According to the USDA, there are 36,733 hired farm workers in Colorado, which does not include contract labor, incarcerated workers, or undocumented workers. Most data sources on the numbers of workers likely do not fully capture temporary, seasonal, and contract labor brought into Colorado by farm labor contractors nor do they reflect accurate numbers of undocumented workers, nor prisoners who work in agriculture during their incarceration. As such, numbers presented are often the bare minimum counts. Contract workers, based on labor contract expenses reported in the USDA 2017 census, account for approximately 4,799 workers in Colorado, bringing this number up to 41,532, including about 3,000 workers with H-2A visas. This number represents a baseline, but may not be all encompassing (ex. Incarcerated or undocumented workers).
Most of the 17,983 agricultural workers in this region originally came to the area from Mexico or Guatemala, whether immigrant or resident. Growers in the Northeast Region, along with the Western Slope, bring in the largest number of H-2A workers to the area. The number of other migrant workers in this area has been decreasing at a steady rate and is suspected to be related to the lack of safe and affordable housing and consistent employment. Other concerns often raised by agricultural workers in this region include reduced access to health services, legal assistance and services for children.
San Luis Valley
Many of the 4,586 farmworkers who have migrated to this region come from Mexico and Guatemala, although there are still a large number of farmworkers whose families have been in the valley for generations. Most of the year-round agricultural work in this area is performed at potato warehouses and the mushroom farms. Most of the seasonal and migrant workers are employed by the potato farms, ranches and the vegetable and grain fields. Safe and affordable housing for farmworkers is a major concern in this region since it is either too pricey or simply unavailable. Many of the migrant farmworkers whose employers do not provide housing for them tend to cohabitate or set up temporary housing outdoors until the season is over. The highest concentration of farmworkers can be found in Center (Saguache County) and Alamosa.
Most, but not all, of the 3,467 farmworkers in this region speak Spanish and are from Mexico, but there is also a fair number of farmworkers from Central America working in greenhouses in and around Colorado Springs. Over the past several years, the number of H-2A workers brought to this area has increased and the number of other migrant workers has declined. Many of the seasonal workers in this region migrated to this region 15 -20 years ago from Mexico.
Most, but not all, of the over 6,144 agricultural workers in this region speak Spanish and are from Mexico. While there are some organizations and agencies that provide services to agricultural workers in this area, there is a noticeable lack of services available in the Spanish language, specifically when it comes to health services and law enforcement.