The field fruit and vegetable industry, which includes farms that produce root vegetables, melons, sweet corn, tomatoes, and peppers, is a significant agricultural employer with substantial labour challenges.
Jobs tend to be labour intensive and highly seasonal, which makes it difficult to attract and retain workers, and the industry has one of the largest labour gaps in the agriculture sector, second only to the tree fruit and vine industry. It relies heavily on foreign labour, and in 2017, 43% of its workforce was foreign at the seasonal peak. Despite this reliance, the industry was unable to fill 1,500 jobs, which cost it $403 million.
Unless the industry’s labour challenges can be addressed, its stability will be increasingly challenged by a growing dependence on unpredictable foreign labour. By 2029, the number of jobs that can’t be filled by domestic workers will rise to 53%, or 14,500 jobs, which is the second largest proportion of any agricultural commodity.
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