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Rural Migration Blog

June 2020

US Farm Employment and Farm Workers

The average employment of hired workers in US agriculture is about 1.5 million, and there are 2.5 million individuals employed for wages on US farms sometime during a typical year. Farm employment is concentrated in three interrelated ways: by geography, commodity, and size of farm. The 10,000 largest fruit and berry, vegetable and melon, and horticultural specialty (FVH) farms in CA, WA, FL, and TX account for over half of US farm employment, including a third in CA.

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Covid-19: Implications for Farm Workers

The Covid-19 virus that shut down large parts of the world and US economy in spring 2020 had both short- and long-term effects on farm workers. Farm and other food system workers were deemed essential and expected to continue to work during the pandemic. Foreign farm workers were also considered essential, and special arrangements were made to ensure that H-2A guest workers could obtain work visas and enter the US despite closed borders.

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