Past pages, March 7, 2011: Nevada farm labor shortages, rising building prices

The cover of the March 7, 2011, edition of the Northern Nevada Business Weekly.

The cover of the March 7, 2011, edition of the Northern Nevada Business Weekly.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week in 2021, we will feature snippets of stories that published a decade ago to provide readers a 10-year perspective of business news in the region. This week’s stories first published in the March 7, 2011, edition of the NNBW.

Ag producers struggle to find labor

Despite record unemployment in the state, Northern Nevada farmers still are challenged to find enough farm labor for busy seasons — and it’s equally challenging filling positions that require technical experience and agricultural know-how, they say.

Peri & Sons Farms of Yerington — one of Northern Nevada’s larger farming operations with about 8,000 acres of red, white and yellow onions, leafy greens and alfalfa in the Mason Valley — routinely seeks guest workers from Mexico on temporary H2-A work visas to harvest its crops.

Brad Johnston, spokesman for the farm, says finding labor is a common problem throughout the agricultural business. Despite the economic downturn and high unemployment in the state, the demographic of farm workers hasn’t changed.

“Generally speaking, we do not get many U.S. workers who come and apply for jobs,” Johnston says. “We pretty much rely on guest workers.”

— Page 1, by Rob Sabo

Builders face rising prices for materials

Rising prices for construction materials and expected increases in transportation costs could further squeeze Northern Nevada contractors already struggling with decreased revenues.

Prices for framing lumber and structural plywood panels have remained relatively flat through the first part of the year. But lumberyard executives are concerned that prices may spike due to heavy foreign purchases and the start of the nation’s spring and summer building season.

And rapidly rising petroleum prices could potentially add expensive surcharges to U.S. steel sales — all of which will further pinch contractors bidding jobs on razor-thin margins in order to land work.

— Page 1, by Rob Sabo

‘Inland ports’ studied to boost state’s logistics sector

The deserts of Nevada are at least a couple of hundred miles from the nearest ocean, but state officials are kicking around the idea of creating an “inland port” to solidify the state’s position as a logistics hub.

Like Skaggs, executive director of the Nevada Commission on Economic Development, says state officials snapped to attention when President Obama detailed his hopes to double American exports in the next five years.

Nevada, Skaggs noted, already has a strong position as a West Coast logistics hub — a result of its location, its tax policy and a workforce that’s skilled in transportation and distribution. Those same strengths, Skaggs says, can help the state grab a growing share of the flow of foreign trade, both exports and imports.

— Page 3, by John Seelmeyer


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