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e. 2. An assessment of the agricultural activity in the State means: 1) Identifying the top five labor-intensive crops, the months of heavy activity, and the geographic area of prime activity; 2) Summarize the agricultural employers’ needs in the State (i.e. are they predominantly hiring local or foreign workers, are they expressing that there is a scarcity in the agricultural workforce); and 3) Identifying any economic, natural, or other factors that are affecting agriculture in the State or any projected factors that will affect agriculture in the State

Current Narrative:

Idaho is a large, geographically diverse state, with five significant offices serving migrant and seasonal farmworkers and five additional offices and mobile locations that conduct farmworker outreach. The hiring season begins in April and continually increases until the peak month of October. The geographic area of prime activity is the Snake River area plain, in the southern part of the state.

Agricultural employers primarily hire foreign workers for the use of hand labor. They are heavily dependent on the use of foreign labor to ensure that crops are planted and harvested in a timely manner.

In Northern Idaho, the predominant crops are hay, barley, grain, hops, peas, beans (lentils, garbanzos, and chickpeas) wheat and grass seed. The earliest activity involves hops, stringing from April to May and training from May through June. The harvest season for hay begins in May and lasts through September. Harvest for the other groups lasts from August through Mid-September. The estimated number of farmworkers in Northern Idaho was almost 2,500 for 2018 and slightly over that amount in 2019.

In Southeastern and Eastern Idaho, the predominant crops are barley, beans, grain, hay, potatoes, and sugar beets. The hiring season begins in April for irrigation activities. The harvest for potatoes and sugar beets last later into the fall, October and November respectively. In addition to farmworkers, there is a requirement for truck drivers and equipment operators from May to November. In 2018, Southeastern Idaho had about 9,000 farmworkers and Eastern Idaho had approximately 7,000. 2019 saw the same amount of agricultural employment for both regions.

Southwestern Idaho has a larger variety of significant crop activity: barley, beans, corn, fruits (cherries, apples and other fruits), grain, hay, hops, mint, oats, onions, potatoes, sugar beets, and wheat. Workers are needed for irrigation, hoeing, topping, and harvest in the months of heavy activity. Apples and other fruits require pruning and thinning from January to March. The number of farmworkers in Southwestern Idaho was 14,337 in 2018 and 14,472 in 2019.

The traditional South Central Idaho crops are barley, beans, apples and other fruits, corn, grain, hay, potatoes, sugar beets and wheat. There is also a demand for farm equipment operators and truck drivers. Greenhouse and nursery workers are needed for seedling and plant cultivation. South Central Idaho also needs additional foreign workers for herding sheep. South Central Idaho had 15,848 farmworkers in 2018 and 16,046 in 2019.