Agriculture experts call for action on food prices, labor shortages

HIDALGO County, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Agriculture industry experts, Hidalgo County city officials and business leaders gathered at a news conference Thursday morning to call for action on farm labor shortages and increased food prices.

“We call on the Texas Senators, Senator John Cornyn, and Senator Ted Cruz, to action,” said Dante Galeazzi, president and CEO of the Texas International Product Association.

Galeazzi and other experts said the issues are happening across the country.

The agricultural sector today faces a devastating shortage of labour. “This urgently needs to be addressed to preserve grocery store stocks and lower food prices for Texans and Americans everywhere,” said Juan Carlos Cerda, Texas director and deputy campaign manager for the US Trade Immigration Alliance.

The labor shortage is affecting companies like Little Bear Produce in Edinburgh, according to the company’s executive vice president for business, Brett Erickson.

“We have struggled for years to find enough labor to harvest and package our products, and with this labor shortage, the cost of production has increased,” said Erickson.

He said using the temporary H2-A agricultural program is helping them work.

H2-A allows companies like Little Bear Produce to bring in foreign workers to work in the United States temporarily.

Erickson said the software can be expensive and cumbersome.

These problems have carried over to smaller companies such as Juicy Fresh in McAllen.

Natalie Flores, owner and general manager of Juicy Fresh, said she pays more for the products, which has caused her to make changes to their pricing.

“We try to do specials, we try not to raise our prices too much and work together so we can manage it and we are still open and we are still here and serving,” Flores said. Organizations and companies hope for change before the November elections.

Passing the Farm Workforce Modernization Act is one solution they hope Texas senators will support.

It will allow for better benefits for farm workers and will help to hire more workers to fill the current shortage.

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