Fall 2018

Northwest Farm Credit: Rural, Real Estate, Operating Loans; Farm Loans; Country Home Loans; Lot Loans; Equipment Financing; Young and Beginning Producers; Crop Insurance; Business Management Education; Property Appraisals

Issue link: http://digital.nexsitepublishing.com/i/1052966

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Page 16 of 19

fall 2018 16 "Much of American agriculture was mechanized long before robots invaded. In recent years, processing plants and packing houses have automated significantly. But most fruits and vegetables in the field remain stubbornly dependent on human hands." Attend the AgTech Innovation Conference, Feb. 14 and 15 in Spokane, to learn more from Glen about the future of ag labor and how you can position your business for long-term success. At home, local residents are scarcely inclined to pick up the labor slack, while second-generation Mexican and other immi- grant families see their children seek opportunities beyond the farm work that brought their parents here. Change is required. First, new policies for H2-A and -B visas must be hammered out that allow more people to enter the country for agricultural work, along with better and more timely access to workers at the right time for producers and contractors. Second, various software and other technology for labor man- agement that speeds up application processes, tracks people better and provides e-Verify assurance can be deployed. As Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau puts it, "We're coming to a point where America will have to decide if we're going to import workers or import our food." Most agree that the H2-A program as currently run is inadequate, and that proposed administrative changes are insufficient. Legislation is needed. Technological advances do play a role in reducing the need for farm labor, though achieving more automation in the produce industry will be costly and likely take longer than hoped. Still, companies are developing machines to pick strawberries, and refining auto-steer systems on farm equipment to reduce labor in potatoes, corn, cotton, peanuts and more. Precision ag and no-till farming can further reduce the need for hired labor. Ultimately, U.S. farmers need a guest-worker program. Without that, recognizing a future where robots do all the work is at best a distant dream. Answers to stable farm labor are needed now. Without such answers, affected operators may face the need to scale back operations or leave their industry entirely. Glen Hiemstra is the Founder and CEO of Futurist.com in Seattle, Wash. An international expert on long range trends and processes for creating the preferred future, Glen has advised professional, business, and govern- mental organizations for more than two decades. Futurist.com is regularly visited by people from over 120 nations. Register Now

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