Local farms are having a hard time finding workers

The price of fruits and vegetables may increase.

Posted: Sep 11, 2019 6:30 PM

APPLEGATE, Ore --  Every Tuesday Barking Moon Farm sells its vegetables at the Ashland Farmers Market.

You would never guess by the buckets of fresh veggies that it is short staffed. "We've had significantly more trouble getting anyone to respond to job postings." said Josh Cohen. He is the owner of Barking Moon Farm.

He doesn't have enough workers to pick all the produce. "I think in part the work we do is challenging work." said Cohen. He's been a farmer for 15 years. He says this happens sometimes.

He told me years ago farmers lost workers, because of the construction boom. The pay was higher and now a new boom is impacting them. "A few years ago with the legalization of marijuana in our state." said Cohen. 

Hemp and cannabis are a higher value crop so companies can pay their laborers more. "The money is there." said Cohen. Cohen and other farmers that grow produce can't increase their prices. "So there is a part of me that wants to believe that it's in part due to the new boom of hemp in our area." said Cohen. 

He doesn't want to increase the price of his vegetables, but he also needs workers. So he is considering growing hemp to help bring in more money.

"I don't think we are looking ahead far enough to see how this is going to impact us. I think about it a lot." said Cohen. Other produce farmers might have to increase their prices. "It might even become prohibitive." said Cohen. Or switch to hemp or cannabis all together. "There's a part of me that is just seeing the amount of acreage in our county going into hemp production." said Cohen. 

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