Good Fruit Grower

May 1

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Page 24 of 47 Good Fruit Grower MAY 1, 2015 25 Sam Godwin Foreign guest workers arrive in Royal City, Washington, after a bus ride from Tijuana, Mexico. Some workers hired with the help of WAFLA will work under multiple H-2A contracts before they return to Mexico at the end of the season, saving growers some recruitment and transportation costs. doable–WITH HELP is $6,000 to $8,000 a bed, he said. Instead, the Stennes family hired a building contractor and invested $2,000 to $3,000 per bed to upgrade their housing and bring it into compliance with regulations. Next year, they'll build more housing and hope to have beds for 140 workers eventually. As well as being obligatory for H-2A work- ers, housing also helps attract domestic workers from California, he said. Godwin rented 28 beds for his workers last year at a facility operated by the Housing Authority in Oroville, so he didn't need to bring his on-farm housing up to standard. Asked if it would be worthwhile for a grower who doesn't have housing to build it in order to use the H-2A program, Stennes said it's more expensive to leave a crop unharvested or pick it too late than to use the program. "The answer for me is yes," added Godwin, who will build his own on-farm housing this year. "I can't imagine trying to farm without the program, mainly because of our location. Not knowing if you're going to be able to pick is pretty tough when you've put all the money into your crops. We have ideas of continuing in farming and, in the area where we live, it's the only way we see to move forward and attract the labor we want." TJ MULLINAX/GOOD FRUIT GROWER

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