House Ag Committee set to tackle labor issues in industry

The American Farm Bureau Federation is supporting a working group that will address one of the biggest issues facing the ag industry: labor. 

John Walt Boatright tells Brownfield farm country is at a critical juncture. “We continue to see a shrinking domestic workforce.  We continue to see a rising reliance on guest worker programs.”  

Members of the House Ag Committee have formed a working group to analyze the issue. In a joint statement, Chairman Glenn GT Thompson and Ranking Member David Scott, say this is a complex problem and reliable labor is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry.  

Boatright says the H-2A guest worker program is outdated and challenging to utilize.  “They were instituted or last reformed in the late ‘80s. It’s time to update them. It is by far the number one issue we hear about.”  

Boatright says labor concerns have been expressed more often than farm bill priorities by producers.  “That what’s led, I think, the chairman and ranking member to work in a bipartisan fashion to create this working group that can really spend time over the next few months looking at the issues that are challenging and frustrating our ag labor system and come up with some useful recommendations.” 

Rick Crawford (R-AR) and Don Davis (D-NC) will chair the bipartisan group and will gather input from stakeholders regarding the H-2A visa program, provide recommendations and detail its impact on food security. 

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