American produce growers preparing to harvest crops are warning of a devastating impact on fruit and vegetables after the U.S. Embassy in Mexico announced a halt to visa interviews for seasonal farm workers. Slaughterhouses also may face labor shortages.
In Australia, growers say the country may face shortages of some fruits and vegetables because of travel curbs, with the nation traditionally using overseas workers for one third of seasonal farming jobs. Kiwifruit pickers are in short supply in New Zealand. And in Canada, travel limits threaten meat processors that rely on temporary foreign workers to fill chronic labor shortages.
“There won’t be anyone to harvest the crops,” said Robert Guenther, senior vice president for public policy for the United Fresh Produce Association, which represents U.S. growers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers. “It will be devastating to growers and ultimately to the supply chain and consumers. They won’t have the food.”