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.
Florida was the only state with more H-2A workers than Arizona during the last three months of 2017, data show.
Arizona’s massive vegetable harvest started in November and will last until spring, said Steven Alameda, president of the Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association.
“We don’t have enough people to do (the harvest),” the vegetable grower said. “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.”
The current population of farmworkers is aging out, Alameda said. Some of their children have also chosen to work in agriculture. But they’re college-educated supervisors, instead of field workers.