March 12, 2018 / Modified mar 12, 2018 10:54 a.m.

Vegetable Harvest Brings Wave of Guest Workers to Arizona

Migrant farmworkers on the H-2A visa help complete massive harvest starting in November.

Mint farm Mint grows on a Central Arizona farm in February, 2018. (PHOTO: AZPM Staff)

The demand for migrant farmworkers in Arizona has been growing steadily for years, and Arizona had the second-highest number of guest farmworkers in the country during the first quarter of the fiscal year that started in October. 

Migrant farmworkers come to the United States on a temporary visa called a H-2A. Federal data show Florida was the only state with more H-2A workers than Arizona during the last three months of 2017.

Arizona’s massive vegetable harvest starts in November and lasts until spring, said Steven Alameda, president of the Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association. 

"We don’t have enough people to do it. We’re bound [and] determined to get our crops harvested. So, if they’re not here, we have to look elsewhere, and this H-2A program has been very good to us."

Alameda said the current population of U.S. farmworkers is aging and retiring. Some of their children have also chosen agriculture, but they’re college-educated supervisors instead of field workers.

Fronteras Desk
This story is from the Fronteras Desk, a collaboration of Southwestern public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Fronteras Desk.
By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
Arizona Public Media broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents. Arizona Public Media and AZPM are registered trademarks of the Arizona Board of Regents.
The University of Arizona