Hundreds Attend Annual Farm Labor Conference

<p>Labor Conference</p>

Labor Conference

Farm employers from around the state filled the Yakima Convention Center this morning.

It's part of the 9th annual Farm Labor Conference.

The event helps get farmers up to speed on the current issues surrounding the agricultural industry.

This year's major topic was immigration reform and a shortage of immigrant labor, which employers say they rely on heavily for their business.

"We have begun to experience over the last several years as we get into those peak needs -- peak times of employment -- and where our labor needs really start to spike, [there are] shortages industry-wide," said Zirkle Fruit Co.'s Director of Orchard Administration, Harold Austin.

"You know, if we don't have that workforce available for us, there's no business for us," said farm labor contractor Paula McKay.

Event organizers say there are about 70,000 people employed in agriculture in the the Yakima Valley year-round.