Winter Wheat Harvest Complicated by Coronavirus

With the start of the winter wheat harvest just weeks away, U.S. harvesters are struggling to get the foreign workers they usually rely on to run their combines.

The closure of embassies and consulates due to the coronavirus pandemic is not the only obstacle to bringing in seasonal workers.

Governments have closed their borders.

Overseas workers who have visas cannot get on a flight.

Those who can travel would face weeks of quarantine before they could work.

According to the industry trade group U.S. Custom Harvesters, about 30% of U.S. harvest operations use foreign workers on their crews, and as many as half of the workers who harvest U.S. wheat and other grain crops are seasonal foreign workers.

Harvesters are trying to hire American workers to fill the gap, but many lack the skills or desire to work in agriculture.

Many Americans don’t want to leave home for the six-to-nine months harvesting crews are working.