Labor Top Ag Challenge

Labor Top Ag Challenge

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
From the Ag Information Network, I’m Bob Larson with today’s Fruit Grower Report. Two years ago, as you may remember, the U.S. House passed The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a bipartisan bill that would have expanded the length of time immigrant workers with H-2A visas are allowed to stay and work in the U.S.

But, Chuck Conner, President and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, says the Senate version failed to pass, killing both bills …

CONNER … “It didn't fail because of anything of substance. It failed because of the controversy over border issues and the whole immigration space that isn’t particularly targeted at farm labor. We were sort of caught up in all of that, so we're going to be continuing to look for the opportunity when maybe that controversy is settled down a little bit and it gives us the opportunity to come in and fix this H-2A program.”

Conner worries ongoing labor shortages will hurt our ag economy …

CONNER … “If you're having to hire virtually any labor today, about the only option for you is to look potentially at foreign labor coming in. With the current challenges that we face in the H-2A program—for many, that's just not an option.”

Conner says they’ll continue to push for better H-2A legislation …

CONNER … “For all practical purposes, it is the only solution for co-ops and the only solution for farmers going forward and we’ve got to figure out a way to make it an option going forward if we are to continue to provide the food and fiber for America in the manner which they become quite accustomed to.”

Conner says labor is the number one challenge facing farmers today.

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