Arizona Struggles to Find Egg and Dairy Farm Workers

The state’s farmers can’t find millennials willing to work 12-hour shifts in squalid conditions.


During the annual agribusiness & Water Council of Arizona meeting held last month in Tempe, farmers expressed their concern over a labor shortage on egg and dairy farms in the state. “If you think a millennial in this country is going to work in a stinky chicken farm six days a week for up to 12 hours a day in triple digit temperatures, it’s not going to happen,” egg farmer Jim Manos said. “So we need to change our thinking about how we can guarantee a labor pool.” Dairy farmer Paul Rovey voiced similar concerns. “Over half of the U.S. dairy farm labor pool is comprised of foreign-born workers and our industry today cannot operate without immigrant workers,” Rovey said. “Yet, despite unemployment rates, we can’t find enough American workers to fill our job needs—they’re just not interested in working on a dairy farm.” Meanwhile, according to last year’s report compiled by trade group Plant Based Foods Association, the plant-based industry boosted the economy by $13.7 billion in 2016 and created 60,000 jobs that paid $13,000 more annually than the average American salary.