Agustín Escobar Lapatí and John Hollay

Apr 4, 2024
U.S.-Mexico labor task force includes IFPA’s John Hollay

The International Fresh Produce Association’s John Hollay has been named to a multi-stakeholder and bi-national task force on farm labor.

The task force, established by the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, aims to develop a series of evidence-based policy recommendations to improve labor recruitment and employment conditions for farm workers throughout North America.

Hollay is director of U.S. government relations for the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA).

As part of IFPA’s ongoing public policy efforts to find workable and practical solutions to the farm labor crisis affecting many fresh fruit and vegetable growers across the U.S., the organization and its members often offer their expertise and experiences to policymakers and regulators to advance immigration priorities.

The task force is part of an overarching project titled “Agriculture in North America — From Knowledge to Action” that will assess agricultural labor conditions in Mexico and the U.S. A final task force report is expected in early 2025.

Chartered by Congress, the Wilson Center provides nonpartisan counsel and insights on global affairs to policymakers through deep research, impartial analysis, and independent scholarship. As part of the task force’s work, it recently toured production facilities in Mexico and met with legislative and regulatory officials to explore solutions to the farmworker labor challenge.

“The opportunity to serve on this task force and ensure that IFPA member voices are represented has been invaluable,” Hollay said in a news release. “Ensuring that we have the workforce that is ready to meet the challenge of feeding a growing world is integral to the health of our planet and its people, and the success of our industry. I am honored to represent IFPA and its members on this task force to ensure that its recommendations align with how the fresh produce operates.”

In 2024, IFPA has called on its members to contact Congress to enlist bipartisan consensus for the Supporting Farm Operations Act (HR 7046), which freezes the wage rate for H-2A temporary visas — known as the Adverse Effect Wage Rate — for two years, giving immediate relief and certainty for the industry to perform while Congress works on broader reforms to bring stability to the labor force and long-term food security for the nation.

“For years, the fresh produce industry and our agriculture sector partners have made an overwhelming case for legislation to reform our broken immigration system and help build a legal and reliable workforce, especially now that the USDA expects the U.S. to import more food than it exports starting this year,” Hollay said in the release.

In addition, IFPA has provided comments to both the Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security, reinforcing its commitment to building a workable H-2A program that is fair to employers and employees alike, but not at the expense of bad policy based on flawed theory that will jeopardize the future of the fresh produce industry, according to the release.

Additional resources on fresh produce workforce can be found on the IFPA website.

Top photo: Agustín Escobar Lapatí, left, a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, and the International Fresh Produce Association’s John Hollay. Photo Courtesy of IFPA.

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