Farmers Welcome H-2A Reform
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021 last week. The bill provides legal status for the current workforce, reforms the H-2A program and ensures that we will have future access to a skilled, dedicated workforce.
To farmers like Shay Myers of Owyhee Produce, this is not only about their employees, and their business, it’s about keeping U.S. farmers viable.
Myers… “We have to think about like where our food going to come from at some point as Americans. We have to address that issue. Like we're okay with our clothing coming from China and Vietnam and developing nations. Are we okay with our food doing that? Because it's not just an availability of labor, it's the cost of that labor that is becoming unprofitable. And that means that many of the vegetable crops that we're currently growing become less and less viable every year.”
In its current form, the H-2A program is far too expensive for employers, and restrictive for employees. Myers says similar work in Mexico pays as low as $8/day while he is paying double that amount or more per hour plus housing and transportation.
Myers… “The H-2A program is so incredibly expensive. And I don't think the average American realizes what the absolute cost is. And that means a lot of our crops are no longer viable to grow.”
The Farm Workforce Modernization Act passed in the House, the bill will move on to the Senate for consideration.