August 30, 2018

Labor shortage hits Maine farms

A shortage of farmhands is making it tough for farmers to get their crops harvested.

"Farmhands are just not even available," Jim Buckle of Buckle Farm in Unity told the Bangor Daily News, adding, "We don't have the people, and so we're going to have to farm differently."

Ryan Dennett, the New Farmer Programs coordinator at Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, told the newspaper there's a declining interest in the association's farm apprentice program.

Maine's farm industry is in transition, with the average age of principal operators being 57, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures. Still, Maine is one of the few states with growth in farming, particularly in Aroostook County, Farm Credit East's Presque Isle branch manager Peter Hallowell told Mainebiz in April. The number of young people without family experience in farming appears to be growing, too.

According to a 2017 agriculture overview, Maine has 8,200 farms and 1.45 million acres in farm operations.


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