Labor Shortage Continues to Plague Farms


By Fran Howard, Dairy Herd Management

June 3, 2021


Across the nation, labor shortages are causing great concern for a number of industries, including agriculture. In some states, there are fewer job seekers than there are jobs.


“The fear of exposure to Covid-19, lack of childcare, several rounds of government checks, and unusually high unemployment benefits have kept many people out of the workplace,” says Sarina Sharp, analyst with the Daily Dairy Report.


While the U.S. economy is well into recovery, employment growth has been uneven across sectors. Many low-wage earners have yet to return to work, and agricultural businesses are competing with manufacturers, warehouses, transport firms, and other sectors for a tight pool of entry-level labor, Sharp notes.


U.S. farms and livestock operations employed 11% fewer workers during one-week periods this past January and April compared to the comparable weeks in 2020, according to USDA’s annual Farm Labor report.


“If these trends hold, U.S. farm employment will drop to the lowest annual average since USDA began keeping track in 1996,” Sharp notes...