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Will Labor-Saving Automation Save Western Agriculture?

AAEA annual meeting track session

The 2024 AAEA Annual Meeting Track Session sponsored by the Specialty Crop Economics Section, “Will Labor-Saving Automation Save Western Agriculture?” will look at labor shortages and rapidly rising wages are threatening the commercial viability of labor-intensive specialty crop production in California and other western states.  With the advent of AI and other technologies, automated systems to replace labor in key production tasks are increasingly attractive and generating substantial interest from both producers and venture capitalists.  This session provides an overview of the adoption of these technologies thus far, the potential for future adoption, and the implications for reducing labor demand and improving economic efficiency in this important sector of U.S. food supply.

Presentations in this session:

  • Trends in Labor Saving Automation Adoption in California Agriculture
    Zachariah Rutledge, Michigan State University
  • Smart Labor-Saving Technology in Berry Harvesting
    Daniel A. Sumner, University of California, Davis
  • The Potential for Automation to Save Labor in Western Agriculture
    Bryan Lohmar, California Polytechnic State University

This session will take place on Tuesday, July 30 from 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm CST in the New Orleans Marriott in Balcony I on the fourth floor.

If you are interested in attending the 2024 AAEA Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA, please send a completed complimentary media registration to Allison Ware in the AAEA Business Office. You can also learn more on our Annual Meeting Media Kit page.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes three journals, the Journal of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (an open access journal), the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices and the online open access publication series Applied Economics Teaching Resources. To learn more, visit

Contact: Allison Ware
Senior Communications & Membership Manager
(414) 918-3190