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Business and Economy

Ag Labor Shortages In Oklahoma

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Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a back-to-work initiative on May 17, 2021, that gives 20,000 Oklahomans a $1,200 bonus for getting and keeping a job. The incentive comes at a good time for Oklahoma’s Ag industry. State farmers hope the incentive will aid them in getting help for their operations.

“You can’t find anybody that wants to work or do anything,” said Charlie Coblentz, owner and operator of Coblentz Farms in Chouteau, Okla.

“We’re a cow/calf operation. We run a bunch of mama cows and then we have about 500 milk cows. We farm a lot of wheat and corn and soybeans,” Coblentz said.

Coblentz says his operation has suffered from the shortage of laborers.

“There’s several different guys I’ve talked to that won’t consider coming off unemployment even for 15 bucks an hour to drive a tractor.”

He says it’s not necessarily all because of unemployment benefits. Coblentz says, in general, it’s just been hard to find and keep good help on the farm.

“It definitely seems worse than ever. It used to be you could always find someone willing to show up and drive something,” he said.

Coblentz isn’t alone. The Oklahoma Farm Bureau reports a shortage of labor across the Ag industry in the state from multiple sectors. 

Many are hoping this latest incentive will help them find and keep good help.

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