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Ag labor crisis needs Congressional intervention

The American Farm Bureau Federation says the appropriations process is the fastest way for Congress to help farmers struggling to afford labor.

John Walt Boatright tells Brownfield, “We cannot understate how much of a crisis that we’re in in the agricultural labor space.”

“Congress is the only entity that can really change the situation,” he says.

Boatright says the latest census found a loss of about 140,000 farms which he believes has the attention of lawmakers.

“We know that our opportunities are few and far between and this funding package is definitely an opportunity where we could see some meaningful action,” he says.

The House Committee on Agriculture’s bipartisan Agriculture Labor Working Group has released a final report on improving the H-2A guest worker program and supports a temporary wage freeze. The recommendations are being submitted to the House Judiciary Committee which oversees the H-2A law.

North Carolina Republican Senator Tom Tillis last week introduced companion legislation to Michigan Congressman John Moolenaar’s bipartisan Supporting Farm Operations Act which also calls for a pause on rate increases.

Farm Bureau analysis shows the mandatory base wage rates for H-2A workers increased more than 40 percent from 2018 to 2024, almost 60 percent above growth in the overall U.S. Employment Cost Index.

AUDIO: John Walt Boatright, American Farm Bureau Federation

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