NEAR the massive packing warehouse at the headquarters of Limoneira, one of America’s largest lemon producers, sits a row of small white clapboard houses with neat front lawns and American flags flapping over their doorways. The homes are rented to farm workers at 55% below the market rate in Santa Paula, California, a fertile farming area not far from the seaside homes of Malibu. From their front doors, workers can stroll to a bocce court, a credit union and a park where family reunions and birthdays are celebrated. These perks, along with competitive pay, used to be enough to keep Limoneira’s fields of lemons and avocados full of workers. Not any more, says Alex Teague, the company’s senior vice-president. Though labour has long been tight, “I have never seen it this bad,” Mr Teague sighs from a chair in his office whose walls are covered in company memorabilia, including Limoneira’s first cheque from 1893.
Across America, farms are experiencing…Continue reading