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Cost Of Produce Could Rise Due To Lack Of California Migrant Workers

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) -- The shortage of migrant workers in California could soon drive up the cost of fruits and vegetables for consumers. Many California farmers are saying they're struggling to find enough migrant workers to pick their crops at harvest time.

The state's agricultural economy relies on a steady stream of migrant laborers, mostly from Mexico, but that stream has recently slowed to a trickle.

"Labor supply has been short for several years now, but it seems much more acute this year because there does not seem to be as many people crossing the border from Mexico coming here to look for work," said Monterey County Farm Bureau Executive Director Norm Groot, who blamed tighter anti-immigration laws.

Said there have been many vegetable and fruit crews reporting that they don't have enough laborers. Strawberry crews have been seen going out without full compliment of workers.

KCBS' Matt Bigler Reports:

Groot added that crop picking is fairly specialized so they can't just transfer a farm worker from one crop field to another. If there aren't enough farm workers, the crops could get plowed under instead of picked which also means people can expect prices to rise at their local grocery stores.

While there is already a shortage of crop harvesters, Groot said once grape harvest time rolls around, it will pinch the resources available even more.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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