House Bill Addresses Ag Labor Shortage

USAgNet - 03/05/2021

Legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, would reform the H-2A visa program to address the agricultural labor shortage. Among other provisions, it would amend the H-2A program to allow a capped number of visas for farmworkers to work year-round.

The following statement is attributable to National Pork Producers Council President Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms in West Des Moines, Iowa.

"The U.S. pork industry is suffering from a serious labor shortage, negatively impacting farms and processing plants. Unfortunately, the current H-2A visa program is designed for seasonal agriculture, ignoring the needs of U.S. pork producers and other year-round livestock farmers. Without visa reform to support a sustainable workforce, production costs may increase, which could lead to higher food prices for consumers.

"NPPC thanks the bill's sponsors Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) for jumpstarting this critical conversation, and believes this legislation is a step in the right direction. We look forward to working with Congress to enact meaningful labor reform that both opens the H-2A program to year-round labor without a cap and provides legal status for agricultural workers already in the country. Though changes to the current proposal will be necessary to meet those needs, we're confident Congress will find a solution that works for all parties."

The U.S. pork industry offers good jobs with solid pay and benefits, but most Americans don't live near hog farms or harvest facilities and rural populations continue to decline; therefore, the U.S. pork industry is largely dependent on foreign-born workers. Visa reform is needed to ensure that U.S. livestock agriculture can compete globally and continue to provide safe and affordable pork to Americans and consumers worldwide.


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