Harvest Season Made Difficult With Workers Shortage - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Harvest Season Made Difficult With Workers Shortage

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YAKIMA, WA. -- Harvest season is in full swing all over the region. Many crops are expecting a strong yield this year, but growers say a worker shortage isn't helping. 

There's a lot going on at Roy Farms as they're right in the middle of a hop harvest. Right now growers expect about an average or a little below average yield but that isn't the problem. The problem is getting enough workers to pick this harvest. 


You aren't just looking at the latest hop harvest, you could be looking at your next brew. 


"These hops will become somebody's next beer," Michael Roy said. "What we're looking for is this."


Workers at Roy Farms are methodically emptying trucks full of hops. As soon as one leaves the other enters. Similar to what's happening to Roy Farm workers.


Mike Roy says they've lost 5 or 6 workers per week to higher paying jobs. And there aren't people around to replace them. In order to keep workers they've had to raise wages. 


"It's all hands on deck," Roy said. "We have to pull resources from around the farm. In the end, it's costing us more than what it has in years past."


It's loud here in the hop capitol of the world. But out in the apple orchards, it's very peaceful. But that doesn't mean they're not busy either. 


"I don't have the numbers as whether it's a record year or not but I know for us, I'd say it's close to that," J.L. Thompson said.


Thompson Farms is a u-pick orchard, meaning they don't need to hire workers for their harvest. But J.L. has heard the complaints from around the valley


"I just just talked to a fella that came in here this morning and he was saying that workers are hard to find," J.L. said. "For a smaller farmer it's harder to find people because the big guys, they pay better."


While the harvest season is good shape, the job market is not. 


"It creates more headaches than anything," Roy said. "It's something that we're concerned about moving forward."


Roy Farms says they still expect about 5 million pounds of hops during this harvest. But it will take them a little bit longer and cost a little bit more because of this workers shortage. 


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