In Salinas Valley, the future of farming is already here
By Tara Duggan
San Francisco Chronicle
August 23, 2017 — Salinas, CA
(Photo above: Taylor Farms in Monterey County, one of North America’s largest producers of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, uses automation to help harvest and ship its products. A robot’s vacuum suction lifts salad cartons and places them into boxes for shipping. Credit: Mason Trinca)
The automated farm
Industry and labor insiders say automation and robotics will only increase in the next five to 10 years, with California’s minimum wage due to rise to $15 per hour by 2023, and the passage of AB1066, which calls for stricter overtime pay rules for agricultural workers. And while agricultural workers are in short supply now, the labor balance could always shift toward a surplus, in which case any jobs replaced by machines could be gone forever.
“In the end, I think technology is going to really change the shape of this valley,” says Cesar Lara, executive director of the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council.
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