high unemployment rates prevalent for several months and the number of displaced workers willing to do just about any type of job, most producers had a lot more job applications to choose from and fewer jobs to fill as employees “stayed put” waiting for the recession storm to go by.

If you follow that line of thought and then think of the challenges facing the Latino worker, one has to wonder if Latino labor in the agricultural industries is truly a thing of the past. I know of many Latinos struggling to find employment or to keep their jobs during this recession. In my opinion, this may be due to several factors:

  • The widespread use of E-Verify and internal audits done by companies
  • The lack of skills in the English language makes it harder to get hired as we are competing for fewer jobs, and
  • A somewhat unassertive attitude when it comes to showing the value we may add to an enterprise
It is exciting to see new talent wanting to enter our industry even if it is due to harsh economic conditions. I believe it gives agricultural related industries the opportunity to highlight the great career opportunities available. Hopefully, a few will decide to stay if we do the right things to retain them.

However, I also believe that based on the demographic trends we are seeing in the USA, the emerging Latino population is a very viable option for staffing our agricultural operations. The Latino workforce will play a very important part in the future of agriculture in this great nation. We have the opportunity to recruit, train and retain young talent that we can turn into future leaders of our industry.

What do you think about the future of the Latino workforce in agricultural related industries? Is it a thing of the past, or is it here to stay and for us all to benefit from it? I look forward to your comments. I thank Truffle Media Networks for the opportunity to share and I thank you, for reading.

Orlando Gil
"Helping Bridge the Gap with the Latino Workforce in Agricultural Related Industries"
BioOGil - 2009.doc478.5 KB