Thursday, February 21, 2008

Migrant labor shortage predicted if farmers fail to sign up for fixing up camps

The Aug. 19, 1953 Argus-Observer reported that Roy Hirai, president of the county Labor Sponsors Association, was warning that during that year’s growing season there would be a shortage of farm workers if farmers did not begin paying for labor camp improvements.

Hirai reported that the association had made little progress in its membership drive to pay for operation of the camps. To be successful, the drive required that farmers sign up for dues of $1 an acre for at least 6,000 acres.

The association estimated that 3,000 farm workers would be needed during the summer and that a maximum 350 would have to be housed at the three camps at Ontario, Adrian and Vale.

Even farmers with their own housing would suffer if there was not enough camp housing for all of the workers needed in the area, Hirai contended.

Payment of the membership dues entitled a farmer to use laborers from the camps. The money was to be used for repair, upkeep and operation of the three camps.

During the 1952 growing season 139 area farm operators membership dues for 6,950 acres.

The association reported that the migrant labor camp facilities were being steadily improved by the construction of cinderblock buildings to replace tents following official recognition, during 1952, of the need for the labor force.

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