I liked this editorial from the Yakima Herald-Republic last week: Grant County apple growth complementary, not competitive.
Grant County’s increasing production simply means that business as a while [sic] is expanding, and it further enhances the importance of agriculture in Washington’s economy. Continued success requires the business and political communities to focus on the key issues that make the industry possible: water supply, sensible regulations, labor supply, shipping infrastructure, access to ports, free and fair overseas markets, and savvy marketing of Central Washington’s products.
And here’s a good article from the paper on the hops harvest and shortage of workers this year.
The seasonal scarcity of agricultural workers, many years a headache for the apple industry, now is affecting the Yakima Valley’s plentiful hop harvest, forcing the region’s two signature crops to compete for labor.
To keep up with the surging growth of a national craft beer industry that opens a brewery a day, Washington commercial growers, located exclusively in the Yakima Valley, boosted their hop acreage by 7 percent and expect the largest crop in five years. That means more vines to cut and cones to process.
Growers are increasing compensation, turning to the H-2A temporary work visa program, and automating some of the work.