Chester County’s Mushroom Industry Has Big Stake in Midterm Elections

Image via David Swanson, Philadelphia Inquirer.

Local mushroom farmers who rely on immigrant workers to keep production going have a big stake in the upcoming midterm elections, writes Claudia Vargas for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Currently, workers at Mother Earth Organic Farms in West Grove can only take one day off each week. The reason for this is the stricter limits on immigration that make it harder for farmers to hire employees.

The farms have been unsuccessful in trying to recruit employees born in the U.S. to harvest mushrooms, even though the pay is good, at $14 an hour on average, along with healthcare and retirement benefits.

However, farmers are still short around 1,000 workers, which is affecting annual production. This started dropping two years ago and has continued falling since.

“It’s all ‘Oh, these immigrants are taking American jobs.’ Well, I’m not finding Americans who want to do this work,” said Peter Gray, manager at Phillips Mushroom Farm in Kennett Square.

Now, farmers are pressing both Democrat Chrissy Houlahan and Republican Greg McCauley, who are vying for the Sixth Congressional District Seat, for help when one of them reaches Capitol Hill.

Read more about the local mushroom industry’s stake in the midterm elections in the Philadelphia Inquirer here.

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