I just attended a meeting last week to hear some updates from the Monterey County Farm Bureau. I thought I'd share a brief summary of some of the discussion points but please refer to the Farm Bureau for questions or details.
The recent Romaine lettuce alert had a financial impact on local growers but luckily the ban has been lifted. Sounds like growers implemented a sticker system that will better identify where produce is coming to prevent future confusion. Yuma, Salinas etc..
Fun Fact: Salinas grows 3 types of lettuce and 2 types of broccoli
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requires formation of local agencies to develop new plans, called Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs), to address and prevent problems in groundwater basins. New laws are under review. Nitrogen contamination is the biggest concern so one solution is to require a vegetative buffer around growing fields. This could heavily impact the production area and prevent some smaller sized fields from being planted.
Labor - There is a shortage of labor during harvest season and farmers have to source outside of the US. Laws require the employer to pay for transportation and housing for the foreign workers. Some new laws under discussion propose improving the green card process and increasing wage rates to attract workers.
A new overtime law reduced OT levels from 12 hours to 8 hours. This means overtime kicks in at 8 hours but the end result is not necessarily increased paychecks. Hours are being cut to prevent overtime pay. It's a difficult balancing act.