Jeffrey B. Roth, Maine Correspondent,
January 17, 2020
The Merrymeeting Food Council recently held a roundtable event focused on the farm labor shortage in Maine. The Food Council is a collaborative network of farms, fisheries, businesses, nonprofits, government, and individuals working together to advance the food system in the 14 towns surrounding Merrymeeting Bay.
BOWDOINHAM, Maine — Finding reliable, hard-working workers continues to be a major challenge for Maine farmers.
In November, the Maine unemployment rate was 2.8%, according to the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Research and Information, down from 3.5% for November 2018. Low unemployment, combined with stricter federal H-2A visa federal regulations imposed by the Trump administration on hiring foreign workers, an aging resident population and other factors, contribute to the difficulty of finding seasonal farm workers, Nikkilee Cataldo of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, said at the Merrymeeting Food Council Farm Labor Roundtable, held in Bowdoinham.
A collaborative network of farms, fisheries, businesses, government, nonprofit organizations and individuals, the organization provides resources that support the production and sale of local produce and fish, in addition to promoting community wellness, Cataldo told the audience of about 100 area farmers, mostly from 14 towns surrounding the Merrymeeting Bay-area. The evening program featured presentations about labor pools, organizing labor and worker cooperatives, effective labor management tools and solicited comments and ideas from the audience.
To read more about the Roundtable, click here.