Bloomberg: Labor Shortages Force Southern Chester County’s Mushroom Farms to Dig Deep for Workers

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First Generation Farms
Image via First Generation Farms.

The consumer interest in mushrooms is starting to pick up significantly. Many Kennett Square mushroom farms, however, are dumping their crops.

There’s nothing wrong with the produce. There’s just nobody to harvest it, writes Breanna Bradham for Bloomberg.

Rather than work the fields, potential workers are opting for jobs in landscaping and construction, as well as at Amazon warehouses.

“Everyone’s working long hours, and we’re not actually able to harvest all the mushrooms,” said Chris Alonzo, president of Pietro Mushrooms in Kennett Square. “Farms are really struggling right now to pay the bills.”

Most of the farms are forced to slow their operations by as much as half, according to Alonzo, who also chairs the Chester County Agricultural Development Council.

“I have mushrooms, but I don’t have enough labor to get that harvested,” said Sonya Beltran, director of First Generation Farms in Toughkenamon.

Increased materials costs and shortages further burden these agribusinesses.

The labor and material woes are hitting the industry just as retail demand is coming back full force. Mushroom sales in grocery stores have increased by 15 percent in the past two years, while restaurant sales are also recovering, thanks to their reopenings.

Read more about the local mushroom farms at Bloomberg.

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