Farm Worker Shortage in Washington - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Farm Worker Shortage in Washington

BURBANK, Wash. -- This is a busy, busy time for Washington Farmers. But right now, many are facing a work shortage.

Farmer Chep Gauntt says he looks for employees that are dedicated and work hard. He says, "We have hours that start at six in the morning and don't end sometimes until midnight the same day. Under these conditions it is really important that we take care of them."

Gauntt says he uses good wages, benefits, and other incentives to keep his work force. He says, "I think you need to treat people like you you'd like to be treated."

Gauntt says he doesn't have a problem keeping a work force but, statewide, twenty-two growers have already asked for more than a thousand workers, already more than the total for all of 2006. The Washington Employment Security Department says tougher border restrictions aren't the only reason for the shortage.

Employment Security Communications Director Sheryl Hutchison says, "We're also facing a stronger economy, where people have other options. They may work at another place where there are not as long of hours."

The Employment Security Department says it hopes it can workwith farmers to keep Washington agriculture successful. Hutchison says, "We don't see ourself as the only solution but part of the solution. "