Prior posts have described the overall shortage of labor in the U.S. today, especially in agriculture. Now these shortages have prompted several firms in this industry to introduce robots and other automation into their businesses.
For example, Taylor Farms of Salinas, California, one of the world’s largest producers and sellers of fresh-cut vegetables, recently unveiled a fleet of robots designed to replace humans. Its smart machines can assemble 60 to 80 salad bags a minute, double the output of a worker. In the process it creates higher-skilled positions that can attract younger, educated workers.
Other examples are Driscoll’s, the berry titan based in Watsonville, Calif., and Christopher Ranch, a giant producer of garlic. Driscoll’s has invested in several robotic strawberry harvesting start-ups, including Agrobot, which uses imaging technology to assess a berry’s ripeness before it is harvested. Christopher Ranch has started using a 30-foot-tall robot to insert garlic buds into sleeves, the nets into which they are bundled for sale in supermarkets. Yet another is Bartley Walker, a family business that now offers a robotic hoeing machine with a detection camera capable of identifying the pesky weeds that sprout between row crops like broccoli and cauliflower.
In the background is a 2017 survey of California farmers that reported 55% with labor shortages and nearly 70% for those depending on seasonal workers.
Ideally, growers say, Congress would pass a bill to legalize undocumented farm workers who are already here and encourage them to stay in the fields, as well as include provisions to ensure a steady flow of seasonal workers who could come and go with relative ease.
 E.g., Federal Reserve Bank Endorses Need for More Immigrants, dwkcommentaries.com (Nov. 17, 2018).
 Jordan, As Immigrant Farm Workers Become More Scarce, Robots Replace Humans, N.Y. Times (Nov. 20, 2018).