vegetable farm labor

Jun 22, 2023
Bipartisan House Committee group focuses on labor, H-2A

The House Committee on Agriculture is taking a look at the H-2A temporary visa guest worker program and other issues to address the lack of labor in the fruit and vegetable industry.

The committee formed the bipartisan Agricultural Labor Working Group to focus on workforce issues. Glenn “GT” Thompson, chairman of the committee, and David Scott, ranking member of the committee, released a joint statement on June 21.

“The Committee on Agriculture has heard loud and clear from producers across the nation that one of the biggest challenges confronting the agriculture industry is a lack of reliable labor,” they said in the joint statement. “Though not directly in our committee’s jurisdiction, we have a responsibility to be a voice in Congress on the issues and policies impacting farmers and ranchers.

“This is a complex problem that deserves the focused attention of the members who hear from producers every day rather than the partisan grandstanding that has plagued these efforts in the past,” according to the statement.

Working group members were selected from current Committee on Agriculture members and aim to represent every sector and geographical region of American agriculture.

Congressmen Rick Crawford (R-Arkansas) and Don Davis (D-North Carolina) will co-chair the working group. The working group will:

  • Seek input from stakeholders, employers and workers, particularly emphasizing the H-2A program.
  • Produce an interim report detailing the program’s shortcomings and the effects on food security.
  • File a final report with recommendations to address the flaws within the program.

“A robust agriculture industry starts with a strong and healthy workforce,” Crawford said in a statement. “However, due to a labor shortage, American farmers are increasingly turning to overseas workers to fill positions on the farm.

“Unfortunately, this is not an easy process because our visa policies and regulations have become convoluted and burdensome,” he said. “Reforms are desperately needed to address this pressing issue.”

Davis also released a statement, saying he hears from farmers every day about the need for more workers.

“I look forward to working with my fellow co-chair, Representative Rick Crawford, and the other members of the Agriculture Labor Working Group, to come together and craft bipartisan solutions to the labor issues that farmers and producers face,” Davis said in his statement.

The final report of the working group will provide a suite of potential solutions that can inform and be used in subsequent legislative efforts, according to the House Committee on Ag statement.

Other Republicans appointed to the Agricultural Labor Working Group are:

  • Lori Chavez-DeRemer, Arkansas;
  • Monica De La Cruz, Texas
  • Doug LaMalfa, California
  • Nick Langworthy, New York
  • David Rouzer, North Carolina
  • Derrick Van Orden, Wisconsin

Other Democrats on the Agricultural Labor Working Group are:

  • Yadira Caraveo, North Carolina
  • Salud Carbajal, California
  • Jim Costa, California
  • Jasmine Crockett, Texas
  • Darren Soto, Florida
  • Gave Vasquez New Mexico

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