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Arkansas farmer says labor remains one of his biggest challenges

From a farm bill to labor solutions, American farmers are facing plenty of challenges.

Derek Haigwood raises corn, rice, cotton, and soybeans in Northeast Arkansas.  “Tomorrow I’m going to get up, I’m going to be worried about the labor issue,” he says. “Not if Congress is working on this farm bill.”

He says updated reference prices would be nice.  “But that’s planning for the future, and doing things and figuring out your crop mix,” he says.

Haigwood tells Brownfield the failure of Congress to find a workable solution to the labor challenges facing farmers is an immediate issue. “What it all boils down to is that you have to get the crop in, and you have to get the crop out,” he says. “You have to have help to do that.”

He says advancements in technology have helped. “The cotton picker that I’m on right now takes the place of nine people,” he says. “It bails the cotton, it does all things like that. So that helps a lot. But at some point, somebody has to have boots on the ground.”

Haigwood says he’s becoming less optimistic that Congress can find a workable solution to the labor challenges facing farmers or navigate the completion of the 2023 Farm Bill this year.

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